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Destruction of the Internet

Donald G. Perrin

 “I cannot send in my class work - my computer is virus infected
and does not work.”

“The network is down!” “
My email is down!” 
 “I never received your email.”

This past year has seen numerous instances of interruption to internet service due to hackers, spam, spyware, virus, worms, Trojans, and malicious code causing the failure of computers, servers, and networks. For distance learning it raises a question, are our computer systems and networks vulnerable? Do we need to accommodate service interruptions? Or can we prevent them?

The editor researched this topic when the web hosting company for this Journal suffered a massive virus attack. Service was not restored in a timely manner and the URL was subsequently moved to another hosting service.

Are our computer systems and networks vulnerable?
...............................................................The answer is yes!

Protecting your home is a useful analogy to explain how to protect your computer. Consider the following questions:

  1. What kind of neighborhood do you live in?

  2. Is your house secured with a perimeter fence and alarm system?

  3. When you leave your house, do you leave doors and windows open?

  4. Are valuables in full view and the safe unlocked?

  5. Do you invite in strangers and give them access to your financial information?

  6. Do you have support of law enforcement and security services?

Here are the parallels for your computer:

Neighborhood is the Internet. Your best protection is to have several lines of defense against intruders such as locks, alarms, and security systems.

Perimeter defense is a secure network with firewall and encryption. Alarms warn you when unauthorized users attempt to gain access, or malicious programs, spyware and viruses infect your email and Internet resources. Configure your computer to apply critical updates as soon as they are available. These include patches for operating system and applications, antivirus pattern files, and filters for spam and spyware.

Doors and windows include physical locks on your computer or keyboard,  strong passwords, and limited permissions. Permissions determine which files and folders are shared, who can access them, and level of access for each user (read-only or read and write). There are also ways to “harden” software to reduce vulnerabilities.

Communication ports used for email and internet are like windows into your computer. Protect them with antivirus and filters for spyware and spam.

Valuables that require special protection include personal, business and financial data. Protected against intruders (hackers) and unauthorized users by strong passwords and encryption. Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) and encryption are advised whenever data is transmitted across a network.  

Strangers include emails from unknown sources and visits to URLs without certificates. (Certificates are credentials that identify trustworthy websites.)

Security services include antivirus, spyware detectors, and spam filters to eliminate unwanted email.

Vigilance and commonsense. Use the following procedures to guard against infection:

  1. Ensure that your computer has an effective firewall and antivirus.

  2. Install patches and updates as soon as they are available.

  3. Do not open email from unknown sources.  Delete it!

  4. Do not open email attachments unless you are certain of the contents.

  5. Do not download files from unfamiliar sites.

  6. Never supply personal information. (A criminal can “spoof” a trusted organization and use your information to take control of your computer, empty your bank account, and steal your identity.)

  7. Never store passwords on your computer.

  8. Avoid unnecessary risks.


Yes, you can protect your computer and your data.

  1. Set up several lines of defense: Physical security, perimeter defense, passwords, permissions, antivirus, firewalls, and patch management.

  2. Take advantage of added security factors in the newest operating systems and software. Keep your Antivirus subscription current.

  3. Be vigilant and take care with strangers.

Follow these steps and it is unlikely that your computer, or your distance learning courses, will be compromised.


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