Dan Appleman - How does a teenager differ from a software developer (when it comes to security?)

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Dan Appleman is a software developer. But he wrote a security book for teenagers. So, we thought it'd be interesting to ask him to compare the security needs of both.

We're talking, by the way, of a pre-Windows XP Service Pack 2 world (when it comes to getting infected by turning on a new machine). XPSP2's firewall will protect you from the virus threats we discuss.

If you don't have XPSP2, it took us a few minutes to get infected with the Blaster virus by hooking a new, unpatched machine, up to the Internet. So, remember to set up a firewall first, before turning on a new machine. (We use a wireless access point, which protects your machines enough due to its NAT capabilities).

We know you're sick of hearing it, but please visit www.microsoft.com/protect and follow the instructions there to protect your machines.

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    The Discussion

    • User profile image
      Manip
      You forgot the [shameless plug] tag.

      I think the biggest problem is adults in full time work that can afford a modern computer and a high speed internet connection (24~40).
       
      No offence, I'm sure it is a very good book but I think the only reasoning for writing it is to plug an area of the market that is otherwise unplugged (under 20's).

      Writer: "hmm, I want to write a book about computer security for normal people"
      Editor: "You and 500 other writers"
      Writer: "hmm"
      Editor: "You could target a sub-group..? 50+?"
      Writer: "Nope, they don't work computers... young adults, 20 or younger, target it at teens!"
      Editor: "I'm liking it.. write me a demo chapter.."
    • User profile image
      ryanlowe
      "We're talking, by the way, of a pre-Windows XP Service Pack 2 world (when it comes to getting infected by turning on a new machine). XPSP2's firewall will protect you from the virus threats we discuss."

      Strictly speaking, the topic of this video is worms and not viruses:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_worm

      A firewall will protect you from being attacked and infected by a worm.  Viruses usually spread from files, require user intervention to execute them (or Outlook to automatically open emails/attachments for you like it used to), and cannot be stopped by firewalls.

      Worms spread autonomously over a network, are self-replicating and do not require user intervention.  Firewalls can stop worms from spreading by blocking traffic on vulnerable ports.

      "...infected with the Blaster virus..."

      Blaster is a worm, not a virus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaster_worm

      You'll notice that Dan uses the general terms "infection/infected" and not virus/worm.

      The irony that Dan is trying to teach people about security is not lost here. Smiley  Great videos though.
    • User profile image
      scobleizer
      My bad. You'd think I'd get those two right.
    • User profile image
      Dan Appleman
      Is the book plugging a hole in the market? Of course it is - though "filling a real need" might be a less cynical view. As for differentiating viruses and worms - I'm very well aware of the difference. In fact, I write about the difference in the book immediately before explaining that it doesn't matter. From the perspective of a home users, viruses, worms and trojans all fall into the class of "bad things that a good antivirus program should clean or remove." Spyware and Adware fall into the class of "bad things that you may need a spyware/adware tool to remove because many antivirus programs won't catch them." Dan
    • User profile image
      lars
      If I recall correctly not even turning on the Windows firewall will fully protect you while downloading the patches to a new Windows XP installation that is connected directly to the Internet. You need to turn of DCOM too in order to protect you against problems with the RPC vulnerability attacks while getting the first updates. Or better yet, get a good stand alone firewall and put between your machine and the net. It will let you sleep better at night. Just a tip (I like tips Smiley
      Another thing to remember when talking about going to college is that it's very hostile environment. Lots of students with a high degree of knowledge and lots of free time. They just love to own your box.


    • User profile image
      Manip
      The biggest problem at college is sniffing.. I mean a high degree of unencrypted trafic, come on!
    • User profile image
      ryanlowe
      "As for differentiating viruses and worms - I'm very well aware of the difference."

      I didn't mean to imply that you didn't know the difference, just that it was hard to tell from that clip whether you were talking about "viruses" or "worms" ... so it was an easy mistake for Scoble to make.  Smiley

      Yep, "anti-virus" programs remove worms as well.  The term "virus" has gone through somewhat of a loosening in that respect, since people aren't aware of the technical details and think infection=virus.

      Even thought they are both removed by anti-virus software, effective defense against infection from viruses and worms differs ... like how a firewall won't protect you against email viruses.  A misunderstanding like that could give people that don't know the technical details of viruses/worms a false sense of security.

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