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Protecting Yourself Online

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posted on Dec, 27 2007 @ 08:54 PM
I am sure most of you run Windows (either XP or Vista). Although Windows is a "user-friendly" operating system, it is vulnerable to hackers, viri, spyware, etc. Vista especially, as many of us know, has built-in back doors for the NSA. This allows government officials to gain access to your files, not a good thing. But what can be done?

I asked myself this very question over one year ago and the answer was quite simple: install Linux. Horror stories usually circulate regarding how difficult Linux is to install and operate, These are not true. The transition from Windows to Linux has been quite enjoyable. I ran into a few major problems which were the result of my laziness.

Linux is the most secure and reliable operating system around (yes, it's better
than OSX and Leopard). Security updates are frequent and installed nicely without the usual issues one encounters when running Windows. Linux has no open ports which means no way for hackers to get your data. The source code for Linux is open-source which means users everwhere can check the code to identify security flaws and/or bugs.

If you are worried about not being able to play games anymore, fret not! Simply dual-boot Windows and Linux (as I do) and you can still play WOW! Linux comes with OpenOffice, a free "Office-like" program which is also available for windows.

I run Ubuntu and I have enjoyed everyday since I installed it. There is a forum with thousands of members eager to help even the most novice user through a problem.

I urge you all to check Ubuntu or some other distro. out. Secure your internet time!!

If anyone has anything to add or challenge please feel free to respond!

posted on Dec, 27 2007 @ 10:33 PM
Yeah, linux is fun...

posted on Dec, 27 2007 @ 11:15 PM
I have tried it and it does not like my hardware.

Intel mb with 975 chipset, e6600 cpu, 2 gigs ddr2-800, 400 gig drive-ide.

I think it does not like my vid card-nvidia 7800gt, but not sure as it locks on load...............

posted on Dec, 28 2007 @ 11:53 AM
Wow, I really want to look into these "built-in back doors for the NSA". Kinda creeps me out.

Since the topic "Protecting Yourself Online" will bring windows users here, I will add my safty tips for Windows. Windows is ok to use online, but you must be safe on the internet.

Think of it this way, your Windows box on the internet without safe measures, is the same as me, your average white guy in Cali, wandering around cities in Iraq. Sure, it will be ok for a while, but I wont last long.

My internet rules:
1. Use A Firewall - Never ever connect a PC to the intenet unless you trust the firewall. Lean how to tighten all your security settings. Linksys routers are acceptable, but a Linux box as a firewall would be better.

2. Use Antivirus - Use a trusted brand, I have been ok with norton for 14 years. Im sick of free brands. We use Office Scan at work, and its completely useless. Norton kills bugs dead fast, as long as you update it daily.

3. Use safe wifi - If you have a wifi router use 128-bit WEP or higher encryption.
Choose not to boradcast your SID, or choose a silly name like FBI Surveillance or something (I think more will mess with you with a name like this, hehe)
Lock down WIFI connection by MAC address.

posted on Dec, 28 2007 @ 01:09 PM
thanks guys for the tips!

posted on Dec, 28 2007 @ 01:19 PM
Since I do dual-boot Windows and occasionally have to go online to get their updates, I'll share some of the free security software I use. Again, please feel free to add to this list.

ClamWin AV : an open-source antivirus program. Very thorough, updated daily.

CCleaner: securely deletes files. Over-writes files up to 7 times to ensure they can't be recovered.

SpybotSD: searches for various forms of spyware. Has been a reliable tool for many years.

EraserPortable: does the same thing as CCleaner, but over-writes up to 35 times.

FireFox: this is rather self-explanatory. Much more secure than IE.

FireFox Addons:
Ad-Block Plus: blocks unnecessary ads from websites which slow browsing

No Script: blocks certain scripts (like flash) from running without your permission.

All of these programs and many more are a google search away. I am in no way affiliated with any of the software except for the fact that I use them. Excluding the FireFox addons, these programs are for Windows XP or Vista.

posted on Dec, 28 2007 @ 01:20 PM
RE: Vista

[edit on 28-12-2007 by skoalman88]

posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 04:36 PM
reply to post by skoalman88

I never looked for a comparison, but I think that FreeBSD is more secure than Linux.

I use the Internet for almost 12 years (it will be 12 years in January) and I never had a problem.

Using a good firewall is one of the best things we can do, but the best is to learn how things work.

I have a computer connected to the Internet that works as Web server. It is on-line since August 2002 and I never had a problem with it. It has Windows 2000 installed with ZoneAlarm as the firewall (Windows 2000 did not had any built-in firewall).

I got information about the best way to protect it from attacks and so I installed some free add-ons from Microsoft, then I went to Gibson Research Corporation and used their on-line test to see what ports I had open on my computer and then I closed all that I did not wanted opened. I used TCPView from Sysinternals (now part of Microsoft) to see what programs were using what ports and since then I never had to do anything to keep it working flawlessly.

PS: I never saw any real proof of NSA back-doors or any thing like that.

posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 05:23 PM
Here's a sweet tool that can give you a 'heads up' on a website before you visit it. McAfee Site Advisor (free edition)

The Site Advisor team pro-actively test websites for scams, spyware viruses ect and when you use your search engine, the tool will display an un-obtrusive indicator next to each resulting web link based on its findings (red cross for bad, green tick for good).

Note that this software does communicate back to McAfee in order to check web site addresses against its master database however no personally identifying information such as your IP address is stored.

