Potential hacker

  bob308w 08:14 02 Jan 2006

I occasionally get the message from my firewall/anti-virus ware (Bullguard) "your ports are being scanned by a potential hacker, they have been blocked for 600secs". Sorry if this is an obvious question, but should I be worried? And If Bullguard is protecting my PC, why does it bother to tell me this?

  GANDALF <|:-)> 10:33 02 Jan 2006

You will NOT get hacked on a home computer. Hackers are not interested in the utter drivel that is on mine and everyone else's

Firewalls are useful in stopping Trojans dialling out but to be honest, if someone wanted to put a dialler on a computer, it would not be rocket science. If you are on BB there is no chance of anything dialling out. There are at least 5 programmes that can by-pass firewalls, 'TooLeaky' having the Gibsonmeisters' grudgingly awarded seal of entry. The Cult of the Dead Cows' Back Orifice, cheekily named after Microsoft's' Back Office, could easily be put on a target computer, if one was really trying and the firewall would still be asleep dreaming of bytes.

However, like my computer, most home computers contain utter drivel which is important to the owner but naff all use to the great unwashed. Bank and credit card details can be culled much easier than rooting through turgid files on a home computer. Hacking is NOT about breaking into home computers, it is about getting onto networks using passwords.

The 'alerts/attacks' are merely computers on the net asking your computer if it is still connected; these queries are called 'handshakes'. When you are connected to the net you could be going through many servers and routers. This occurs in a millisecond, so you do not notice. All these routers and servers need to know that your computer is receiving, so that they can send images and WebPages to your IP, which is in effect, your mailbox or receiving station. When on the Net you can pass through more than 20 servers and routers and they could all be handshaking your computer at short intervals. You will notice many of the 'alerts' come from Telecoms, which should come as no surprise as they own most of the routers etc. It is also interesting and miraculous that the 'alerts' disappear when you pay for the *ahem* Pro-Version of a firewall (see Zonealarm;-) ).

If you were being hacked, I can assure you that you would not get an alert.

Turn off all the alert buttons/warnings on your firewall safe in the knowledge that you will not be hacked.

If it is any consolation, I do not use a firewall on both my computers and I am on BB. I use a firewall on my laptop only because I take it to clients...so out of respect for their fears

  Forum Editor 11:09 02 Jan 2006

he's talking good sense. I cannot remember the last time I saw a home computer that had been hacked - it was certainly more than a few years ago.

Before I'm swamped with emails telling me it can happen, yes, I know it can, but the chances are so remote as to be not worth losing a millisecond of sleep. Use commonsense precautions and you'll be safe from things that go bump in the internet night.

  bob308w 12:12 02 Jan 2006

...for your descriptive and amusing answer. Where would us pc nomads wandering in the dark be without you and the others that give their time and knowledge so freely?

  teak goblin 12:16 02 Jan 2006

hi gandalf,
that was a very imformative post , so a firewall on a home pc is just to keep out trojans and to give the end user peace of mind,

  GANDALF <|:-)> 12:34 02 Jan 2006

If you give permission for a programme to execute then any firewall will be totally useless (spyaxe was a good, recent example). The problem with all the 'protective' programmes is that users become totally dependent on them and assume that they will protect against everything.

Naturally I am not implying that every computer should have no protection and be on the net 'au naturelle'. A decent AV is a necessity and from my experience there is NO difference between paid for and free ones. I have never heard a convincing argument for a home user to pay and they would be better off using the free programmes and using the money saved either for a memory stick to back up documents or towards an external HD which will be of much more use and will deffo save your bacon at some time.

I run a mailout list of over 90 AVG users and all of them have never had a problem......this speaks louder than any of the fantasy scenario tests that the 'AV test' companies use. I do find that the free ones take up much less resources and I have removed many examples of Norton that were seriously slowing up a computer. Again, sorry to repeat myself but no one has ever put forward a good argument for paying for an AV.

Same with firewalls, the paid ones have more knobs and switches but the number of 'ZoneAlarm Pro' programmes that I have seen incorrectly conformed, is legendary. There is NO need for a home user to have a pro firewall. If a hacker wanted to get onto a home computer there are a few, readily available programmes that make it triple easy. The fact that there has never been a confirmed attack on a home computer, that has actually removed bank details etc. should give a subtle hint. Firewalls can be useful for stopping dial outs but more later

There is a huge amount of paranoia about 'security' and I get the feeling that some people relish in this. There are many forums with 'Malware Warriors', 'Spyware Seekers', Spy Gladiators', Knights of the Malware table' and other Morte D'Arthur names, ready to give advice. This is fine but they rarely publish a simple guide to preventing worms and Trojans and almost always give the impression that home computers are constantly under attack from from youthful, spotty hackers. There are many viruses and Trojans around but these are not targeted at any computer but are just chucked out in the hope of causing someone somewhere problems.

