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March 2002

March 1

Early in February, 60 minutes, the tabloid current affairs show on channel nine, returned after the summer break with a special on *gasp* computer hackers.
It turns out that some unscrupulous people use the internet to hack into other peoples computers. In fact, while you are reading this, your computer could be under attack right now.

OK, so lets cut through some of the hype. Fact. Yes there are hackers out there, and yes, your computer could be a target, but a few simple precautions could prevent attacks.
Use a firewall - Using a personal firewall can prevent random attacks. Most hacks on personal computers are random scans to find a vunerable machine in a target area. A properly configured firewall can hide inactive ports on your machine and prevent unwanted programs accessing the internet. A free firewall is available from Zone Alarm.
Virus scanners - A good virus prevention program is a must. It is important to keep your virus list up to date, these updates are free for the life of the scanner. Trial versions are available from the two most popular anti virus companies, Norton and McAfee.
Email Attachments - Even if you know the sender, never download anything without scanning for viruses and don't open executable files (.exe), some viruses and trojans use weaknesses in Microsoft Outlook to self send to everyone in the address book. A trojan is a program hidden in another, and often used as a back door into another computer.
If you follow these simple rules, you will probably have no problems with hackers.

March 13

I think I have done something to upset technology, it certainly seems a little upset with me. On the weekend I managed to fry the network card in one of my computers, an install of ThinLinux on my old 486 machine didn't go to plan. The boot disk wouldn't boot!
And the other day I was vegging out watching a movie, and even that didn't go to plan. We rented Pearl Harbour, and I sat through an hour and a half of boring plot building and romantic twaddle, then, just as the Japanese started to attack, the movie paused. I tried to get it to play again but it ejected with "Bad Disk" appearing on the TV. Maybe I should have got it on VHS... Ahh well, good thing I kinda know how it ends!

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