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VioPac Network Securities Solutions
Analyzes the "Hacker" Threat

One of the hot topics in today's fast-paced information culture is the possible threat posed by what those "in the know" call "Hackers"- that is, malicious computer experts who will go to any lengths to break into your computer and steal your information.

Information can and should be highly guarded. Among the many ways to protect against "Hackers" is the use of password-protected screen-savers, 40-bit digital scrambling (called "encryption", or "encrypto" for short), and "key-escrow", a system where the Federal Government watches your computer and, if it notices any "Hacker-like" activity, confiscates the equipment and places the owner in Quarantine until the situation is resolved.

However, even with these measures taken against them, "Hackers" sometimes break through the net. For example, one popular "Hacker" program is called UNIX, which is in reality a "remote-administration suite". UNIX can allow a malicious "Hacker" to:

finger: The malicious "finger" program, apparently named after a digit of the Hand of God, allows the "Hacker" to learn your name, track your login habits, determine how long, if at all, you've been logged in for, whether you have mail, when you last read that mail, and so forth. The good news is that the "finger" program only works on people who- wittingly or no- use the UNIX program.

ping: This is a small utility that tracks how many "packets" are being used by your computer. If you are really busy, ping will report a large number of packets; if you are idle- perhaps at work, or in the shower- the program will report that too. "Hackers" can use this to tell if you are at your computer and, if you are not, may break in to your home to steal your information.

traceroute: This is a truly insidious program that "Hackers" can use to literally trace the path of your information through the phone lines. Depending on the speed of your modem, the truly elite "Hacker" can actually catch up with your information, and read it! For this reason, if you truly want to be secure, only connect to the internet during the daytime hours, when "Hackers" are least likely to be awake.

Always remember that the responsibility for the secure transmission of your information is up to you. In these uncertain times, where "Hackers" lurk in every corner, the best defense is to be informed. By using advanced 40-bit scrambling technology and so forth, you can take steps to ensure that your information will be protected. Remeber, stay informed and avoid UNIX users- only then can you hope to keep your information secure.

Microsoft Dial-Up Networking contributed to this report.

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