[edit on 29-12-2007 by freeradical]

posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 06:58 PM
I've been using Kubuntu for 6 months, very similar to Ubuntu ... gave Kubuntu a try out following a disastrous experience with Vista Ultimate.

And now that I'm used to Linux I'll never go back to Microsoft products ever again ... it's without a doubt the best OS I've ever used ... and I've used every version of Windows since 3.x. Heck, I've even given away my Vista install disc, Norton and all the rest of that propietary crap I've accumulated - I'm just a total convert.

If you do anything, send away for the free install CD. Spend a few minutes visiting the Ubuntu community ... they're ever such nice folks ... and very much in tune with ATS ... anti-establishment ... and with a home PC which proves it too !!

Being a linux n00b I found there to be a wee bit of a learning curve for the first week or three ... but once you're over that you're laughing ... at everyone who uses Windows !! Go on, give it a try ... won't cost you a dime.

posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 07:18 PM
I guess I am the odd man out...

I bought a laptop a few months ago with Vista Premium installed and thought about downgrading to XP but decided to leave it alone and see for myself instead of listening to dubious or unreliable sources...

It took a little getting used to , but I fell in love with it.. So much so that I am typing this on my old desktop with my new version of Vista Ultimate I just purchased from Dell...

My laptop has the "Ultra-Brite" screen and on this I am using the SyncMaster 206, 21" and Vista is fantastic.. It has run flawlessly for me with the exception of having to search for drivers every now and then and get advice from some experts on here. But I had to do that with XP when it first came out.. I was using ME and it was a load of bull hockey..

So, just to let you know, there are some of us that Vista is working for.. I would recommend it to anyone...

(No I don't work for Microsoft..LOL)


posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 11:03 PM
reply to post by semperfortis

I agree that it does take time to get used to Vista and, aesthetically speaking, Vista is top-notch. However, in typical Microsoft fashion, software (in this case an Operating System) was prematurely released. Concerns regarding bugs, security holes, Microsoft collecting data through updates, deactivation of the software key following a reformat, among others, have arisen.

On my newer laptop, on which I dual-boot linux, Vista looks nice, runs decently (I need more RAM though). For someone with an "older computer" Linux would be ideal. Ubuntu, for example, needs (correct me if I am wrong) only 128mb of RAM to run efficiently.

As for FreeBSD, I am not very familiar. I urge people to check out a variety of free operating systems to find one they enjoy.

Semper indeed

posted on Dec, 31 2007 @ 10:52 AM
I've tried many Linux distros and I particularly like Suse as it is complete. I've also tried Xandros, Lindows (works like windows), Mephis, and Ubuntu - Gnome and KDE environment. All of them are stable and secure. Virus is not even a threat.

However, in my experience it takes time to get used to it because I'm a right handed person, and using linux is like using your left hand.

I went back to good old XP and installed Norton AV, AVG Anti Spyware. XP itself is stable, however, its so prone to attacks. The only way is to have a good back up routine and regular scanning.

One word of advice - stay away from chatrooms, it is a doorway for nasty viruses and spywares. Only download softwares and drivers from reputable sources.

[edit on 31-12-2007 by amitheone]

posted on Dec, 31 2007 @ 04:58 PM

Originally posted by semperfortis
I guess I am the odd man out...

Not quite. I prefer my Windows OS to other ones, and yes I've tried them. One of the disadvantages for me is that other systems have far fewer programs available than Windows does. I've also tried "clones" of Microsoft products (Open Office -- which ATE my Master's thesis 2 weeks before it was due.)

I found Vista a little odd, but liked it after awhile.

As to protecting yourself, the best protection is education. Relying on an operating system like Ubuntu to "protect" you is a dream.

For ultimate protection, never EVER store sensitive information on a hard drive. Put it on a flash drive or burn to a CD and keep it off your system when you surf. Cookie blockers are sometimes helpful... but knowing what's been sent and what can be accessed is the most important thing of all.

Oh... and deleting spam without opening it. Can't tell you how many folks click on or open ads and end up with all sorts of problems to their systems.

I also use a web based email (Spamcop and Gmail) rather than downloading it onto my hard drive. I don't put anything sensitive on Gmail... Google could be a target for a security probe because of its size. Spamcop is a small operation and wouldn't be anyone's first choice for an investigation.

posted on Dec, 31 2007 @ 05:26 PM
That is great advice..

What is the old internet adage?

"Don't put anything on the internet you would not post on a highway billboard"

As for Viruses and the like, AVG and the Vista firewall have been doing a good job for me although I may go to an after market firewall when one comes out that actually works with Vista..


posted on Jan, 1 2008 @ 04:23 PM
This is exactly why I love ATS. So many knowledgeable pepes who have been around the block a few times that can give us diosaurs some reputable advise. Thanks for all the tips!

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 08:27 PM
You use what works. If Microsoft products suite your needs use it. If Linux products suite your needs use it. There is no question that education plays a pivotal role in protecting yourself but what I've seen time and time again is that people are generally too lazy to RTFM and they pay the price.

I think the comments that Vista was released prematurely is unsubstantiated. Vista is obviously a mammoth project and there is no way to guarantee a desired state when talking about closing security holes, etc. I can say this because every single Microsoft OS thats been released has had som form of patch or service pack, its a part of the software life cycle.

The NSA backdoor issue I think is an urban legend. Government agencies have far more capable and insidious means of peering at your data.

Also the comments made for wireless are somewhat deceiving. WEP, not broadcasting SSID's and MAC based authorization are all easily defeated.


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