PC security question

  tasslehoff burrfoot 22:40 09 Jul 04


When discussing firewalls, lots of people use the old "leaving your front door unlocked" analogy.

Now, (and I'm not trying to re-ignite the great firewall debate here) we are also constantly getting warnings about security flaws in MS products which can leave us open to attack.

2 Questions:

1/ Is this not what firewalls are there to prevent? Or do these flaws enable would be attackers to circumvent a firewall?

2/ To continue the analogy: Is having a firewall running on an MS system like locking the door but leaving the key in it?

Sorry, I know that was 3 questions.



  Gaz 25 22:44 09 Jul 04

A firewall does not totally prevent flaws. However Blaster worm was prevented becuase my computers port 135 was effectivly secured.

So in theory they do prevent some - but not all.

Firewalls do secure your computer against novice and script kiddies - but are not a total protection method against pro hackers.

However most pro hackers are simply looking for my computer which runs a webserver - not the average home computer.

So a well protected home PC would be nothing of interest to a hacker.

  tasslehoff burrfoot 23:02 09 Jul 04

Thanks for the info.

But if a computer is well protected how does a hacker know if it's a home PC or not?

I can understand that, once they "get in" they will soon tire of giggling at photos of granny getting drunk at Christmas, but can they tell what's a home PC and what isn't from the outside?

Also, where I work we hold a lot of incredibly sensitive information about virtually everybody in the UK. A huge number of colleagues work from home so surely the information held on their home PCs (and worse the means to get onto the works intranet)is at risk. This makes me think that hackers will hack home computers to try and find something "juicy" like this.

I have often been in a position where I need to take work home but don't as I can't guarantee it's safety.

Or a I worrying about nothing?



  Gaz 25 02:34 10 Jul 04

Usually can be identified either becuase they have webservers on them, or they do reverse DNS to see the ISP. If its an ISP connectionnlike business broadband - they have you.

but mostly hackers targer servers and websites.

Home PC's needent worry as long as a firewall stops them showing up on their port scans.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 08:55 10 Jul 04

Let's be a little realistic about this........If a 17 year old Welsh youth can hack into the ultra-secure North American Missile Defense System and 150 other US Govt. 'secure' sites I will bet that ZoneAlarm may not be somewhat ineffective as I assume that the US sites had a slightly better firewall;-)).

You will not get hacked on a home computer no matter how many 'port scans' a person may do.


  CurlyWhirly 11:33 10 Jul 04


I disagree with your comments 'that you will not get hacked on a home PC' as have you not heard that hackers are installing keyloggers on to PC's that attempt to steal confidential information like passwords? Mine was infected a few weeks ago with a keylog-briss trojan so now I run a dedicated trojan scanner to try and stop them in the future!
Also have you not heard in the news that trojans are attempting to install on a PC turning them into 'zombie' PC's where the spammer can spam to his/her heart's content with the infected PC taking the blame from hacked off users?

  Indigo 1 12:14 10 Jul 04

If you are really worried about being hacked then don't leave your PC connected to the net unless you need to download something. The chances of it being spotted (or scanned) then would be too small to measure.

You could always have a second PC for sensitive stuff and never connect that one to the net, second hand ones are now so cheap it makes this option more sensible.

Or alternatively have an external Hard Drive with minimal software on just for sensitive stuff and use it only when offline.click here

  terminus 12:19 10 Jul 04

My last PC got ripped to bits by something out-there.
I have lots of backup discs' so there were no problems in that dept.
I had a few weeks off blueyonder held my BB acount open without charge.

I came back on-line last week with a brand new PC.
The guy who built it, has a couple of shops in B'ham, he bench tested it for 36hrs. He also installed Norton Professional, "Mike." he assured me every thing works perfectly udates, every thing.

In the last week Norton has updated itself, and at least once a day, sometimes twice the firewall tells me it has blocked a backdoor trojan, orifice etc.

How Norton AV works I don't know.
I get Email continualy from the blueyonder anti virus manager saying this mail is infected do not open.

So my conclusion is, there's so much rubbish flying about the net, anyone without a firewall and av, ain't the brightest bulb on the Xmas tree.

  Indigo 1 12:57 10 Jul 04

A firewall is not foolproof neither is an AV prog even if they are updated regularly.

Nothing is foolproof to a talented fool.

  Dorsai 13:26 10 Jul 04

I am a home PC, not a coprporate web server, and i got so fed up with my firewall telling me it had blocked attempted attacks/intrusions from various things that i just told it to block them, but don't tell me about it. I don't know how many i get now, as it no longer tell me when the happen.

As a point of interes i just went into the statistics pane of my fire wall and sinse i signed onto the net 15mins ago is has blocked 6 attempted intrusions.

So much for home PC's not being targeted.

  Forum Editor 13:40 10 Jul 04

are not intrusion attempts at all, they're simply the background activity that goes on all the time - the internet being the internet is you like, and your ISP will certainly be one of the 'intruders'.

True hacking virtually never affects home users because hackers aren't interested - they are drawn to big corporate and government servers, and don't see the point of hacking Wayne's Packard Bell so they can find out what username/password combination he uses to access Kylie's fanclub site. Commonsense should tell you that you shouldn't store your credit card or bank account details on a home computer in any case, and anyone who does so is being foolish. Otherwise, any hacker who cares to see pictures of my wife kissing a dolphin in Antigua is very welcome to try.

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