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Ever wonder if anyone is watching YOU.  Well, it can happen and it can happen to the best of us.  There is a way however to reduce the number of prying eyes looking at you.  Plus, if you are a home user or non-profit organization, you can do it for free.  That's right.  For free.  Here's how:

Go to  and you can download a free program called   ZoneAlarm.   Once you have downloaded and installed it it begins protecting your system immediately.  What is does is makes your system invisible or transparent on the internet.  In order for someone to connect to your computer, they must first find your computers IP address.  This number (the IP), defines your system to your local ISP (Internet Service Provider).  Once someone has this number (meaning they know you are on the internet), they can perform different methods of gaining access to your system. 

With the ZoneAlarm program installed from , they no longer can see your systems IP address and their IP Scanners pass over your computer.  You are running in Stealth mode.  Pretty Cool.  This is especially helpful if you are on ISP's such as RoadRunner or if you are sharing your IP connection with other computers on your network.  There are alternative programs you can pay for such as @Guard.  @Guard throws in a few extras like eliminating those annoying sales banners and ads everyone seems to be throwing at you.  Unfortunately, @Guard was purchased by Symantec who is going to  put it in the Norton Internet Security Package which means a very fine program has just been corrupted.  For some unknown reason, rather than leave what's working alone, the put in a few more bells and whistles thinking they are doing good for us but only wind up causing problems with the extras.

For added protection that can't be beat by any other software package, click on the picture below.

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I for one, am discontinuing my use of @Guard because whatever Symantecs' brings out now will too much.  So long @Guard.

If you are wondering how vulnerable your system is, you can test it by going to www.grc.com.   This is the site for Gibson Research Corporation.  The owner there is Steve Gibson who has been around this industry for quite awhile and knows what he is doing.  He has a program there that will allow you to test your system security and recommend ways of securing it.  He also recommends ZoneAlarm to secure your system.

He also has some very good reading that takes you into more detail of things that are interesting to know in the computer industry.

On a different thought, we should talk about Spy Ware.  Yes it is out there, available on practically any web site you visit.  One or two are no real threat.  10 to 5000 can be scary. So to keep others eyes and computers out of our life we should have some form of self defense.

Spy searching programs are one of the best tools you can use in your defense and so is anti-virus software. 

In regards to Spy ware discovery software, we recommend two products to start with.  Ad-Aware available from Lavasoft at http://www.lavasoft.com .  Get the freeware version and it should do you fine.  Do not let the program run in the background though.  As a second program, we recommend SpySweeper from WebRoot http://www.webroot.com .  Their software does have a fee of about $30.00 and is well worth it.  Pays for itself in it's first time use. 

Spy ware can be downloaded to your system, code run and the next thing you know it has written to your registry.  Now when you boot, it runs.  If you don't clean it out before you reboot, the programs load.  Running Ad-Aware after each internet visit can reduce the introduction of these programs either by removing the Registry entries or deleting the spyware files.  For those programs that work their way past Ad-Aware there is SpySweeper.  Program takes a little longer to load but can remove those stubborn programs.  These programs usually attach themselves to the Winlogin in Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 Server editions.  The most common one known is WinFixer.  If you havn't seen it, you most probably will. 

Save yourself time and money.  Get these programs for you won't go wrong. 

Virus software is important but shouldn't be run in the background.  Many virus' can be in the wild from one to two weeks before discovery by even the best of Virus Detectives.  We recommend the use of F-Prot by F-sescure.  You can go to F-Prot to purchase and get the simple basic version.  It allows free program and virus definition files for a full year.  Price is reasonable, and their detection is superb. 

Anti-Virus makes your system run very sluggish and doesn't always detect the latest threat soon enough.  When a Virus hits it can make your system run sluggish.  If it is already sluggish from the Anti-Virus Software, how will you tell when you get one of those virus programs that has yet been detected out there?  If the Anti-Virus wasn't running in the background, then the virus would make you machine run slow and low and behold, you run the virus scanner and there she blows!

Install Anti-Virus software but disable it from running in the background and set it to run on demand, you know, when you want to run it.

Always get your definition upgrades before doing any checking whether it be the Spyware checkers or the Virus Scanners.

In other methods of protecting yourself, there are many things you can do.  You could also install a good backup system or better yet, a good Read-Write CD-RW Drive such as those made by Sony.   If you don't want any surprises down the road, we recommend you buy Sony CD-RW , DVD-RW Drives.  I really don't want to go into it here, please, just take our word for it.  Sony has been the best running drives we have installed to date.  Their durability is remarkable.  To my knowledge I have yet had to replace one under warranty. 

CD-RW and DVD+-RW is low cost and very reliable when it comes to making backups.  Yet another alternative to backups is a portable, external Hard Disc Drive. 

Personally I hate running Anti-Virus programs of any sort in the background (or un-attended mode).  I only use them when I have to remove a virus.  Your best protection of anything is keeping a good system backup.  Forget the Anti-Virus stuff running in the background, run your spy checkers often, and safe surfing.


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