How to protect your family from cyber hassles
Whether you're operating a bank on Bishop Street or a home business in Kaimuki, you're going to need anti-virus software, spam and spyware protection as well as a firewall.
Over the holidays I had a chance to give Norton's new Internet Security 2006 software a spin. They have incorporated Symantec's firewall, antivirus, antispyware, and antispam solutions along with parental control and personal-data protection in one package.
What I liked in particular about this "suite" was that Norton AntiVirus now can detect and quarantine spyware as well as viruses.
When I ran the scanning program (which is mandatory upon installation), I found that there was only one spyware program hidden in my system. I found this to be a bit odd because any of the standard spyware programs that you can download for free (such as Ad-Aware or Spybot) literally grabbed dozens of suspicious files. The engineer at Symantech told me that every software security company views spyware a little differently. Some programs will remove "cookies" which can be harmless. Norton's goal, he explained, is to remove the really dangerous stuff that might really "spy" -- that is watch where you go on your browser.
Spyware is so dangerous because it's quasi-legal and can be engineered to be extremely difficult to remove-even for pros. For that reason it's a good idea to not to just rely on Norton to remove spyware but to use other programs available on the market (often free such as Spybot, which is excellent).
Norton's "Personal Firewall" is another handy item. According to the Norton people, even if you have a good hardware firewall, additional security software is yet another insurance policy. You could use Microsoft XP, which comes with a firewall, but Norton's has some advantages. It will detect and inform you if someone is trying to probe your computer from the outside and if a program (legitimate or not) is trying "phone home" from inside your system.
Norton offers a utility called "Program Scan" which will alert you to every piece of software in your system that could conceivably access the Internet (perhaps without you even knowing it) and provide a puka that would permit a hacker to get inside your box.
Another item I like is the parental software component. Aside from jamming "bad" web sites, it will block programs that let you engage in conversations with other users or communities online using text, voice, or video.
Do you have to have Norton to feel safe? I'm sure the Norton people would want you to think that, but so long as you have basic security (whether it's from Norton or another reliable company) you'll be OK.
Many ISPs provide free or discounted security programs for their customers. For example, our company (Oceanic) provides eTrust EZ Armor Security Suite, which has spyware, a spam filter, a firewall and antivirus software free of charge to its clients. Hawaiian Telcom offers McAfee Internet Security Suite, a similar program for its DSL users.
One thing is for sure, at $70 for a package that includes both Internet Security and Antivirus programs, this is a good investment.
general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, has been a telecommunications and computer expert for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org