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Keeping Your Valuables Off The Street 5 February 2002 Edition
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Breaking news: New security hole discovered in [insert your favourite software here].

Breaking News: New virus/trojan/worm spreads like wildfire across the Net.

Yes, it seems like every day a new threat to the security of your valuable data is discovered and reported.

Not only is the stability and reliability of your PC compromised, but there's a risk that your valuable passwords, commercial and private data may be exposed to the scrutiny of crackers and other malevolent types.

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You may have the latest anti-virus software, personal firewall and security updates for your OS and browser -- but there's no way you can guarantee that the next hole isn't going to blow your system wide open.

Anti-virus software does its best to spot commonly exploited weaknesses but it has to be acknowledged that much of the time the companies which write this stuff are reactive rather than proactive. On many occasions their software can't identify a virus until the signature for that virus has been added to the program's database.

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This means that the next virus, trojan or worm to hit your PC may go totally undetected until others have reported it and the anti-virus software vendors have released an update to allow their products to recognise it.

So how can you *really* protect yourself from all this online danger? How can you keep your company and personal data safe from prying eyes?

What about using another PC solely for Email and web-surfing?

With the price of new (and second-hand) hardware forever falling, the option of using an "Internet Only" PC is rapidly becoming the cheapest way to provide protection for your most important data.

After all -- do you take your life savings with you every time you go down to the corner store to buy the paper?

Of course not -- you only take as much money as you might need.

So why put all your valuable data on a machine that is going to be used to surf the Net?

How much would it cost you to sort out the problems that a major cracker or virus strike might have on your primary PC? Most people significantly underestimate the cost of cleaning a system (something that could require a complete reformat and reinstall/restore operation) -- in a commercial environment this can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost time, "expert" consulting fees, etc.

Trawling through the printed edition of T&E I see brand new PCs (900MHz Duron processor, 128MB RAM, 20GB HDD) being sold for as little as $900 (sans monitor of course) and reasonably spec'd second-hand units from $500.

Suddenly it starts to make sense to have a dedicated "Net-only" PC in the office or home doesn't it?

Keep all those financial, personal and sensitive records safely out of harm's way by storing them on a machine that will never be connected to the Net.

Once you've got your "Net-only" PC set up, just dump an image of the HDD onto CDR and then, if you do get hit by a virus/trojan/worm/cracker, cleaning and restoring becomes a very straightforward operation.

Who knows, given Microsoft's recently displayed contrition, perhaps they'd even be prepared to let you install your existing copy of Windows onto this second PC by way of recompense. Or maybe the smarter amongst us might even take the chance to try out Linux as an alternative Net-surfing platform.

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All this traffic has meant that I've had to shift the site to a new server to ensure that your daily dose is always fresh and delivered to your browser with minimal delays.

I also invest over 300 hours per year writing the daily column and compiling the day's news index -- all for your illumination and entertainment.

If you haven't sent any money to help offset the costs of running this ad-free, 100% Kiwi, always fresh, often controversial site then you can give yourself the warm-fuzzies this Christmas by doing so now.

Just drop by, click on the Aardvark, and hand over your loot.

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There are 2 new Vacancies (14 January 2002) In The Job Centre

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Latest
Security Alerts
MIRC Chat Users Vulnerable To New Attack (NewsBytes - 4/02/2002)

'Dangerous' hole discovered in Morpheus (ZDNet - 4/02/2002)

Admins asked to check buggy line printer daemons (AAP - 08/11/2001)

New vulnerability exposes Excel and PowerPoint macros ZDNet - 29/10/2001)

Latest
Virus Alerts
Gigger worm can format Windows PCs (The Reg - 11/01/2002)

Happy New Year' worm hits Windows (ZDNet - 19/12/2001)

E-mail worm Gokar spreading (CNet - 13/12/2001)

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