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  On "Subject" mention article name and author

Personal Security and Internet Protection

Speech By  ©  Christopher Mathis delivered at the seminar held on July the 20th of 2001 In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The event was supported by GBM Dominicana (IBM), Forum Interculra, S.A. and EmpresasDominicanas.Com. 

 For a full download of the Seminar on Internet Securities documentation,
.pdf format and the PowerPoint presentation by GBM Dominicana>> 
(Spanish)

 

Today, much has and will be discussed about computer and Internet security. Much of it will be directed at the business sector. While this kind of discussion and education is greatly needed, much of this information is of little use to us on a personal level. What do I mean?

It is possible and quite probable that a business that has computers and perhaps "Net" access will have their own Network Administrator. Or they will have a contract with a company that will service their computers/network should a problem arise. Hopefully this Administrator will have implemented all the latest security patches, updates, and have a good fire wall installed to keep the business safe and running smoothly.

But most of the time, this is where our own personal protection and security ends. This is like having a guard at the front gate while leaving the doors to your villa wide open. Take for example email. Millions of emails are sent world wide on a daily basis. People bear their souls and write about lost loves,  their hopes and dreams. They talk about their medical conditions,  about what they did last night and make plans for the weekend. Let me ask you a question. Would you take a normal everyday postcard, the kind you would find at a Resort, and send a very personal message to a loved one? Perhaps your personal Bank account PIN number? No, not at all! But you are taking that chance with every email that you send!

What most people do not realize is that your email is no more secure and private than that post card you send back home while on vacation! Anyone who has access to your computer could read your email! Anyone with a packet sniffer could be scanning the packets going to and from your computer. The Internet Provider, or an employee at your Internet Service Provider could go to your mail box on their mail server, and read your mail. Think this will not or does not happen? It does.

I used to work for an ISP, I know. While any access to your personal information would most likely be with pure intentions, it does not diminish he fact that it is still YOUR personal information, YOUR thoughts.

How can you protect yourself? The first step is NEVER send any personal or private email/information via email that you do not want made public, because it very well could be.

You could look into "Encryption"

What is Encryption?

To alter (a file, for example) using a secret code so as to be unintelligible to unauthorized parties.

Sounds great!!!

Why more people, including myself are not using this I do not know. But I will now. Lets look at the contents of an email of a recent email that I received:

At least in England and Scotland you know what rain looks like. Here in USA - South-central Texas it hasn't rained for over a month. And with temperatures near 100 for all of that time I have forgotten what the color green looks like - Could someone send me a patch of grass from the UK?

 

Here is the same content encrypted: (Not an actual encryption)

-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----

qANQR1DBwU4DUlgi3L8VJy8QCACKpf8noMlMjM44PDxES+YdMUCq1Y7GYp

4oG8/rVvdTI/+x6LawTMgpDDVnQA48jO6dRRHd1pCq3Jtg3dypSKwxIvyTFBA

O+rA atE99gi2EAnQGDDo/RjuC8yk9wmOYlscoJwuxs5TvKSzCBFYADhXdyzfcMBn PyAK291XvjbjMdt2Dk4ym0aRwkn/lEanSSzYh562e5GY91uwMRTnrZ3Vd8

NtyXuGq7p69p0/ viBhNqpqPMuqCBgFczXo7XrPBvJj10mE7EORGjL0IGJmi88hidFVxPTqcYA

5T+lS HF2CVltxjuq0xoXW2yPCu4tP/4ZtLVrJhh3FGtmYzu0lMCUxCACy+llfDA9n/+lK

jzr3036fdd7SSXulJRyPjiZ0R/YAT75efY4ZIMpi5yIfHOcwx570cOdBoePxSfEw j9rmwRKsgM2a9vSNU9Sme8CvED5WxRmWTIBiHbpww106sWp256KLj JTwmAN2m8tmmx1QyBEBQHxDSOGWptxIRLddPLTsgjlRPQBGH1RGqYYBRX1j

