Net security threats growing fast

More than 30,000 PCs per day are being recruited into secret networks that spread spam and viruses, a study shows.

According to a BBC News report today, it’s too early to say whether the Service Pack 2 update for Windows XP will make a positive difference to the numbers of PCs being compromised.

The report said that the key challenge is not XP users but the Windows 98 and 95 machines still out there.

BBC News | Technology | Net security threats growing fast

Whatever version of Windows you’re running, here are my quick tips for better PC protection and more peace of mind:

  • If you have the decision on your own computing environment, upgrade to Windows XP. Ditch any previous version. And install from scratch, not just an upgrade.
  • Install a firewall. The improved one in Windows XP SP2 is better than nothing, but better than XP’s is a product like Zone Alarm or Norton Internet Security. (I use Zone Alarm, free version, on most of my PCs.)
  • Make sure your network gateway has a hardware firewall, with the strongest encryption and other security features it supports.
  • For a wireless network, it’s essential you have wireless encryption set up; you should also consider settings that permit access only by specified PCs.
  • Set Windows XP to get critical updates (the ones all do to with security and fixes) from the Windows Update site and install them automatically.
  • Install a reliable anti-virus product. I use Norton Anti Virus, but there are others equally as good. Make sure you set the product to automatically check online every single day for updates.
  • Ditch Internet Explorer and get Firefox.
  • Get a good spam filter for your email. If you use Outlook, I recommend the product I’ve been using for over a year – Cloudmark SpamNet.

If you have a Mac, you might have some smug smiles but don’t be complacent – Macs also have security issues. Linux users can take a bit more comfort.