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Search Topic 39:

Best Internet Security

Web Search Guides

by J. Nagpal, Assistant Editor

 I.  Overview Of Topic

Nowadays you need the best Internet security possible. Hacking has become a full time occupation rather than just a fun pass-time for many college kids as well as professional crooks aiming at a quick buck. In response many Internet users worldwide have become increasingly paranoid about sharing their credit card information, bank information and personal data online, which in turn has impacted e-commerce – though hardly crippled it. E-commerce revenues have exploded as Internet use has become almost as commonplace as making a phone call. Today over 90% of U.S. homes have Internet connections, and 72.5% have broadband.

But many people have only the sketchiest understanding of Internet security and how to protect their computers and bank accounts from thieves. This article will cover the basics and provide references for more in-depth info about the best internet security currently available.


First on your list of defenses should be a good firewall. Your firewall will prevent unauthorized access to your computer from any external source, and the settings can be varied from low security to high. Another thing the firewall does is to generate a log file capturing connection details like the systems which are trying to gain access to your computer and also the data that is being sent out by you. Windows XP/Visa provides a firewall by default. Alternatively, you can download a number of very good free firewalls like Comodo and ZoneAlarm.

Antivirus Software

Next, you need a good antivirus program. A virus is nothing but a malicious computer program written to muck up the workings of your computer by corrupting your hard disc and data files. Viruses come in many guises. One of the most common is the Trojan horse. Like its Homeric predecessor, Trojan horses are seemingly-benign invaders – they enter your system disguised as something else then destroy or steal your personal information without you being aware of what's happening. Then there are the worms. Worms are malicious programs which replicate themselves and spread to your entire computer network, often resulting in its total breakdown.

One of the best Internet security precautions you can take against viruses is to swear an oath to never open an email attachment unless you're positive it's safe (e.g., from someone you trust). Beyond that, you need antivirus software. Some cost money, such as those supplied by Norton and McAfee. Others are free, like some of those offered for free download by Avast and AVG.

            Anti-Adware and Anti-Spyware            

          Adware is software that causes those annoying and distracting pop-ups. Spyware is a little different. It grabs info off your computer and passes it onto  its remote master. Both adware and spyware can ride piggyback on the   free software you   download, then latch onto your system files and corrupt them. These types of “malware” are nearly as annoying as a virus, though they seldom do  direct harm to your system. Your defense is anti-adware, such as AdAware. And more importantly, to protect your system against spyware, try ZoneAlarm Spyware.  Needless to say,  Norton and McCafee also supply anti-spyware.
Secure Web Browsing

  • For a more secure web browsing experience, it's a good idea to disable third party cookies that let the advertisers keep track of your system (in IE, click on Tools, then Internet Options, then Privacy). Another simple yet effective methodology is to enable “warning text boxes” that will alert you if your are entering an unsecured connection (in IE, click on Tools, then Internet Options, then Security, then Custom Level). A couple useful add-ons to keep in mind are Ad- block which prevents pop-ups, and No-script which protects you from XSS attacks by allowing scripts to run only from the sites that are trusted by you.

  • IE 1.7 browser comes with an extended validation certificate that allows you to see SSL certificates of companies you are thinking of doing business with. This serves to enhance e-commerce security as a Web vendor has to undergo a certain amount of vetting to obtain their SSL certificate. This extensive validation of the vendor website at least provides some assurance that you are interacting with an authentic website and not a malware or a phishing website with fraudulent encrypted certificates. Incidentally, Firefox 3 and Google Chrome also come with EV certifications. So for safer browsing always shop using an EVC browser.

