Protect your website.

OK. so you have built your website and are ready to go public with it, allowing the whole world to learn about your Twinning Group, But, at what cost.

So far it has cost you a lot of time and effort, but as soon as you put it on the web you are laying yourself open to attack from certain unscrupulous people who can enter your site and steal your information, corrupt your files and cause you untold grief.

It is therefore necessary to protect your site and your computer.

The first thing you need to do is install a firewall on your PC, this makes your computer invisible to other computers on the net and therefore a hacker can not even see it let alone enter illegally and discover your personal details.

Your PC may have come boxed with a firewall and antivirus programme either installed or with a selection of CD’s so that you can install it yourself. Norton is one of the more popular protection programmes supplied with new PC’s, but remember that support of these will often run out after the first year and you have to purchase a renewal or upgrade to continue to enjoy their protection.

If you do not have a firewall installed you can obtain a free download from Zone Labs which will give you a basic but very effective firewall. they also have a Pro version which offers many more facilities and will also enable you to discover the source of where any attempt on your machine originated from. but this comes at a cost and is renewable annually. The free version is sufficient for most people.

We have all heard or read in the media recently of the increasing number of sophisticated virus’s on the internet, many of which will completely destroy your computer and, being self replicating will be posting themselves to everyone in your address book. So it is vital that you take as many safeguards as possible to protect yourself.

The way to do this is to install an antivirus programme. You may have an antivirus programme supplied with your PC, perhaps bundled in with your firewall, but there are many others on the market. One of the best is Kaspersky although it is far from cheap but worth every penny of the cost.. There are several free programmes available for download on the web, one such programme is AVG which can prove to be very effective and is very easily downloaded. but whichever you choose, always make sure that you keep it up to date by regular downloads of the latest files.

Most operating systems have loopholes in their setup and you should therefore keep up to date with any fixes they publish, Microsoft Windows for example publish regular updates for their operating systems and if you keep abreast of these you will know that your PC is running at its optimum.

If you have contact details on your website such as e-mail addresses you can find your inbox inundated with all sorts of spam because the spammers can automatically harvest all the e-mail adressess they find in the search engines and target you with a host of special offers you don’t want or even worse, present you with a selection of damaging virus’s.

There are several programmes that will hide your email address from the spiders which are constantly crawling the web for information. You can try disguising your e-mail address in some sort of code or image.

Possibly the best thing to do is not to visibly publish your e-mail address on the website but to use one of the above mentioned methods of hiding and/or disguising it and in addition using a forms option.

The principle of the forms option is to set up a page with a place for the visitor to enter their e-mail address and a space to leave a message, once they have completed the form they just have to press “SEND” and the message will reach you despite their not knowing your e-mail address. By using a combination of these methods no one will be able to see your address either visibly or by automatic web search.

I would recommend installation of a mail filter such as mailwasher, which will filter a proportion of your mail before it reaches your mailbox and, dependant upon the parameters you set in the options will save you hours of time spent reading unwanted, unsolicited and potentially damaging e-mails and drastically reduce the .chances of your receiving a virus in your mail.

Lastly, despite all this there is still one more simple, free and effective thing you can do to protect your computer, that is, to look at everything in your mailbox before opening, and if you think it is even just slightly suspicious and it comes from someone you do not know, then delete it without even opening it. This final step is something that only you can do, as no one else is as knowledgeable as you regarding the likely source of your mail.

To sum up:-
· Install firewall protection
· Install antivirus protection
· Update your operating system for protecton
· Hide your e-mail address for protection
· Install a filter for protection

Protect, protect, protect and you should be safe.

Disclaimer: i have no connection with any of the products mentioned in this article except for either personal experience of them and/or recommendations from other people that I trust implicitly.

© Alan Wicks 2004

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