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Easy Way In

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In most cases cable or DSL companies such as Comcast or DirectPC are just a single type of Internet connection company. But sometimes companies acquire these one-connection companies to make their companies bigger and better such as AOL buying Time Warner. As these companies get bigger and start to offer more types of connections they also start to have more security conflicts. AOL's software for its dial up connection has a firewall built in to it, the firewall protects it users from hackers and unwanted programs from running. And the software works almost perfectly for keeping unwanted people or programs out, but the only catch is you have use their software. Road Runner, which is now part of AOL, is a cable company, which only provides high-speed Internet access, not full proof security. This problem leaves you open for hackers that are randomly barraging Internet connected PC's with "pings" or "port scans", probing to find unprotected PCs. Once found, a hacker can compromise your PC with a dangerous Internet threat such as a Trojan horse, spyware or even a malicious worm (Zone Labs).

Since AOL doesn't provide any type of firewall or hacker protection while you have a cable connection with them they do suggest certain types of firewall software to buy. For single end users they suggest you use firewall software like Norton's Personal Firewall, which costs around $49.95, or NetBarrier 2.0 if you own a Macintosh. Both of these software packages include basic features for a single end user, for instance the ability to delete your cookies and the ability to set up filters or rules to a computer. For network users AOL suggest that you use firewall software such as ZoneAlarm Pro 3.0 which costs $49.95 for a one-user license and goes up from there. ZoneAlarm Pro 3.0 not only provides cookie control, pop-up ad control but also provides email protection and it can suspend 46 different file types. Unlike other personal firewalls, ZoneAlarm Pro includes Program Control to protect against known and unknown threats. With ZoneAlarm Pro, you can control the ability to specify which programs are trusted to access the Internet, by monitoring all outbound traffic. You can also block and make your computer invisible on the internet-"if you can't be seen, you can't be hacked" (Zone Labs). Another type of software that they suggest is C & C Software's Conseal Firewall. Conseal starts out at $69.95 for a one-user license and goes up to $6,839.95 for an unlimited user license. Conseal provides full support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP along with email notification and a Windows Explorer style interface. But that's not all; it also lets you set separate rules to each network adaptor in your system to traffic passing of the Internet interface or a LAN. Conseal also provides time-sensitive rules which allow you to set permissions for only certain times of day. A example of the time -sensitive rules would be if employees could only get on to the Internet from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Or if you're a devious network administer you can make it so that the employees can only get on the network on Saturday and Sunday. Either way this option cuts down the time that a hacker can use to get on your network. Conseal Firewall even has an option where you can control all the protocols that you receive so that you block NETBEUI and IPX protocols. And finally it does not only protect your computer when it is running but when it is booting up as well (VisNetic Firewall).

All operating systems have their security issues and their vulnerabilities but in particular Windows has had a recent security problem of hackers gaining access to users accounts through Outlook 2000. Since Outlook 2000 has the ability to make your Microsoft Word an email editor, when Outlook displays an HTML e-mail, it applies Internet Explorer security zone settings that disallow scripts from being run. However, if the user replies to or forwards a mail message and has selected Word as the e-mail editor, Outlook opens the mail and puts the Word editor into a mode for creating e-mail messages. Scripts are not blocked in this mode. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a specially malformed HTML e-mail containing a script to an Outlook user who has Word enabled as the e-mail editor. If the user replied to or forwarded the e-mail, the script would then run, and be capable of taking any action the user could take. The vulnerability only affects Outlook users who use Word as their e-mail editor. Users who have enabled the feature introduced in Office XP SP1 to read HTML mail as plain text are not vulnerable. For an attacker to successfully exploit this vulnerability, the user would need to reply to or forward the malicious e-mail. Simply reading it would not enable the scripts to run, and the user could delete the mail without risk (cmacacable). Another problem that has to do with Widows is that unauthorized personal can get into authorized places through a flaw in the SMTP service. An SMTP service installs by default as part of Windows 2000 server products and as part of the Internet Mail Connector (IMC) for Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5. (The IMC, also known as the Microsoft Exchange Internet Mail Service, provides access and message exchange to and from any system that uses SMTP). A vulnerability results in both services because of a flaw in the way they handle a valid response from the NTLM authentication layer of the underlying operating system. By design, the Windows 2000 SMTP service and the Exchange Server 5.5 IMC, upon receiving notification from the NTLM authentication layer that a user has been authenticated, should perform additional checks before granting the user access to the service. The vulnerability results because the affected services don't perform this additional checking correctly. In some cases, this could result in the SMTP service granting access to a user solely on the basis of their ability to successfully authenticate to the server. An attacker who exploited the vulnerability could gain only user-level privileges on the SMTP service, thereby enabling the attacker to use the service but not to administer it. The most likely purpose in exploiting the vulnerability would be to perform mail relaying via the server. Exchange 2000 servers are not affected by the vulnerability because they correctly handle the authentication process to the SMTP service. The vulnerability would not enable the attacker to read other users' email, nor to send mail as other users. Best practices recommend disabling unneeded services. If the SMTP service has been disabled, the mail relaying vulnerability could not be exploited. The vulnerability would not grant administrative privileges to



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