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The Computer Log #6 for December 9, 2009

Today I want to talk about something close and dear to my heart, and that is computer security and what can be done to secure your Hi-Speed Internet connection. What is said on TV, is somewhat lacking in info about security. I will give you three things to consider and that is “Hardware”, “Software” and “Common Sense”.

“Hardware” In hardware there is a number of things you can do to protect yourself, and if you do not have either a “Cable Router” or a “DSL Router” as the first piece of equipment coming into your house from that big pipe called the Internet. RUN do not walk to the local computer store or larger store with a computer section and purchase a Router. Most people in this area have “Cable Modems” so RUN! This device when set up according to the instructions will secure your “Net” connection against the bad guys who will try to probe your computer for a way in. I recommend the “Linksys Router”. It will come in several flavors and $80 is the maximum I would pay but I have seen them at $40 in some places on-line, but you add shipping charges. Most will now have the ability to use wireless. That is OK but during the setup, if you do not need the wireless, Turn It OFF!!! If you want wireless, turn it on and use WPA/WPA2 security with at least a 24 character password with a mixture of numbers and letters or even better, a mixture of those funny characters that are above the numbers at the top of your keyboard. If you do not, you could get “HACKED” and you will need to reset the router. Or even worse, you could have everything deleted and loose everything from Grandmas Pictures to Documents you want to remain confidential, and need the Operating System of your computer re-installed.

If you are a commercial establishment or need higher security, there is a number of good solutions out there from “Open Source” to “Pay” and in some cases “Pay” means pay way to much. I like the “Open Source”, for a number of reasons, and can be installed by a computer professional real easy. I do install firewalls with VPN's and other cute accessories and if I put one in as a commercial dedicated firewall, with new equipment, expect about $1000. Used equipment $200 less and I have seen a number of commercial products out there at $5000 or more for the same thing.

“Software” In software I will include a firewall. Windows, since XP, has a real nice firewall built in but if you do not have it turned on, it is next to useless and even though you have a “Router”. Someone who was determined enough, could hack there way in. I would also include anti-virus and anti-spyware software in your Software package and that is free depending on your “OS” but you have to take care where you get it. I will include the use of for additional security against Plishing sites and the ability to limit the use of undesirable sites.

“Common Sense” It is hard how to teach that, I guess that comes with experience. But the best thing to say is NEVER click on e-mail attachments or download software unless you know who they come from and even then I would be leary of them. NEVER browse the “Red Lite” district. A number of these sites usually have bad software that can be install on your computer. Your Bank, Facebook , MySpace and others, will not e-mail you about warnings or ask you to login to change your password with a provided link. These are examples of Plishing e-mails, and should be avoided at all cost. Always use your browser to login and put the address in manually, and use Firefox as your browser. If you know the site, it is best to either use your favorites or manually enter the web address into your browser. The biggest hint on a bad website is experience and “Common Sense”. And I would listen to the podcast “Security Now with Steve Gibson” found at every week.

Franklin S Werren is a computer technician and runs Chautauqua Lake Hosting and Franks Radio in Sherman NY.And can be found on the web at and and via e-mail at

Disclaimer: Neither “Franklin S Werren” or the “Chautauqua Star” have not received any money or promotional items in anything talked about in this column.

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Page last modified on December 10, 2009, at 03:27 PM EST