Infrastructure // Networking
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Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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The Explorer: Secure Your PC Online, Part Four

Fred ties up some loose ends from the previous installments, and discusses some new, cool and free security tools.

Hacker Trackers, And Other Tools
Many readers have asked how to track down the owner of an IP address once their personal firewall reports that it's blocking probes from a particular address: SmartWhoIs offers several very handy searches, including "reverse DNS" where you can type in an IP address to determine what site it's associated with, as well as the standard DNS lookup that can show you who owns a site, where they live, what their phone numbers are, and so on. If one of these tools doesn't bring you to the site of the person trying to hack you, it will at least bring you to an ISP they're using.

Reader Sam Bass told me about another useful security site:
AnalogX. This site features a small download you can use to close a potential security hole in your system's DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) settings. Check it out!

Steve Gibson (mentioned above) has been busy on other fronts, too: He recently released "OptOut," a tiny freeware app that can remove all traces of phone-home "adware" from your system; it even cleans the Registry. It's worth grabbing a copy -- and reading his full explanation of the whole "spyware" and "adware" mess at

You'll find tons of security information and tools at The A.R.G.O.N.

You can surf sites anonymously by using the tools at sites such as or Rewebber; these anonymizers work well, although they're slow and can alter the appearance and layout of target pages.

The folks at IDcide have an interesting free tool I'm just starting to test: It's also called "IDcide," which is a double pun on "I Decide" and "ID-cide" (i.e. killing your ID). Its full name is "The IDcide Privacy Companion," and it enables you to:

"See when you are being watched on the Net

Find out who is following you, whether it is the site you are visiting or "invisible" third parties such as advertising agencies and profiling companies (referred to as Tracking Networks). Discover when you are being followed, and where else you have been followed on the Net.

Choose your level of privacy protection

The IDcide Privacy Companion lets YOU decide how much personal information, if any, you want to give away."

There are many more tools -- and in fact, that's what the rest of this discussion is about. What do you use to provide a firewall, to cloak your actions, to ensure your security? What tools have you found useful? Just as importantly, which tools are a waste of time and money? Join in the discussion!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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