Chapter 18. Internet Security

The Internet is the primary source for almost all the attacks on your computer. Someone may be trying to break in to steal information or a worm from another infected computer may be trying to use the latest exploit to infect your box as well. So how do you protect your Internet connection? I show you how you can test your computer and see how vulnerable it actually is. Then you find out how you can use the firewalls to build a "brick wall" around your computer. Additionally, you discover how to protect yourself from other Internet threats such as spyware and what to do to clean up an infection.

Analyzing Your Security

The first step in securing your Internet connection is detecting where you are vulnerable. Your specific network setup (for example, if your computer is behind a hardware firewall or router) will affect how exposed your computer is. For example, if you have a high-speed broadband connection and share it with more than one computer in your home using a router, your computers are already better protected than a computer that is just directly connected to the Internet. By default, most routers act as a firewall by blocking all external Internet traffic from coming into your home network. However, if your laptop is infected and you plug it into your home network, all the machines become vulnerable because the threat is now inside your firewall. I go into more detail of how firewalls work in the next section, but first, let's test your connection ...

Get Windows® 7 Tweaks: A Comprehensive Guide on Customizing, Increasing Performance, and Securing Microsoft® Windows 7 now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.