If you’re buying, building, or reformatting a PC, please don’t connect it to the Internet via broadband — cable modem or DSL — until you read this.
Instant Infestation. One of this morning’s Lockergnome newsletters included the article Practicing Unsafe Web, which is a must read. The author reformatted a PC, installed Windows XP, SP2, and Microsoft AntiSpyware, and enabled the built-in Windows firewall. Going online, he found he couldn’t download and install Zone Alarm (firewall software) or AVG Antivirus. Why not? Because the malware got to him first!
An Ounce of Prevention. His recommendation: before you go online, make sure you have working antivirus software, antispyware software, and a third party firewall, such as Zone Alarm. I agree, except about the firewall. I’d rather have a fortress than a platoon of noncoms to protect me. Skip the software firewall — which, like antivirus and antispyware software, needs constant updating, and which will interact with other software — and get the almost completely bulletproof protection of a hardware firewall. How? Get a router. Every one comes with a first class hardware firewall built-in, no tweaking or updating required.
A Pound of Prevention. Wired broadband routers from major manufacturers — I prefer Linkys by Cisco Systems — are available at your neighborhood office supply store at everyday prices around $60. Or get one on eBay for half that. Connecting a router is as easy or easier than connecting a printer, so there’s no excuse for passing up this protection. Of course, some folks just like pain…
P.S. Wireless routers have built in firewalls, too. For a few more bucks and a little more setup time, you could have your protection and a WiFi network, too.