In my previous post, How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #1, I said that the best security measures are useless if you invite attackers into your PCs and networks. Several people have taken me to task on that statement, saying that they always practice safe surfing, never click on links in emails, etc., etc. I listened intently and acknowledged that they’re doing the right things, mostly. But when I asked what type of router they were using, I drew a few blank stares.
The on-by-default Windows firewall notwithstanding, anyone who has a PC plugged directly into their DSL or cable modem is at serious risk of having their PC hijacked and their personal information stolen. A PC connected directly to the Internet is visible to anyone who cares to look for it, a sugar-coated invitation to criminal hackers and spammers. An inexpensive router using network address translation (NAT) serves as an excellent hardware firewall, making your computer virtually invisible. And what they can’t see, they can’t get. With that in mind, here is Maxim#2:
A first, important step in securing your PC is to install and configure a NAT router.