Saying that alerts from firewalls are rampant attacks is not quite true and if I see one more article saying that the alerts that Zone Alarms gives out are attacks from hordes of hackers, I will trash the offices of the person who wrote it, as this is grossly irresponsible and here is the reason why................When a computer is on the Net the information it receives can be from up to 50 servers. All the time the Net is pinging a computer to see if it is still there. When you 'go to' a web site you actually have the web site sent to you and you do not 'go' to the site. For this to succeed you need a unique address (IP) so that your computer is easily identified. Imagine your computer as a letterbox, if no one knows your address you get no mail. To ensure that your address is still current you will have many pings (where are you and are you still on the net requests from many servers....these are the much talked about attacks.

If you give permission for a programme to run then NO firewall will stop it; this is the reason why so many computers are infected and why the spy forums are bulging with requests for help. It is too easy for these programmes to get onto a computer and a few simple rules will prevent them. Remember, if you give permission, even unwittingly, a firewall will be as much use as a chocolate teapot. The number of computers that I see with Trojans and Worms on is beyond belief and they all have firewalls....................................

  GANDALF <|:-)> 12:34 02 Jan 2006

There is a huge amount of paranoia about security and I get the impression that a small number of people relish this. It makes them feel elevated that their home computer is so important that the hackers of the world target it on a regular basis. This is not true. I would bet that every infection is self inflicted from ignorance or laziness, so if this guide is followed I can guarantee that you will have no problems.....1) Keep your AV and anti-spy programmes up to date on a daily basis or every time you go on the net.

2) lay off the sites that display people who have had all their clothes stolen. They are generally not illegal and we live in a 'free' country, so remember that you must not click any 'yes' buttons and never agree to install any programmes, enter yes to join a 'survey' or toolbar buttons. View and never click is the golden rule. The huge amount of Pr0n addresses that I see in the history files leads me to believe that these sites are a lot more popular than is talked about in polite society and confirms the reports that they form 80% of all net traffic ;-))))

3) Children.....they are usually the #1 culprits. I can usually guarantee that any household with teenagers will have some sort of infection even with any firewall known to mankind. Children are targeted because they usually do not know the problems that downloading toolbar helpers and activeX programmes can cause. They must not download any free programmes no matter how enticing.

4) Spend half an hour reading about spyware etc., it is not rocket science and they all work on the basis that you will have given them permission to run. This will probably have been given unwittingly so you need to be aware of clicking on any programmes or dialogue boxes.

5) Get a good AV, MS Antispy and Adaware as a back up. Use a LITTLE common sense and you will never have a serious problem.

6) Do not share files. A shared folder on a computer is NOT safe. When you download a file you are giving permission for that file so a firewall or AV will let it through and they could easily miss a virus or Trojan. Lay off sharing on Messenger; this is probably the unsafest sort of file sharing and the root cause of problems on teenager's computers. If you get sent an attachment on an email be cautious about opening it especially if it is from someone who you do not know.

If anyone wants to add any please do but if you follow those 6 rules your computer will be safe.


  Pineman100 19:53 02 Jan 2006

Thanks so much for that very interesting treatise. I regard myself as a moderately literate computer user (despite my age!) but I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to the topics that you've covered. I've printed off both parts, and will read, mark, learn, etc.
Thanks again.

  Bogbrain 00:45 03 Jan 2006

I would agree with gandalf, there is an amazing amount of ignorance and apathy amoung online users. A few 'simple' precautions would prevent much of the chaos and damage that happens to peoples pc's online plus unwittingly infecting and damaging others users online as well.
Praps there ought to be a sort of 'L' plate for online beginners as a warning to others, or at least a method of forcing a/v s/ware to be installed and enabled and antispyware before they are ever allowed anywhere near being online.It's as much to protect others as themselves.
Also, parents are a lot to blame as well, as they seem to allow children to use pc's in bedrooms as 'mechanical tranquilisers' with no idea of what their kids are actually up to online, especially if pc's are networked at home.

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