Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

This is my second post on protecting your computer while you are on the internet. I will assume you have good virus protection software on your computer. If not, go ASAP to Norton's Antivirus or McAfee's, or PC-cillin from Trend Micro and protect yourself.

I also assume you have a good firewall which will let you know if anything is trying to get into your computer, or out. If not, get the free version of Zone Alarm from Zone Labs. They have a paid version which you will probably not need.

So why do you want to know if something from your computer is trying to get out, to "reach and touch someone"? Your browser does that, so does your virus protection software when it gets updates, and so do other non-malicious programs.

But there might be monsters lurking in your computer that are reaching out to give someone private information about you. This includes spyware (see yesterday's post) and even worse programs that could be trying to send confidential information from your computer to folks who would like to steal your credit cared numbers, bank account information, or your identity.

With Zone Alarm running, you will know when programs are trying to get in or out. You can mark known and trusted programs (like Internet Explorer) so they can reach out without having to get your approval each time. My web publishing software is another program I have given "reach out" approval.

One day Zone Alarm told me an unknown program wanted to access the internet. It gave me the file name and the numerical address the program was trying to reach. I did not recognize the file name, and how do you look up an address like ( This address happens to be the good folks at Zone Labs.)

That is where ARIN comes in. You can do a "whois" search based on the numeric IP.

Using ARIN's search, I tracked down the site my computer was trying to contact. It was a company that collects information from your computer and sells it to advertisers. (I no longer recall whihc one.) Without Zone Alarm, I would not have even known my computer was trying to send out information. I told Zone Alarm to block this program from accessing the internet.

Later I found Ad-Aware which found this little bundle of Spyware code and deleted it from my computer.

Any time Zone Alarm give you the numeric IP address one of your programs is trying to reach, you can now use ARIN to find out who it is. Usually it is some legitimate program doing its normal thing. But if it isn't, and it wants to go some place on the internet that you don't want your computer to go, tell Zone Alarm to "Just Say No," Then use Ad-Aware or Spybot (see yesterday's article) to get rid of the program.

Safe Computing!


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