Monday, March 01, 2004

PC is Clean (and regarding toilets)

So I'm officially back online and almost up to speed. Some apps still need to be installed, but it's fine.
Details on cleaning the worm can be found here.

Have downloaded a virus scanner now for my personal PC. Before, it was never necessary, as I always practiced safe computing; haven't had a virus for years. However, there's no safe computing that can prevent a worm from coming in at the application layer, specifically, through an application that I frequently use, which has no security measures of its own (cough, ICQ). Therefore, I am now using AntiVir, a product that I use on every other PC of which I'm in charge. Check it out. It's a fantastic product, and it's free for personal usage. They make their money by selling to corporations and build their brand partly through giving it away free for personal usage. Now THAT'S viral marketing! Pardon the pun. ;)

Furthermore, following the lead of many of my friends, I am no longer using Internet Explorer except to test out webpages that I make. Having 95% of the market (at last count by Gartner) can easily make your product a target of malicious hackers (or crackers, if you will). Given that this ICQ worm was just another attack that utilized a vulnerability in IE, I felt it was time to change.

Firefox is an absolutely amazing browser. FINALLY, a browser that I feel is worthy of competing with IE has come to fruition. I feel that Mozilla didn't cut it quite well enough. Opera tried its best, but it still fell short. But Firefox is nice. Although it uses the same Gecko engine as Mozilla (hey, it was developed by the same group, after all), it feels a lot more responsive than any of the other browsers I've tried (especially since it also seems to use a smaller memory footprint). As well, the user interface is much more simple and intuitive. All in all, this provides a much smoother and clean surfing experience. Finally, it follows industry standards. ;) On these grounds alone, Firefox would be my primary browser instead of IE, whether or not I got the ICQ worm. Oh, did I mention that the tabbed browsing rocks? That's a nice bonus.

A final stage of security that I am considering is a software firewall (most likely Zone Alarm). My hardware firewall at the router works great, but once again, there's no way for it to protect against attacks that come in at the application layer. That's where a software firewall like Zone Alarm can come in. It can detect whether an activity happening is dangerous, at least in theory. Then it'll either block or give you the option as to whether you want to allow the activity (depending on how you set it up). Software firewalls were never something I was a fan of, but in this case, it may finally be necessary; how else do you protect yourself at the application layer, once the intrusion has gotten past the hardware firewall? If I had an advanced SonicWALL solution with integrated firewall and antivirus integrated at the base network layer, then there'd be no problem. When I installed that stuff for corporate clients before, man, did it ever do its job properly. :) One can dream, that stuff is expensive.

So I'm officially clean. I really don't want to have to set up a gateway box and have McAfee scanning ALL incoming Internet traffic. Reports have shown that type of scanning from the McAfee product can slow your Internet speed by about 40%. But I don't know of any other antivirus product that has a similar option. Besides, even if one did exist, it'd probably slow down your Internet at about the same rate. Grr... now maybe I can get back to some quality blogging.

Been wanting to post this for a while.

Famous bathroom and artistic newcomer. Which would you rather use? I suppose that if you gotta go, you gotta go, but isn't this just borderline voyeurism?

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