Friday, January 21, 2005

Temporary Internet Files - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by: Nick Smith

A little bit of time invested into learning about internet security can go a long way in preventing mishaps on your computer. Temporary internet files are not something we should be afraid of, but we should certainly be careful in how much we trust them and how we deal with them.

Temporary internet files are image, text, and formatting files that are stored on your hard drive by the websites that you visit. They are placed there by the websites without your having to do anything. The files are stored on your computer the first time you visit the site so that the next time you go to that webpage you only have to load new information or files that have changed since the last time you visited - files that have not changed are loaded from the temporary internet files folder at a much faster speed than over the internet.

This seems like an incredibly appealing option, especially to those of us still working at home on dial-up connections (my teenage brother-in-law insists I'm "old school" because I don't have DSL - I think he may be right). Storing the temporary internet files on the hard drive significantly cuts down the amount of time it takes to completely load and view a website.

There are a few question areas, however, that need to be considered in any discussion about temporary internet files. First, and arguably the most trivial of the concerns, is that you may miss out...

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Malicious Advertising

by: Daniel Punch

Advertising is a necessary irritant in the world today. You can't drive down the street without coming across an ad, either a billboard suspended over a road or a large poster plastered down the side of a bus. If you walk into a shopping centre it doesn't matter where you look, you see an advertisement of some kind. Even the tables in the food court now have ads embedded in them, and on my last trip to Melbourne I noticed that they were starting to embed flat screen TVs into the tables to deliver the full commercial experience to your meal. If you jump on the Internet you have to contend with pop-ups and banner ads, with some advertising agents being ruthless enough to write malicious code that embeds the ad into your computer so that you still receive the pop-ups even when you're not at the original site.

In the past, pop-ups and banner ads have been easy enough to avoid with the right software installed (incidentally, am I the only one who finds pop-up ads that advertise pop-up blockers tremendously amusing?) but now the software developers have worked their way around that little problem. The solution was simple; sell advertising space in your software, not just on your web page.

As much as I like to complain about this new idea, it does come with a significant upside. These days, not all Shareware applications drop out after a limited period of use, nor do they constantly remind you to register. Having ads in the software...

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Securing Your Wireless Home Network

Do you have a wireless network installed in your home? Chances are that you do. If so, did you know that hackers might be using your Internet connection without your knowledge or consent?

It's called "Drive-By Clicking" and it is becoming more and more popular all the time. Here is how it works:

A hacker drives through a residential neighborhood with a laptop computer equipped with a wireless network adapter. If a wireless router isn't configured for secure communications the hacker's laptop can detect the signal, stop his car, and access the Internet using the unsuspecting homeowner's Internet connection.

He can send spam emails (potentially getting the homeowner in trouble) and even access sensitive information on the host's computer. Scary stuff, huh?

If you have a wireless router you can protect yourself with these tips:

  1. Place your wireless router in a location that is as far away from the street or the closest neighbor's house as possible.
  2. Change your router's password from the factory default (which most "competent" hackers are familiar with) to a new one.
  3. If you have file sharing enabled on your PC be surer to activate password protection.
  4. Enable encryption (WEP) in your router's configuration settings.
  5. Be alert for clues that someone else is using your Internet Connection or home network. These include excessive Internet traffic through your cable or DSL modem (the data lights will flash more than usual) and a sluggish PC with lots of unsual hard drive activity.

Taking the time to secure your wireless network from cyber-intruders could save you lots of headaches and losses (monetary and otherwise) in the future.

by: Rick Rouse

Firefox : It saves you Time and Money!

How can a web browser save you time and money?

Security. For starters, a secure browser, like Firefox, keeps out the spyware/malware. This alone frees up untold hours each month that would be spent removing these invasive programs. They are also responsible for huge computer slow-downs. (Time = Money)

Spyware/malware infestation may get to a point where you need to get help from a professional or worse have to purchace a new computer. This is not something most people look forward to. (Professionals are not cheap!)

Firefox is easy. And it's actually fun to use. Multiple tabs, favorite/customizable search bar (without having to add a toolbar program) Theme's and tons of optional customizations through extensions.

Pop-up-blocker (built in) ...need I say more?

Try it, you may find you love it and wonder why you have waited till now to do it.
and if you do like it, you find it enjoyable, you find yourself talking to friends about it, send a donation to keep Firefox on the right track.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Why this is here

I decided to set up this blog as a means to tell the world how I keep my home network operating smoothly and relatively free of malicious programs. As an added bonus, I would like to share some tips for everyday computing, that I have learned over the years. There may even be a joke posted here, once in awhile. This is somewhat of an experiment, that I hope will be a positive one.


First thing on my list

Surfing the Internet with MSIE (Microsoft internet explorer) is a sure fire way to gather a lot of malware. Now I assume that you don't want malware to get in your computer, I know that I don't want it. But I.E. is the favorite target of malware programmers. This is probably due to the fact that so many people use I.E.
malware: any program or code that is put on your computer without your permission .(these programs usually slow down your computer, change your homepage, report information about you to the creator, shut off virus/firewall programs, refuse to be uninstalled etc.

I believe that if you wanted this stuff in your computer, then you should be able to decide for yourself, not have it forced on you. Internet Explorer lets this stuff in. This is where we discuss alternatives to I.E.

I am a big fan of Firefox browser! As you can tell by the big link button on this site. Firefox is very simple to learn. If you are at all familiar with I.E., then you will have no problem with Firefox. You may also discover some things about Firefox that you love.

Tabbed browsing(opening many different sites in little tabs across the top of Firefox) this allows you to jump between many pages with out having to reload them all the time(awesome if you are on dial-up internet).

Search bar built right in so you don't have to add a Google tool bar or Yahoo tool bar. You save viewing space by not having these things in your browser window.

Easily imports your I.E. favorites to the Firefox bookmarks. (no lost links no headaches).

It's a small download so you won't spend 15 hours trying to get the program (unless you still use a 28.8 modem in which case you need to move to the year 2005)

more to follow...

Location: United States

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