Feeling Safe?

[******NOTE******  The information on this page has become somewhat outdated and is best viewed  for historical interest only.  However, security and privacy have continued to be major issues and many solutions are now available to users. An excellent up-to-date discussion of the concepts of Privacy, Security, and "Virtual Private Network" services (VPNs) are offered by IVPN , and by Anonymster.  See PCMagazine's comparison of a number of VPN paid services and their discussion of free VPN's, and Andrey Doichev's analysis of current top free VPN's
.  Encrypted storage of information has become a major concern as well, particularly with the proliferation of cloud-based storage (see discussion by PCMagazine for an analysis and comparisons).  Finally, well-informed and articulate presentations of a number of timely security topics can be found in the Information Security Blog published by Comparitech. ************]

So computers and the Internet have their security problems, what can a user do about it?  As discussed earlier, there are many different things that one can do to protect their computers and information from would be hackers.  But how does one go about getting these protections?  How exactly might someone write an encryption code or put up a firewall, especially with little to no knowledge of computer programming?  This is a common problem for many, but rest assured, there are many solutions out there.  There of course, are different programs that can be bought at stores or downloaded from the Internet.  Besides buying or downloading all these different programs, there is a much easier way for companies or individuals to acquire the programs to protect their security and protect their privacy.  By simply going online and running a search on Internet security, one can find just about everything they want in protection in the form of different organizations and companies that provide just about every service one could possibly want.  There are so many out there, both for companies and for individuals, how does one possibly choose the right one?  It all depends on what type of protections and security someone is looking for, but this section will discuss several of these services just to show what is available to the everyday web surfer.


Still not convinced that just about everything anyone does on the Internet can be tracked, or that almost anyone can get access to a computer at any time?  Well, just click here to get a little example of what anyone with a little know-how can find out about any Internet user.  As easy as it is for someone to find out this information, it is just as easy for someone with the right motivation to read emails, follow everything  someone looks at online, or get any other information that  might be transmit over the Internet (such as credit card numbers).  Anonymizer is just one site that can provide an Internet user with the protections that they are looking for.  The site describes almost perfectly the reason why individual users should protect themselves:

“Whenever you visit a Website unprotected, you not only expose yourself to risk of invasion, you provide information about yourself, that can including your viewing habits, your search terms, your geographical location, your address, phone number, employment details, your credit card numbers, and more.” (www.anonymizer.com/3.0/why.shtml)

This site provides many different services to the individual user (and in the future to businesses).  Some of these services include Anonymizer Surfing, Anonymizer Email, Anonymizer Window Washer, and SSH/SecureCRT. Anonymizer Surfing prevents outside parties from viewing and keeping track of a user’s surfing and from acquiring personal information (such as credit card numbers).  Anonymizer Window Washer is a program that clears basically anything a user wants—from the browser’s cache and history to emptying the recycle bin and temporary folders, all of this happening whenever the user want it to.  SSH/SecureCRT encrypts a user’s Internet interactions with a secure link from the user’s computer and Anonymizer’s, which generates the encryption.  Anonymizer Email is the only free service—some can be used for free on a trial basis but the user must subscribe to Anonymizer.com to receive full use of the services.  This really seems to be a pretty good site for providing privacy and security, as it offers many of the same things as other pages as well as some things above and beyond other sites (such as the Anonymizer Window Washer).

Internet Security Systems

A company more aligned towards providing security for businesses, ISS is another in the line of many companies out there ready to help protect people from the dangers that come with the Internet.  “While there’s no way to achieve 100% protection, it is possible to dramatically reduce risk through comprehensive security management” (www.iss.net/company/profile) (ISS points out that while protecting the user or business through the use of specialized software or through the use of something such as Anonymizer.com or Somebody (a service similar to that of Anonymizer.com) is beneficial, better security can be provided by a service that fits itself to the customers needs.  ISS does exactly this, “through broad-based needs analysis, identification of network resources and access requirements, and data driven implementation and management services.” (www.iss.net/company/profile)  To this end, ISS provides several different services. SAFEsuite Security is the broad name for all that ISS provides to a company.  Included in this is an assessment of the companies current system, analyzing it for weaknesses and helping determine the different services that ISS can provide to best help the company.  Included in this are checks of the network, checks of the system, and checks of any databases.  Another service that is included in the SAFEsuite is RealSecure, an intruder detection system that allows a company to monitor their systems for any improper access or intrusion.  While ISS helps companies analyze their security systems and provide improvements for the systems, it also provides an important consultative service, which provides the companies with help in the design and implementation of security systems, as well as instructional programs (to help teach employees how to use and manage the security system).  ISS is also involved with helping e-business, including helping insure e-businesses.  ISS is one of the more comprehensive Internet security services out there. 

Security Services

Anonymizer.com and Internet Security Systems are just two of the many companies out there that provide individual users with better security and more guarantees of their privacy.  Others include SecurityPortal.com, Idzap, PRIVACYX.COM, Somebody, and Shields UP!, just to name a few.  These all offer similar services, meant to improve the security and privacy of the user.  The important thing to remember with the Internet and security is that each user is different, each company different, as are the hackers who want to find out a credit card number or mess up a company’s system.  Each user needs to determine what risk they are at when using the Internet, and needs to select the right protections or services that will help secure them the best.  There are plenty of options out there to beef up the security on any system, and it is just a matter of choosing what is best for the individual or company.
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This project was produced for PSY 380, Social Psychology of Cyberspace, Spring 2000, at Miami University.  All graphics in these pages are used with permission or under fair use guidelines, are in the public domain, or were created by the authors. Last revised: 6/14/19 
Comments and Questions to R. Sherman