Using Your Firewall against Spam

Though the internet is a great resource for businesses, students, and the curious, it also resembles a dangerous urban environment where rules are broken and the innocent are victimized on a daily basis.  Just as it is in the real world, your vehicle to success can be easily hijacked if the appropriate anti-theft measures are not put in place.  When your computer is connected to the web, your operating system and personal information may be vulnerable to various attacks from schemers, hackers, and spammers. 

Protecting your system and personal security

Similar to how physical viruses operate, a computer virus will run wild in a host machine and inevitably spread its infection to a large number of innocent victims.  In both cases, awareness and prevention is often more effective than the actual remedy itself.  It all begins by stopping the virus spreaders before they even reach your system.  One method of defense that can help you make sure of this is a firewall program.

Understanding anti-spam firewalls

Like those designed to fight off security threats, anti-spam firewall does a great job at keeping virus writers and determined spammers at bay.  While no program can be considered one hundred percent hacker proof, many of them work well at what they were designed to do - prevent spam from reaching your inbox. 

Any computer that is connected to the web via broadband or dial-up should have some type of firewall installed at the bare minimum.  Anti-virus and anti-spyware applications are also recommended to evade more serious system threats. 

An ideal firewall application will have the ability to conceal ports that hackers seek out when looking to acquire access to your operating system.  It should also be able to keep you aware of any attempts at intrusion by providing detailed reports of the activity.  Some of the best prevention comes in the form of two-way firewall programs that block incoming threats or outbound threats to prevent infections such as a Trojan horse, virus, or malware being installed and distributed to other systems.    

Choosing appropriate anti-spam firewalls

Microsoft has addressed the ongoing problem of spam and viruses by integrating firewall applications that are built-in with their operating system software.  By default, this feature is enabled on systems, such as updated versions of XP and the new Windows Vista.  Unfortunately, many users will disable the function to avoid being annoyed by frequent message pop-up warnings and indicators.  Unless you have plans of implementing another type of firewall software or hardware to protect your computer, this function should always remain enabled. 

There are a few good spam firewall applications available for free, including Zone Alarm and Zone Alarm Pro.  Though neither of them comes included with utilities to monitor and prevent adware, they are effective solutions to begin with and can help you to properly address highly probable threats in regard to the security of your system. 

A quality anti-virus program should be used as a backup just in case hackers and spammers are able to penetrate your firewall.  The program should be configured to automatically quarantine or delete any security threats that are detected.  Remember to keep all of your programs updated with the latest patches and never open unsolicited messages or the suspicious attachments that accompany them.  

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.