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Time to Get on the Defense
By Patricia Ouellette

The Internet has opened up a whole new world for millions of people everywhere and it has become a powerful tool for the servants of Christ.  Everyday there are many lives being saved in Jesus' name through the millions of Internet ministries that are now available.  Praise God for the Internet and the power that God's Sword of Truth is wielding through the Information Super Highway.

However, as every door opens for the truth, Satan is also there, using the lost to wield his malice. In recent times, the number of attacks on Christian sites has increased to an alarming level. It is time for us to get on the defense; time to fight the fires of evil and the first place to start this defense on the Internet is to build up our own defenses.

As Christians we know that our sword and shield is the Lord and His Word. Through prayer we can conquer all things in Christ, and in Him we attain wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowledge, and knowledge together with faith is our defense.

Putting a good defense into play is important if we are going to win the war –and it starts on our own doorstep.

In order to win this battle, we need to have knowledge of our enemy – the tactics that are being used against us and what we can do to cut down their offensive, while building up our own defense.

First let's look at some of the ways in which we are being attacked through the Internet.
  • Remote Login - This is where someone from another computer can access your files and software from anywhere in the world.

  • Application Backdoors - some software have backdoors that allow for hidden access, providing a level of control of that program on your system.

  • Email Bomb - This is when someone sends you an email hundreds or thousands of times until your system cannot accept any more. This has been known to crash some systems.

  • Macros - This is a script that allows programs to basically perform commands automatically. Hackers take advantage of this and create their own macros, which can destroy your files or crash your system.

  • Viruses - The most well known threat of them all. A virus is a small program that can copy itself to other computers, usually via emails. They vary from relatively harmless to totally destructive, erasing all your data.

  • Spam - The electronic equivalent of junk mail. Highly annoying and can be dangerous. Spam usually contains links to unsavoury sites, some of which can insert a small-embedded script to your computer so that every time you open your browser, illicit sites will open on the screen.
Our first line of defense is to be diligent in backing up our work. If you do not have the hardware or the resources to back up your whole system, you can save your treasured documents to a floppy disk or two. Better yet, burn them on a CD.

Our second line of defense is to take up the services of our Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). Most reputable service providers will offer virus and spam protection as part of their service. Some will charge a nominal fee for these services. ISP's can afford the high-end software that the general home PC user can't. It is well worth the cost to take up their offer of protection and it is also highly recommended.

Our third line of defense is a good Anti-Virus program. There are many available today. Pricing will vary, from $200 down to $20 (US Dollars) and there are a few for free. Remember that expensive does not always mean the best. Research is the key to discovering the best software for you and your system.

When looking for the right Anti-Virus software for your system you should look for something which:
  • Is inexpensive.
  • Is easy to install and use.
  • Offers easy to follow explanation of configuration options.
  • Has automatic update features with regular updates made available.
  • Automatically scans all files, emails and websites viewed, downloaded or opened.
  • Alerts when a virus is detected.
  • Quarantines any virus with options to fix, debug and delete.
  • Has ability to be used automatically and manually from your system.
  • Has notification of virus alerts and update availability.
Optional Extras:
  • Spam guard
  • Firewall
Anti-Virus software is only as good as the updates you get. You have to be diligent in making sure you get all your updates for the virus database within the software. Most will automatically update, but you have to be sure that your system is either on the net or able to connect at the time the updates are set to run. 

Scanning your system is also very important. Regular, daily virus scanning is advisable.

There are also Anti-Virus scanning systems available online. These are good for secondary scans. However, it is imperative that you have an Anti-Virus program on your system. Never rely solely on ISP or online provided Anti-Virus protection.

Our fourth line of defence is the use of a firewall. A firewall is a software or hardware device (hardware devices can be very expensive and are usually only used by companies with multiple computers on a network), which protects our systems from unsolicited access and receipt of data. In plain English, they stop others from accessing your computer and also help to stop spam, viruses, unwanted advertising and pop-ups.

There are quite a few firewalls available on the Internet today; too many for me to list in this article. Windows XP has one built in. It is advisable to do some research and learn all you can about the different firewalls that are available in your price range.

When looking for the right firewall for your system you should look for something that:
  • Is inexpensive.
  • Is easy to install and use.
  • Offers easy to follow explanation of configuration options.
  • Hides all ports to make your computer invisible online.
  • Gives protection from all kinds of attacks (look at the list above)
  • Tracks all potential and actual threats.
  • Alerts of serious attacks
  • Ensures there is no unauthorized entry or exit from your PC.
If you are running Windows XP, be sure to disable the inbuilt firewall before you install your new one. Do not have more than one firewall program on your system. It is important that you uninstall any firewall you may have on your system using the software's uninstall option or the Windows Remove Software option in Control Panel.

IN CONCLUSION:

Half the battle is won if we all keep up a good defense on our own systems. Diligence is the key. If your system or web site has been attacked, be sure that you report it to the Federal Law Enforcement Agency of your country. Unfortunately, there are too many for us to be able to list them all, search the Internet for 'your Country e.g. Australian, Federal Law Enforcement Agency IT Crime Reporting'. Due to jurisdiction boundaries, it is important that you report Internet crime or abuse to your country’s federal law enforcement agency. Under INTERPOL most countries are working together to break down the jurisdiction boundaries.

For more on Information Technology Crime, visit the Interpol website http://www.interpol.int/Public/TechnologyCrime/default.asp.

Let us join hands in winning this battle – now is definitely the time to get on the defense!
Trish Ouellette is a wife and step-mother of seven glorious children and three grand children. Trish and her husband Jim, run a small computer business from home, as well as two large Internet ministries, which keep her busy designing websites, fixing, upgrading and building computers and teaching computer and Internet technology. With every minute of her spare time she explores her talents in writing and art, which is available to view on her personal website Christ Driven Brush & Pen http://christdriven.evangel-list.com.


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