No slipping on this ice

I had a lot of visitors over Christmas. Almost 2,500 at last count. Sadly, most of them were unwanted and uninvited. They were computer crackers (amateurs and pros most likely) who were trying to use my machine in order to hide their true identities from law-enforcement agencies or to get at files or personal information on my computer. And all over a 36-hour period.

How do I know this? An amazing piece of software called BlackICE Defender. Anyone who has a dial-up cable modem or DSL (high-speed) connection to the Internet should visit the Network Ice site and buy a copy right now.

With mainstream media agog over e-commerce and the information economy, the rush to get faster bandwidth into consumers' homes has attained an Oklahoma land-rush mentality.

Unfortunately, the media and Net companies pushing faster access seldom mention the security problems that come with Internet Dialtone, as always-on Internet access is called.

The majority of probes on my machine were ftp port probes (file transfer protocols are commands that create an open door on your computer, telling the computer to accept an incoming file). Crackers use programs to scan hundreds and thousands of machines to find people running ftp programs in order to use them as drop-off sites for illegal programs (porn, copyright infringed MP3 music, for instance) that they want to hide from the authorities.

BlackICE Defender is basically a firewall for your personal computer. It detects and blocks these intrusions, and then creates a track back to the offending party that you can submit to their Internet service provider. You can purchase BlackICE Defender only at the Network ICE Web site (http://www.networkice.com/). But at $39.95 it may be one of the best online purchases you make this coming year.

*Send e-mail to Tom Regan at Tom@csmonitor.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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