Computer viruses, spy ware, hackers, spam. True paranoids have good reason to fear what is out in cyber space, lurking to corrupt and ultimately crash their innocent PC. Banks, insurance companies and department stores add firewalls, patches, and teams of technical experts to fend off the next cyber attack on customer information. Would-be criminals dream of sneaking into government computers for the challenge.
From identity theft to pranks, these types of invasive acts continue, despite security measures by the Operating System (OS) manufacturers. Microsoft offers free updates for its software via the web. Microsoft also offers patches for unforeseen vulnerability issues as they arise after marketing new software. To the unknowing PC user, many default settings in the newest Windows installs allow remote access to your PC, unless you manually turn the access off. (Rash, 2004)
Chip makers and OS writers are fighting back, trying to close one of the most exploited holes; the buffer overrun.
Viruses often create overruns by flooding a PC with more code or data than expected, leaving the excess code in an unprotected space on that system where it can execute. Windows XP with SP2--this feature sterilizes miscreant code that overflows programming boundaries by leaving it untagged. Desktops with this CPU enjoy the functionality today. However, Ullrich worries that network routers and mobile devices will not provide buffer overrun protection for some time. (PC World Dec, 2004)
There are options other than Microsoft, called open-source programs. Many are as good or better than their Microsoft counterparts, others literally are headaches. Some of those are LINUX, requiring you to repartition your hard drive to make space for it. There is a version called Mandrakelinux with a built in portioning program. FOXFIRE is a web browser similar to Internet Explorer, not plagued by spy ware. OPENOFFICE is...