Quick links to the programs i run when i am on the net (links are mostly for PC products but many of them have Mac, Linux and other ports)
- Zone Alarm Personal Firewall (Free)
- Web Washer Internet Filter (Free)
- Opera Browser (Free or $30.00)
- Agnitum Tauscan Trojan Blocker and Jammer Registry protection ($)
- At Guard Firewall/Ad Blocker/Cookie Control (Free)
- Norton Anti-Virus ($)
- Hosts File Exploits (Free)
- Ad Aware Spyware Detection (Free)
- Security - to keep the stuff on your machine there, not out in the open. (Firewalls, Spyware catchers, Trojan Scanners, Anti-Virus)
- Privacy - to keep your surfing as anonymous as you need. (Cookie Control, Refferer Blocking)
- Speed - to make pages load faster (Ad blocking, Hosts file exploits)
The first step in securing yor computer is to make sure that you are the one in control! Only programs and people that you trust should be coming and going in your computer. A firewall is the best place to start.
Zone Alarm Personal Firewall
A free, highly configurable firewall which provides protection against incoming and outgoing malicious traffic. (Outgoing traffic from trjan-infected programs is not stopped by the firewall built into Win XP). There is also a $30.00 "Pro" version with even more configurability
Firewalls: Explanations of what they are and what they do:
- How It Works: Personal Firewalls
PC World article in their useful "How It Works" series. Good basic information to get anyone going.
Steve Gibson's site contains a lot of security info and hosts active discussions about security and adware. Some good utilities (LeakTest, port prober) and some scare-mongering too. His star has been dimmed by this recently, but still some good stuff.
- Is Your PC Safe From the Enemy Within?
PC World Article about Gison's LeakTest utility and "firewall leak" problems.
- FAQ: Firewall Forensics (What am I seeing?)
Very complete site with lots of in-depth questions and answers about firewalls and what they do. Some very 'ard-core stuff here.
- The Register's Guide To Do-It-Yourself Online Anonymity
Excellent article on the premier UK tech-site. They say it's for beginners, but it's pretty advanced. There is also an even more advanced article from the same folks.
Privacy and Speed
Once you have established a firewall, cookie and referer control are key to maintaining some privacy online, in addition ad-blocking speeds up your web browsing by not fetching ads from their servers. Obviously, the fewer connnections your browser makes, the faster you go.
- Web Washer Internet Filter
- At Guard
This firewall also includes a good ad blocking program. It removes anything (graphic, connection etc.) whose location contains any of a specified set of text strings (such as /ads, /banners, /sponsors etc.). It also contains a cookie control program. You can tailor your response individually for different websites and also specify a default setting. The program is no longer in commercial distribution, but its technology has been acquired by the Symantec Personal Firewall
- Hosts File Exploits
When the browser wants to connect to an address, it compares the address to a list of numbers and then goes to that location. In order to save time, the browser first looks at the "hosts" file on your local box. If you tell the browser the address is local, it won't even go to the site. So, if you fed in all the ad server names and gave them a local address, the browser would get a message from a page to load an ad, look for the address, find it in the local list and go no further. You can find a more coherent explanation and the list, along with other resources at Steve Martin's site. More on the hosts file at Gorilla'sM site. Note: This exploit may seem a little complicated, but if you follow the instructions carefully, it'll really help)