        Data Protection Using Encryption

With online fraud and laptop theft on the rise, it's a good practice to protect your data using strong passwords and encryption technology. Many people today protect their financial and other private information using passwords that are not encrypted and hence can potentially be cracked using free online tools. But by utilizing one of the many new encryption tools like the free open source real time encryption software Truecrypt you can greatly increase the security of your data. All you need to do is to download and install Truecrypt and the software will then automatically encrypt and save any files you are downloading or creating on your system. Truecrypt can also be used to encrypt your whole database if you wish, thus making it essentially useless to anyone who tries to steal your data or computer. Encryption is the single best Internet security practice and should be used by anyone who has an interest in taking all steps possible to prevent data theft.

   Encrypted Email  

As is well-known, email is the primary means whereby a virus can enter your computer, mainly due to lack of authentication and security. To resolve this problem encryption based on public key cryptography methodology can be used in email. Here's how it works. The user is given two different keys; a public key that is published to the outside word and a private key that is kept secret. Whenever the user sends a message, he encrypts it using the private key. The receiver then decrypts the message using the public key. This ensures total security of the data being transferred. A variety of protocols are used in email encryption, including S/MIME, Open PGP and identity based encryption. There are lots of companies today which are offering email encryption services like Centurion Mail which can be integrated into Microsoft Outlook to send encrypted emails that can be opened only by using passwords. Another similar service is being offered by Secure Information Courier which deploys an ActiveX control in your company website that has to be accepted by every first time visitor. This then helps the visitor to transfer secure data to your website and also send virus-free emails.

          Intrusion Detection Systems

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is necessary for best Internet security by securing the system against network attacks, Trojan horses, worms and unauthorized access to system data files. An IDS basically consists of a sensor to detect security threats, a console to monitor events and a centralized engine to log all the details. There are different types of IDS which are currently available. Some IDS just warn the system users against the probable security threats, while the more proactive ones give an alert, close and open ports, and also reset the connections from unknown sources. There are a number of free Intrusion Detection Systems which are available in the market today, the most popular being Snort NIDS and Bro NIDS.

          Securing a Database

In many systems, a database is at the heart of an IT system, making security of the database paramount. The most important thing to take into account to secure a database is to use strong user names and passwords. Also ensure that a proper user management system is established by the database administrator to provide restricted access to the sensitive information. All data that is being fed into the database by the user should be properly validated to avoid database corruption.


The most popular social engineering fraud technique which is currently in use by hackers is “phishing” -- re-directing you to a fake site with the same look and feel as the business site you're trying to access, be it PayPal, Yahoo or your bank site, and then asking for your login information. Your login information is then used for any of a wide variety of types of financial fraud. Another common method of extracting your information is by sending you dummy emails asking you to confirm your personal information. One defense is your spam filter, which may block most phishing emails (Yahoo Email has one of the best). Also there are various types of client based anti-phishing software available, like Mozilla Thunderbird and Earthlink Scamblocker. Your best Internet security defense, though, is plain ol' common sense. Never divulge your personal or financial information to anyone on the Internet you don't know.

That's it, our ten minutes are up! (Well, maybe twelve or thirteen.) Below are some additional resources to help you continue to research Best Internet Security.


For Further Research

To continue your research on Internet Security some additional online resources follow:


If you are looking for a free open source solution to the "best Internet security" problem that will help you protect your computer system against all the major Internet security hazards, then Untangle is the software for you. The various products that are offered include anti-virus, anti spam, anti spyware, web filtering, anti phishing and also VPM. Almost 95% of the products offered by Untangle are free, though there is a license fee if you want to buy the professional edition with premium features.

The website provides a comprehensive comparative study of Internet security suites that are currently available in the market and discusses the features which each offers. These security suites, aside from protecting your computer from damaging viruses and unauthorized access, also help in parental control in terms of monitoring web content.


Shyfile is encryption software which encrypts any text-based or HTML application in a new executable format that can be attached to your emails or even uploaded on any website. Shyfile uses its own TL6144D algorithm for encoding and decoding the file. Shyfile even comes with a file shredder that can be used to delete a personal file present in your system so that no one is able to restore it for misuse.

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III.Discussion Group


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