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Threats Recapped

As we discussed in Chapter 5, many attackers on the Internet want to compromise your home systems for various reasons. Your job is to be your own system administrator as well as security officer. You must protect and defend your home computer on a daily basis. The “why” behind being attacked over your broadband connection is easy to understand. First, the speed of your connection allows quick attacks. Second, because you are always connected, attacks can go on for days. If you were on vacation for a week and left your computer on, you could have a week of unnoticed attacks by a determined intruder. Third, automated programs such as worms can hammer away at your connection without human intervention. We have seen the damage that worms like SirCam, ILOVEYOU, Melissa, and others have caused against corporations. Just imagine what has happened to home users who have not reported anything to the authorities. Fourth, if you have a large hard drive, it can be used as a storage point for pirated software, or warez. Because you are always on, hackers from around the world can connect to your compromised machine and drop off and pick up files. Fifth, a good hacker never attacks his final target directly from his own system. He uses multiple hops along the way to cover his tracks, and your system can be one of those hops. Last, your personal information is a gold mine—everything from your bank statements to your Quicken files can be used to cause trouble. With all the information that is on your PC, someone could easily steal your identify.

The built-in features of both Windows and Linux make it easy to compromise an unprotected system. Even if you lock down the operating system, the applications you run such as Internet Explorer or Microsoft Outlook pose threats to the system that cannot be ignored. Malicious software such as some of the spyware products we mentioned can slide under your security precautions. All these problems lead to the need for additional security features that are not inherent in the operating system.


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