NSF security advice hits home

National Science Foundation employees received expert advice on securing

their home computers at the agency's first Computer Security Awareness Day.

The program Monday offered advice on how to use firewalls and protect

home computers from intrusion as well as the best ways to protect children

from sexual predators on the Internet.

In the past, home computers have not been the source or target of Internet

attacks because of the limited amount of time home computers were connected

to the Internet, said Stefan Fedyschyn, a computer scientist at the FBI's

National Infrastructure Protection Center, speaking to more than 60 people

at NSF's Ballston, Va., headquarters.

"With cable modems, [Digital Subscriber Line services] and other always-on

Internet services, we will see an upsurge in home sources of computer attack,"

Fedyschyn said.

Although Fedyschyn did not specifically address computer security issues

at NSF, personal computer security is important to NSF's employees — particularly

as more workers telecommute and gain remote access to their work at the

agency, said Dara Murray, director of the security programs staff in NSF's

Division of Information Systems.

The government can adopt security measures that many companies use for

remote access, such as virtual private networks and one-time security codes,

Fedyschyn said.

"People at home also have to ensure they are safeguarding the company's

data at home," he said.

Based on the success of Computer Security Awareness Day, Murray said

NSF plans to create a series of brown-bag lunches on facilities, personnel

and computer security in 2001. Physical and personnel security will take

priority early in the year as NSF moves some of its staff into expanded

office space, she said.

Future information security programs will be open to other government

agencies, Murray said.

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