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AFRICABIZ VOL 1 - ISSUE: 63
JULY 15 - AUGUST 14, 2004
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Editor: Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum
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- ANTIVIRUS + FIREWALL ARE NOT ENOUGH ANYMORE

Four years ago we (last century!), we advise you to add a firewall to your Antivirus package to protect your system against hackers' malicious acts. We stated then that "Virus Scanning Is Not Enough".

Nowadays no one dares surfing the Internet with a broadband without a Firewall plus a Antivirus packages working together as sentinels. The one who does that is heading for troubles half way. As soon as connected, he is (not he may be) infected by deadly viruses, worms and Trojan horses that will render his system useless. He will have to reformat the hard disk to get rid of the beasts.

However, now even a combination of Firewall + Antivirus is no more a guarantee to avoid invasion of worms, viruses and Trojan horses. New kinds of these beasts are now running rampant on the Net that could bypass Firewall.

Indeed, hackers gained expertise in writing sophisticated attacking beasts that create havoc around the world. As you may know, new viruses are detected on the average of three every 18 seconds. Fortunately, some of these are not too harmful. However, one in the hoard may be the one waiting for you.

- ANTIVIRUS HAS A "STATIC" WAY OF FIGHTING VIRUSES

Antivirus need updated "signature" to be able to fend away a new attacking virus. If your Antivirus package lacks the right virus signature the moment a new virus appears, you are in danger if online at that time. All classic Antivirus software has a static way of fighting viruses. The "signature" of a new virus is "cooked" by the software programmers only after said virus starts spreading and infecting systems somewhere in the world. Then, a sample of the new virus is taken, from which a "signature" is computed, and added to the list of signatures that the anti-virus can detect. When scanning a file, the anti-virus will check it against every signature in its list.

Thus, keeping Antivirus signature files up-to-date is a necessary and continuous process for "static" Antivirus software. "Static" because, signature-based anti-virus products can only stop viruses or worms that have known signatures. Unknown signatures require a patch (a development of a new signature), which is often not available for a number of days. Your signature file was up to date at the time of the new attack and you are nevertheless in danger to be infected. That is for the Antivirus.

The Firewall also has an Achilles' heel that is the "attacking gate" for the new kinds of worms, viruses, Trojan horses, Activex applets. Etc. running rampant now on the Net.

- FIREWALLS NEED TO GRANT ACCESS TO THE INTERNET

Indeed, Firewalls (Gatekeepers) do block the ports (the entrance gate to your computer) against frontal attacks. However, they also grant exit permissions to installed programs to access the Net: your browser, the mail system and several other executable programs. And that is where the problem stands. Some of the new attacking Trojan horse could associate with the browser, mails, downloaded files (zip files for instances); could be embedded in images files and wav files to enter your computer. Afterwards, these Trojan horses could be granted exist permission by the Firewall to enter the World Wild Web - stealing vital information (credit cards numbers, passwords and important files).

To summarize, you are in danger if you have only Antivirus + Firewall packages installed. The Antivirus has an "Attacking window" - resulting from the lack of the right virus signature when a new deadly virus is let loose by hackers. The Firewall has a "Naivety's Door" - through which Trojan horses could escape with vital information and files.

- YOU NEED CLASSIC STATIC ANTIVIRUS + FIREWALL + AN "ACTIVE" HOMEGUARD

An active HomeGuard that takes care of an intruder which lures its way into your computer. The Active HomeGuard is like a policeman who checks the ID card of someone inside a city, while the Firewall is a Gatekeeper. If the person's credentials are good, the HomeGuard let him go his way. In the contrary, if the person has a record at the police station, he may be a suspect for a crime under investigation. Therefore, the person is taken into custody for further investigation.

ActiveX, Spyware Objects (capable of redirecting your browser from your chosen browser' default homepage), worms, Trojan horses, exe and zip files being suspects are taken care of as soon as they stealthily entered your computer. The "active" HomeGuard quarantines those beasts in a sandbox. In that virtual jail their activities are monitored to see if they are undertaking unauthorized actions that could be harmful to your computer. If their behavior is correct and not harmful they are released and free to perform their duties on your computer.

Thus, when you install an "active" HomeGuard", any attacking new virus is quarantined in the sandbox and neutralized. In the meantime your traditional Antivirus package will have the time to get the new virus' signature - if it is programmed to perform automatic updates. If your Antivirus does not perform automatic update, then you do it manually.

One way or another you are no more submitted to your AntiVirus package's "Attacking Window" weakness and the attacking virus or Activex object cannot lure the firewall (the Gatekeeper) to granting exist permit to the Internet. You are safe. Further, when you click for instance on a downloaded exe file, a SurfinGuard's pop up asks if you want to Block, Monitor or Allow the file to be executed. Everything is transparent. You are in control as you perfectly know which file you have personally download.

There are many "active HomeGuards" available that features Proactive Defense Against Malicious Code and protect all Microsoft popular applications together with a series of other common applications and instant messaging systems (ICQ). The most efficient Active HomeGuard freeware are SpywareBlaster and SurfinGuard.

SpywareBlaster does have an advantage as it does not need to work in the background to be active and further it does not interfere with applications that make legitimate use of ActiveX such as GuruNet or most RSS readers.

Visit link above listed and choose between SurfinGuard Pro and SpywareBlaster. They both from integrate smoothly with other security tools such as Grisoft Antivirus and ZoneAlarm

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