I know many of you have new computers in your homes, but how many of you realize that this computer is already vulnerable? How can this be? How can a brand new computer be vulnerable? There are many reasons for this:
- Most computers have insecure default configurations.
- Your software is probably already outdated. New vulnerabilities have likely been discovered between the time the computer was built and configured by the manufacturer and the day you power on your new system.
- Numerous viruses and worms are already circulating on the Internet capable of taking advantage of the latest vulnerabilities.
- Hackers know where you are! They regularly scan the common broadband and dial-up IP address ranges.
Before You Connect
Let's talk about what you should do before you connect this new system to the Internet.
You should not connect your computer directly to the Internet. You should, instead, use a network firewall or firewall router. A network firewall or firewall router is a hardware device that users can install between the computers on their Local Area Network (LAN) and their broadband device (cable/DSL modem). By blocking inbound access to the computers on the LAN from the Internet at large (yet still allowing the LAN computers' outbound access), a hardware-based firewall can often provide sufficient protection for a user to complete the downloading and installation of necessary software patches. A hardware-based firewall provides a high degree of protection for new computers being brought online.
If you're running Windows XP (and if this is a new system, you probably are) you enable the Internet Connection Firewall (ICF). Microsoft has provided instructions for enabling the built-in Internet Connection Firewall on Windows XP.
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