Y9lAWJsTvE6xbDYS65yAq2vBpEl4i1aIla7nh9B8Mz+xz0UbtZjd8XT0elDXvrxBp

NHaUX/iAxfspH7HYr/lvepB6ghdTXKXMe09lmpPG7mUleVOfUoOXNTkKkjUBGv2

JYFtX+Bm53COkRS7GnHWuE3ycA35Ze6uaONrEMDVeQSldFOJELLZQ6QgZufnD

3TXSc0ci5pPksn9tLp5UA00vwQ9gjTOXFdzLih852U6Np6QPrgFT2LZ22eHYK1

pwzMF7B5qme0CQNpe6NsCDTup44vI11y9PO7sViFQam0Myc0z748Pi20

XT/8udEsugeuCHY+3Q===QT7R

-----END PGP MESSAGE-----

Now which email do you think is more secure? In which email do you want the access code to your Swiss Bank account? Which email would you want your wife or husband to see if you were sending en email to your Girlfriend or your Boyfriend!???

With readily available software, encrypting and decrypting your email and files is fast and painless.

For some good information and to download encryption software, check out this site:

http://www.pgp.com

Encryption, use it. Big Brother IS watching.

Next I would like to address a "Personal Firewall". Yes your local Internet provider has firewalls. But do YOU on YOUR machine? Do YOU on YOUR Network?

If you do not, well, you had better!

If my research is correct, there are over 65 THOUSAND "PORTS" (in essence, PORTS of entry) into your computer.

For example, to send and receive email, you will generally connect to a computer on ports "25" and "110".  If you connect to a computer to FTP, you will most likely connect to port 21. Ports are access point into your computer used by programs an applications. They are very much needed. But every coin has two sides. Every "Ying" has a "Yang", even the day is followed by the night. Protection vs destruction. Good verses evil. You get the point...

The computer world is just like the REAL world. The more you think about it, the more you realize that it is not so different, the more you will be in a position to protect yourself.

If you like in an apartment building, even if that apartment building has an armed watchman, do you not still lock your doors?

Of course you do!

Being that this is the case,  why do we leave our computers wide open?

Get a personal Fire wall!

What this will do is only allow access to your computer from the applications and people YOU want to have access to your computer, YOUR personal information.

I have heard about fire walls for years now. They were very expensive and complicated. This was the old days. Even though I knew about them, even though I worked for an Internet Company, it was not a subject or project that I was ready to tackle.

Later I read an article on ZDNet. It was all about personal Fire Walls. They tested, they prodded and tweaked, then they tested again.

In the end, they recommended a personal Fire Walled called Zone Alarm. AND IT WAS FREE!!!  http://www.zonelabs.com/

I downloaded, installed, and have been using it ever since. In fact, I now use it on ALL our companies computers!

I also highly recommend you investigate the web site: http://www.grc.com  This is the web site for the famous "Shields Up" security tester!

What amazed me was the realization of just how much "hacker" activity was going on! Perhaps even from your Internet Provider! And just how much MY own computer was vulnerable!

Get a personal Fire Wall! Get it, use it with your encrypted email...

Lastly I would like to quickly discuss Anti Virus Protection. Computer virus protection that is!

There is NO reason ANYONE, or ANY Computer should not have Anti Virus Software installed, AND updated regularly!

Good Anti Virus Software will constantly monitor your computers memory as well as hard disk activity. It will also "up date itself" at the times you specify. I regularly receive 40 to 50 viruses a week. What this tells me is, is that generally people are not doing enough about Virus Protection. Hey, if THEY were, that INFECTED email would NOT have made it to me!

You get the point.

I recommend Norton AntiVirus. It can be located at: http://www.symantec.com/

There is a 30 day demo available.

Keep in mind that there are also FREE Anti Virus Programs available.

The bottom line is, YOU have to use it... YOU have to keep it UPDATED! The newer Anti Virus solutions do not require human intervention, set it up, and forget it!.

It is my desire that this information will help you.

Thank you,  
Chris Mathis

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Any reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the authors authorization  

July 22, 2001
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