When you go onto the Internet, your life is an open book. Its very nature makes you vulnerable to attack. It was designed to allow for the freest possible exchange of information, data, and filesand it has succeeded admirably, far beyond its designers' wildest expectations. However, that freedom carries a price. Hackers and virus writers try to attack the Internet and computers connected to the Internet; those who want to invade others' privacy attempt to crack databases of sensitive information or snoop information as it travels across Internet routes; spyware is everywhere; wireless snoopers can easily jump onto your network; and distasteful and pornographic sites have sprung up on the Web.
In this section of the book, we look at dangers to your privacy and computer when you connect online. You'll first learn about the basic protocols that make up the Internet and that make you vulnerable to attack. Then you'll see how hackers can invade your PC, how spyware worms its way in, how websites and others can invade your privacy, and much more. Along the way, you'll also see how technologies have been developed that can protect your privacy and security.
Chapter 1, "How the Internet Works," delves into TCP/IP, the protocol that makes Internet communications possible. In addition, the chapter shows you how the Web works. By learning about the underpinnings of Internet communications, you'll see exactly why your computer is vulnerable whenever you connect.
Chapter 2, "How Hackers Break In to Your PCand How to Protect Against Them," shows you all the ways in which hackers and other digital malcontents target your computer and attack you. You'll also learn about how "script kiddies"often bored, adolescent boystarget your PC. And finally, you'll see all the ways in which computers can be protected against hackers and script kiddies.
Chapter 3, "How Spyware and Anti-Spyware Work," explains how the most devious of privacy-invaders and security threatsspywareworks. You'll learn how it invades your PC, the damage it does, and how it morphs to evade detection. You'll also see illustrations of some of the more dangerous forms of spyware, such as keyloggers and dialers. And you'll also see how anti-spyware protects computers from invasions.
Chapter 4, "How Websites Invade Your Privacy," discusses controversial technologies that enable websites to track what you do when you're online. It covers cookies, web tracking, and web bugs, as well as a technology that can help preserve people's privacy: Internet passports. Some people worry that cookies and web tracking can invade their privacy. Others disagree, saying that cookies and web tracking can help customize the Web to users' interests. Cookies are bits of data put on a hard disk when someone visits certain websites. That data can be used for many purposes. One common use is to make it easier for people to use websites that require a username and password by storing that information and then automatically sending the information whenever it's requested. Passports enable people to decide what type of information about them can be tracked by websites. Web tracking enables those who run websites to see how people use their sites. Web bugs are another technique for tracking people's Internet use.
In Chapter 5, "The Dangers of Internet Search," you'll see that searching on a site such as Google is not as risk-free as it may at first seem. Search sites can amass tremendous amounts of personal information about you, as you'll learn in this chapter.
Chapter 6, "How 'Phishing' Attacks Can Steal Your Identityand How to Protect Against Them," details one of the greatest online threats to your privacy. In a phishing attack, you get what appears to be a legitimate email from a bank, a financial institution, or eBay and are told you need to log on to your account. But it's a spoof email that leads you to a spoofed site, and your information is stolenand personal identity may be stolen as well. The chapter shows you how phishing and phishing protection work.
Chapter 7, "How Zombies and Trojan Horses Attack Youand How to Protect Against Them," details one of the strangest and well-hidden Internet threats: the use of zombies and entire zombie networks to launch massive attacks and send millions of pieces of spam. Zombies are PCs that can be remotely controlled by hackers, and you'll find out how PCs become zombies and how to protect against it happening to yours.
Chapter 8, "The Security Dangers in Browsers," details all the ways that browsers, in particular Internet Explorer, are vulnerable to attack. It also shows ways to protect yourself when browsing the Web.
Chapter 9, "How Worms and Viruses Do Their Damageand How to Protect Against Them," looks at viruses and worms and how they are detected. Any program you download from the Internet has the potential to be infected with a virus, and it could, in turn, infect your computer. You'll see just how these nasty data killers work and look at antivirus tools that can detect and kill them. This chapter also examines how worms move from computer to computer, wreaking havoc along the way.
Chapter 10, "Wi-Fi Security Dangers and Protections," takes an in-depth look at the wireless technology that has become nearly ubiquitous. Whether you have a home Wi-Fi network, use it at work, or connect to a public hot spot, you're in danger every time you connect. This chapter shows you all the ways you can be attacked, including "Evil Twin" hacking and more. It also details how anyone can protect himself no matter where he connects.
Chapter 11, "Bluetooth Security Dangers," examines another popular wireless networking technology: Bluetooth. Bluetooth is used in PCs as well as personal digital assistants and cell phones, and as this chapter shows, as it becomes more popular, it becomes more vulnerable as well.
In Chapter 12, "How Instant Messaging Pests Work," you'll find out that this simple means of communication on computers can be every bit as dangerous as any other kind of digital communication. It can be used to send you spyware, Trojans, and other pieces of malware.
Chapter 13, "How Spam Worksand How to Fight It," details how spam is more than a mere annoyance because it can also be used to plant spyware, Trojans, and viruses on your PC. The chapter also shows ways in which spam can be combated.
Chapter 14, "How Denial-of-Service Attacks Bring Down Websites," delves into how hackers can bring down massive websites such as CNN and can attack small businesses as well. As you'll see, these kinds of attacks have changed from being purely malicious and are now often part of cyberextortion schemes.
In Chapter 15, "How Virtual Private Networks and Encryption Keep You Safe," you'll learn how these sometimes-obscure technologies can ensure that whatever information you send online can't be read except by you and the intended recipient.
Chapter 16, "How Web Blocking and Parental Controls Work," takes a detailed look at the issues of pornography and free speech on the Internet. Explicit sexual material is posted on the Internet, and some people would like to fine and jail people and organizations that allow such material to be posted. Passing those types of laws raises a host of constitutional issues about free speech. As a way to solve the problem, companies create and sell software for parents that enables them to block their children from seeing obscene and violent material on the Internet. In this chapter, you'll see how one of the most popular pieces of parental control software works.
Finally, Chapter 17, "How Personal Firewalls and Proxy Servers Protect You," looks at firewalls and the related technology of proxy servers. Many companies whose networks are connected to the Internet have a great deal of sensitive information on their networks and want to ensure that their data and computers are safe from attack. The answer is to use firewallssystems that allow people from inside a company to use the Internet but also stop people on the Internet from getting at the company's computers. This chapter also discusses personal firewallssoftware people can use at home to ensure that hackers can't invade their own computers.