Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary?

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Hi all you experts.

Am just about to go broadband.  I cannot fit the latest Norton's
firewall on this machine (too little RAM).  It it necessary to have some
kind of firewall to avoid spyware and other problems on my internet
banking, and if so can someone recommend one that fits in small RAM?

Thanks in advance

Re: Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary?

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If you have Cable/DSL just get a NAT Router.

(Remove 999 to reply to me)

Re: Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary?

NAT only gives protection against connection initiation from the
outside.  There are too many other ways to compromise a system for this
to be sufficient.

In answer to the original question, do you need a firewall or other
security product, No (blasphemy).  However, the effort it takes to stay
safe without the help requires more time, effort, and knowledge then
most people have to spend.

Couple of recommendations for security on underpowered systems.

1.  Get a DSL router with NAT and firewall (not the router alone).  It
helps a great deal against incoming attacks.
2.  Shutdown all un-necessary programs.  All that crap that every
product adds to your startup sections of the registry.  Don't forget to
look at system and user level registry areas.  Also stop databases,
services, and other programs not being used.  You may find a big
performance boost here as well.
3.  Use an antivirus product (up to date).  Even if you don't load the
active protection for resource reasons, you can schedule regular
scanning and reduce problems.
4.  Use a spyware scanner like Adware.  Again, if you don't use the
active protection, scan daily.
5.  Tighten up browser security.  Use Firefox, disable active content,
or make it prompt before running, disable pop-ups, don't accept cookies
6.  Be smart and aware.  The seedier parts of the net are more likely
to give you problems then well established sites like news sites.

Don't confuse firewall, antivirus, spyware, popup blockers, and
security suites.  The suite contains all of the above, the others may
have some overlap, but ultimately do one major job and address a single
class of threat.  You need to be protected from all the threats to be
truly safe.

Really, if time is money to you, I recommend boosting the RAM and
putting on the security suite.  But I wish you well in however you
decide to handle it.


Re: Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary?

I very much appreciate these answers, but they are a bit over my head.  I
need to explain my situation more.  I am using a single laptop with 64 Mb
RAM and will be connecting to my local ISP through a microwave link to a
tower they have on a hill.  So there will be no intervening routers etc. at
my end.  I need the simplest solution to making my internet banking secure
that will work within W98 and my RAM.

I expect I will be running Word or Excel but nothing else - except possibly
a PDWS decoder for pagers (but if this is a risk can trun it off).
Although this microwave system will "always be on" I was instinctivle
thinking of unplugging from the computer when I am not using it.

I suppose it's spyware I'm most worried about - ie programs that will read
my password and send it somewhere

Any other info with this increased information?

Thanks wrote:

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Re: Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary? wrote:
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The problem isn't securing your internet banking. That'll be pretty much
secured via HTTPS. The problem is all the _other_ things on Win98 that
are there by default and need secured. If all you access is your Internet
banking site, you don't browse any other sites, read e-mail or download
anything, then the minimum of a software or hardware firewall is all
you'll need. If you read e-mail, or browse the general Web, or run instant
messaging software, or basically do just about anything else that involves
the network, you'd be well advised to use both a hardware firewall (to
protect against incoming direct attacks) and a software firewall (to give
you some control over outgoing connections), and to install a good
comprehensive antivirus/antispyware suite with real-time scanning of files,
Web pages/content and e-mail.

Of course even the above has limits, since Win98's old enough that many
of the more recent exploits aren't patched in it and won't be. Normally I'd
recommend upgrading to a more recent supported version of Windows, but those
might not run on the sort of hardware you've got.

-- because for some problems there's only one solution.

Re: Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary?

Leythos wrote:

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NAT gives no protection against spyware.

-- Lassi

Re: Broadband on W98 - firewall necessary?

Lassi Hippelšinen wrote:
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Nor does a firewall.

Nor do most security products.

Determining which security products will protect you from spyware depends on
which spyware you're talking about.  There is no product known that will
protect you from all threats, known and unknown.

I like to advise people that they should look at security measures and ask
"is this on my top ten list?", and not do anything that isn't on the list.
Obviously, as you work through the list and discard items, something that
wasn't on the top ten list before may come back onto the list and deserve to
be done.

[I think this deserves to be today's blog entry - ]

When you're on Windows 98, I think that your top ten list starts with:
1. Unplug the network cable.
2. Upgrade to Windows XP.
3. Install Service Pack 2.
4. Convert your hard drive from FAT to NTFS.
5. Upgrade your applications.
6. As much as possible, stop running as an administrator, run as a
"restricted user".
7. Check that the Windows XP Firewall is enabled.
8. Plug the network cable back in.
9. Upgrade (at from Windows Update to
Microsoft Update (look in the bottom right for the link).
10. Download and install patches for everything.

[Please don't email posters, if a Usenet response is appropriate.]
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