Back in the days of dialup
connections to the Internet (no offense to those still on dialup), you
didn't really have to worry about hackers because every time you dialed
into your provider, they would give you a new IP number. Today with DSL
and Cable, you may have a static IP number that never changes or if you
have a dynamic one, that number may not change for months at a time. This
gives hackers a chance to come back to your IP number if something looks
interesting to them.
How are hackers going to
find your IP number? Well, if you have a domain name, finding the IP number
is as simple as doing a nslookup. Even if you don't tell anybody about
your IP number, you're still in trouble. Hackers don't sit there and manually
try every IP number in the world, they have software programs scripts that
will do that for them. Once they find an interesting IP number, they can
then scan through all your port numbers to see which ones are available
for attack. This is also done by software. That's why sometimes hackers
are referred to as "script-kiddies".
If you want to see how exposed
your computer is, go to GRC.com
and click on "Shields Up". Test your shields (and photon canons) and then
ask them to "Probe your ports". You may be surprised at what information
they can show you.
The chances that you'll get
hacked are slim right? Wrong. Let me tell you a little story.
I put together a server to serve streaming audio. I installed windows 2000
advanced server and applied the sp1 service pack. I the connected the server
to the network and within 10 hours, somebody started to use my server as
a storage space for his pirated material. Apparently the default settings
in windows 2000 allows many openings to the outside world and he found
a way in. (Linux users must love this story). 10 hours! Can you believe
A firewall is a must.
One of the best firewalls
out there is ZoneAlarm.
The basic version is free and works very well. I highly recommend
I have 2 guides here on how to install and configure ZoneAlarm on your
Some people use software firewall
programs and other people use hardware routers with firewall protection.
My recommendation is to use both. A hardware router will put distance between
your computer and the Internet and also afford protection by method of
NAT. Then each computer on your network should be running a software firewall.
This will offer maximal protection from the elements.