For the average Internet user, the most potent form of self-defense is anti-virus software
Operating systems now come with built-in virus checkers, but these are likely to be obsolete before you install your system and new viruses appear daily.
You cannot avoid retrieving a virus, but you can inhibit it from damaging your computer through these common safeguards. Continuously update your virus checker. Keep it current by subscribing to the manufacturer's update program,
usually by paying an annual subscription fee, which enables you to download the latest versions of:
- The virus-checking software
- The database of known viruses
Anti-virus protection software should be installed on the client, the server, and on any firewalls.
Another way to combat attacks is to encrypt your data. In commercial applications that lead to a secure site, the site provider has likely installed SSL or other encryption technology. Examples of such security precautions might include:
- The page where your bank account number and contents are listed
- The page where you submit your credit card number to conduct e-business
- The page where you look up the balance on your mortgage
In the next lesson, you will learn how virtual private networks prevent attacks.
The recent wave of Code Red worms has revealed how vulnerable web servers can be to attacks over port 80, the default TCP/IP port used for HTTP traffic. Expensive firewalls proved ineffective at preventing the worm from infecting vast numbers of web servers through a simple programming bug. While investigating the latest variant, I found that some web servers did not get infected even though they were
vulnerable to the programming bug. This led me to the realization that there were ways to protect web servers from future port 80 attacks that were similar in nature to Code Red.
While applying security hot-fixes in a timely fashion is recommended, there is always the chance of being attacked through a newly discovered vulnerability before it can be identified and patched.
The admin should be aware of the various ways of protecting web servers from unknown attacks over port 80.