30 March, 2007

Non-technical are not secure

From my home, I can pickup several wireless signals, with about half unsecured. I have been using one of these connections, instead of paying Comcast's high prices. While connecting my desktop with my laptop (to transfer some files), I noticed from the laptop that I could see this neighbors computer.

I decided, what the heck, I'll click on it and see if it is open. Well, I got challenged (which you would think is good), but I tried Windows XP default password for the Admin account and I got in. I suspect more people do not understand that they are not secure than being ignorant that they should be secure. Because people are assuming they are secure, their systems get left open to make easy access without any real hacker tools.

If you're reading this, and are not sure about your computer security, I highly suggest you check your system out or have a technical friend help. Check the following:
  • If you have wireless, at a minimum use WPA. You may also consider MAC ID filtering.
  • Your router can work as an incoming firewall, but if you let others on your internal network, you might also consider a software firewall such as Zone Alarm. It also does double-duty as an out-bound firewall, which can block requests from your PC to the Internet.
  • As mentioned above, you should not keep the default password for the WinXP Admin account. It is very easy to access the user manager (User Accounts) from the Windows Control Panel and make a change.
  • Configure your computer to automatically download updates from Microsoft. (See the Security Center in the Control Panel.)
  • And of course, have a virus protection program, use Firefox for browsing, and use Thunderbird for your email.
Have you made sure your network and computer secure?

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