The Internet is a rich medium. However, with the widespread access and anonymity offered by the Internet come security concerns. You want to be certain that when you perform a bank transaction, your privacy is maintained. You want to provide easy access to the wealth of information available on the Internet, but you don't want your kids exposed to objectionable material. You want to be reasonably assured that while you are exploring the wonder of the Internet, your computer is not subjected to malicious software such as viruses that could cause irreparable harm. These are but a few of the things you need to keep in mind as you think about securing your home computers.
A firewall is the basic device used to provide a measure of security on your network. Virus scanners and spyware detectors are also invaluable on the modern Internet. Many of the threats you encounter on the Internet can be dealt with by using a commonsense approach. The others require that you use the available technology. In no case, however, should you blindly trust technology to protect you without some knowledge of the harm that could come to your computers.
This book focuses on networking with the Microsoft Windows operating system. You'll want to keep abreast of security concerns and updates. You can do this through the Windows Update feature that is built in to Windows XP. Windows XP provides Windows Firewall, and you should certainly implement it for computers directly connected to the Internet. Windows XP also offers Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), which you should use if you use your Windows computer as the device directly connected to your ISP. ICS enables you to share a single Internet connection among all the computers in your network. You should regularly visit www.microsoft.com/security to stay informed of issues relating to security in general and in particular with the Windows operating systems.