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IRC Information.....

Security - How and Why to be Safe

Let's Be Safe!    (top)

Security has become a huge issue these days, with new warnings issued every week covering the latest viruses and trojans found worldwide. As consumers of the Internet, and IRC, we must educate ourselves and safeguard our systems as best we can.

On IRC, we constantly remind our newcomers to never accept files from someone they don't know. Even with ourselves, we are cautious and careful to only accept files from those we trust. Downloading files from the Internet and IRC both require extreme caution. People should ONLY download files from reputatible sites on the Internet. Please note: All the files on this site have been run through two anti-virus scanning programs, and all have been used and tested ourselves.

One of the reasons the viruses have become such a nuisance, is that the standard default settings of Windows does not show a person the full extension of a file. For instance, if I wanted to send you a picture of myself in JPEG format, you might see me send you a file called bossmom. But in reality, the file's name is bossmom.jpg. Many Windows machines are not setup to show the full extension.

In addition, nasty people have learned that they can send a seemingly innocent file -- one with a hidden extension -- to a great many people either via the Internet, IRC, or ICQ. As an example, let's say I have modified an executable file to behave badly (meaning it does something bad when it is clicked upon). I could code into my bossmom.jpg this bad executible file, and I could rename it bossmom.jpg.exe. If I wanted to infect people, I would send this bossmom.jpg.exe out to others. A normal Windows user would still only see the bossmom.jpg and when they clicked upon my picture to view it, it would trigger the executible, and whammo.....problems!

I can't stress this enough, for MOST Windows users, the last extension of .exe would be hidden to them as a result of a default Windows setting.

Not a pretty picture! (no pun intended :) The reason so many people are getting infected worldwide is that they do NOT have 'Show File Extensions' turned ON. People don't realize that when they are clicking on an innocent looking file, it is really unleashing a bad program loose into their computer.

Changing Win95/98 File Extensions    (top)

If you'd like to change your Win95/98 settings so that you can see all known file extensions and hidden file types, please do the folowing, do this:

1. Open up your Windows Explorer

2. Select View - Folder Options

3. Select View (in the little popup window)

4. Look under Files and Folders, then select Hidden Files and CHECK Show All Files.

5. Then look under Files and Folders and UNCHECK Hide File Extensions for Known File Types

6. Click on OK

Important!: Once you've completed all that above, you may think you are safe..but not quite. There are still some files that will NOT have their extensions show up, and what's worse -- these files are executable files. Files with hidden extensions of .shs, .Ink, and .pif are becoming the carriers of malicious viruses and Trojans.

Taking the above-listed measures won't prevent some files from slipping through some gaping holes left by Microsoft, but it will help a great deal. Most importantly, don't ever accept files from someone you don't know, and if you receive attachments through your mail program, delete them immediately unless you are 100% positive of the contents of the file.

Changing NT4 and Win2K File Extensions    (top)

Coming Soon!

Using a Firewall    (top)

Another very good option is to use a personal firewall. This acts like a blocking agent between your computer, and other computers (users). The firewall will detect when persons might be trying to check your computer for open ports. Finding an open port is like leaving the back door to your house open while you go shopping. You just never know who might walk through, or what kind of damage they can do.

I would recommend that you download ZoneAlarm from ZoneLabs. It is a FREE firewall, and seems to be doing a good job. I've used it for about a month now, and am experiencing no problems. The program has also caught (and logged) other people scanning my computer. The firewall detects these probes, but it does not allow them access. If you are a StarTrek fan, think of a firewall as a forcefield. As long as it's up, you are safe, but if you lower your firewall, then you are once again vulnerable.

If you'd like to visit our page with more details about viruses and trojans, please visit here: Trojan, Virus, and Worm Information, or check here for a comprehensive page with multiple resources for downloadable programs: Virus, Trojan, and Security Solutions.

Email Security    (top)

With the recent surge of SPAM being sent, and the never-ending problem if virus sends through email, it's a good idea to refresh ourselves on the importance of protecting our email addresses, and being prudent about who we share them with.

One of the most courteous things we can do is to protect the emails of our friends, etc, by using the BCC option when sending emails. The BCC option is really the Blind Carbon Copy option, and all email clients should support this feature. If they don't, you may want to consider switching to one that does :)

Typically, when mails are sent, most people will put the email addresses into the TO section of their email client. For just one person, or a few family members, this is fine, and works well. Something to keep in mind though, when sending mails out to a group of people and putting all their emails into the TO section, those people have lost the privacy of their email addresses, and it only takes one unscrupulous person to gather all those emails and pass along to a SPAM account. In addition, many email programs are setup to automatially add to your address books any incoming email addresses, and this increases the risk of you inadvertently forwarding on virus infected emails to those people who have written you.

To protect the privacy of others, and to take at least one protective step towards closing the gap on one source of email collection processes, when you send mass mailings, or forward on jokes or fun stories to family and friends, simply put the email addresses into the BCC option, and then when the mail is sent the mails are not posted to everyone else that receives the mail. Instead, you may see something like this:

     To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>

Very kewl, eh? It's easy to use the BCC, doesn't take any longer than the TO option, and by golly, your friends and family will offer you hugs and bake you cookies. Not a bad tradeoff for hitting the tab key a few times :)

Routers and DCC - contributed by Tuxsurfer    (top)

After reading the following question at least a gazillion times: "My DCC is not working ... can anyone help me pls ??", I have been thinking about the cause or causes of this 'problem' for quite some time now.

Most of the people asking this question did everything alright configuring the Chat-Client or other applications they are using to connect to the internet. DCC or other network-services should be working fine, but they don't.

The most common reason for the problems those people are facing is, in my honest opinion, a not properly configured piece of the network. Due to this, the 'information' needed by the 'other side' (remote host) is not being transmitted over the network (In this case the network is the 'bad, bad' Internet.), or the packages send by the remote host are not reaching the network in which the requesting computer (local host) resides.

To have a better understanding why this is happening, one has to know what the different networking devices are doing with the network traffic they send and receive.    Click to get the whole article in pdf format


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