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Technology Today Ė April 2011
by Robert Sanborn

Do You Know Where Your Domain Is ?

As the world wide web grows by leaps and bounds, one of the growth engines are the new sites that pop up all the time.  Each of those sites begins with a domain name and while the process of creating your own website gets easier all the time, it still begins with the domain name.  And yes, you actually donít need a domain name by piggybacking on someone elseís website or domain which is what most bloggers do. WordPress, Google, and TypePad are three that quickly come to mind. But if you want to create your own site, and have your own really unique presence, then you need a domain. Getting a domain is easy, maybe too easy and that is where we get into trouble. It seems like there are thousands of companies out that that will let you register domains.  In fact, where I register my domains is through an old computer buddy of ours who acts as a reseller for a bigger company.  So even though he is just a one man company, when you call tech support, you get the main company and they take care of you just as well.  My point, there are tons of places to do it. And you donít need to be paying a lot to register or renew your domain.  Go Daddy, the king of domain registry, will charge you less than $10 to register or renew a domain. If you pay much more than that per year, you are getting taken.  I saw a company last year that was charging $60 per year to renew a .com domain name. Now, if you pick an odd country domain such as .cc, .co, .jp, and many of the others out there, you will pay quite a bit more but for the usual ones found here in the states; .com, .us, .org, or .net, the cost should never be much more than $15 per year.

Where the problem comes in is where if you have someone else register your domain, that person is the owner of the domain no matter who you are and how much you kick and scream.  Registering domains is really an easy process and maybe sometimes, it is too easy. But once you register the domain, you then need to deal with where the domain is going to be hosted and then you need to keep track of that domain very closely to make sure that it doesnít expire on you.  What happens for small companies and individuals is that sometimes the person who registers the domain leaves or changes their email address and the next thing you know, you canít get the domain back.  I was asked to help a church get a lost domain that was expiring because the person that registered it disappeared. The company that held the registration was quick enough to take my money to renew the domain but refused to let me control the domain without going through major hoops and you want that to happen to keep unscrupulous people from stealing your domain.

So, if you have someone else managing your domain, make sure that you are in a long term relationship with them or their company and make sure you both know when that domain comes up for renewal.  You can always check the status of your domain with a Who Is service like Network Solutions: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp  Whatever you do, donít let it expire.

Kaspersky Pure Internet Security

Having a good internet security system on your computer is an absolute essential today with all the nasty stuff making the rounds. To my own thinking, if you are not using one of the major software packages and keeping it up to date, you are just asking for trouble.  But even still if you use one of the big three as I call them, you still need to keep the rest of your operating system and browser software up to date.  Too many times I have seen malware strike a computer because the Windows updates were not current or they were using an old browser to surf the internet.  Let me put it another way; if you donít mind spending $100 on your own stupidity, then who am I to argue except that it is often the corrupted computers that help spread the tons of spam email that go around.

One of what I consider the big three is Kaspersky Labs, www.kaspersky.com, founded in 1997, they currently employ over 2,000 people to manage and keep their security products up to date.  Their current flagship product is Kaspersky Pure Internet Security and offers a full range of protection for home personal computers. What is included in the package is real time security that is constantly updated, a two way firewall that monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic, intelligent scanning for quicker scans, anti-phishing and email scans, parental controls, and a feature they call Safe Run which allows you to open suspicious programs or websites safely.

The features that set Pure apart from the others include home network control to manage the security on other PCs on your network and a remote management of Parental Controls.  Other features that set this apart from other security products are the file security features like a file shredder, an encrypted data vault, and a password manager. Also included is a data backup.

As with nearly any other internet security or anti-virus package you need to uninstall the current program you are using before installing a new one.  Installing is pretty straight forward and you donít need to worry about the options as you go because the defaults will protect your system very well. So far I have installed it on two different Windows 7 systems with no problems at all. On one, I uninstalled the Symantec Norton Internet Security and the Kaspersky installed without any problems. Once installed, you can do the immediate update or let it take care of it later; I prefer to get it done immediately.

Open the Kaspersky Pure control program by double clicking the icon in the tray by the clock and in a single glance, you can see that the system is up to date, and your protection is current. It also tells you how many days of protection you have left before you need to renew a subscription.

To start the backup, from the main program, select the backup section and the wizard starts you through the process. It is like many backup programs in that it doesnít back up the entire computer but only what it thinks is important so you need to make sure it includes what you think is important.  From there, getting your backup started is pretty straightforward though it wasnít that easy to create a separate folder for the backup after selecting the drive. When I looked at the storage drive after doing the backup, it created its own nonsensical file name. What was interesting was after the backup completed in a very short time, I was given the error log and nearly all of the files it couldnít back up were Kasperskyís own .dat files but that is a good point because Kaspersky closely monitors their own files to prevent them from being changed. What was strange, it indicated that a lot of files were backed up but in fact, the backup failed.  Reboot, start it again and this time after over 18 hours, it was still puttering along so something just wasnít working. I was storing the backup on a network attached storage device that has a gigabit connection but something is really bogging it down so will have to try a USB drive next.  As I mentioned earlier, I really prefer a standalone backup program like the EaseUS Todo backup (www.easeus.com) so that if you change security programs in the future, you wonít have to worry about your backup.

Go to the Additional Tools and you will find several useful applications there. One is to Tune up your browser settings and it checks a host of settings. Ran it on my copy of Internet Explorer 9 and it works very well and in fact, if it makes a change that doesnít work right, there is a roll back option to restore the setting the way they were. Create Rescue Disk is another option you should take advantage of. Create the disc and if your computer runs into difficulties, you can use this disc to scan your computer without having to start Windows.  In fact, I have used the rescue disc on other computers to fix some of their problems.  You can also delete your activities history and delete unused data though I am not sure that the deletes are secure.  There is a secure shredder that you choose files or folders and can determine what level of secure shredding to be done.  If you are truly worried about deleting files securely you should also look into an empty space deleting tool as well.

Other features on the main Kaspersky page include a Password Manager and Data Encryption.  I donít recommend using the Password Manager mostly because if you decide to change internet security packages, you might lose this feature and will need to start it over again. I use a separate program eWallet from Ilium Software, http://www.iliumsoft.com, for controlling passwords, but from what I heard from Kaspersky, you can store your passwords on a USB drive and be able to use it on a computer that doesnít have Pure installed so it becomes very portable. The Data Encryption feature is interesting in that you create a ďcontainerĒ for encrypted items that becomes mapped as a drive letter to your computer for easy access.

I mentioned Safe Run earlier; what Kaspersky does is to create a new right click option when you open programs or the Internet Explorer called Safe Run. Start Internet Explorer with Safe Run and it creates a noticeable green border around your internet explorer window. This is almost like running IE within a sand box application so that if you hit a website that has malicious software in it, it will prevent that from infecting your computer.  If you are worried about applications, you can run them there as well.

If you are really worried about security using your computer, whenever you go to a website that you need to enter a password you can use the Virtual Keyboard to do that and keep any keylogger or spying software from knowing what you are typing. Probably best if you are using a notebook in a wireless environment.

I like the features that come with Kaspersky Pure Total Security, and at $90 or so for three computers, it looks to have all the features you need to keep your computer safe from malware that is getting more and more destructive.  Traveling with this program on my notebook is going to make me feel a whole lot more secure especially when connecting through unknown networks.  Highly recommended.

Robert Sanborn
robert@pcll.com

 

 

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