Worried about Internet security and privacy? You should be. Deep security holes--ones that under certain circumstances allow external users to spy on your hard drive, even change its contents--continue to pop up in Web browsers. The risks are small for most users, but that doesn't discount the fears.
One-stop security comes with Cybermedia's Guard Dog Deluxe (about $60), a software tool that provides comprehensive Internet security and privacy protection. Installation is simple, and the program readily works with Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, AOL and leading e-mail applications. Once installed, Guard Dog keeps a watch for viruses, cookies (tiny files copied onto your hard drive by some Web sites), and hostile Java applets and Active X controls written by malevolent programmers with the intent of doing harm to the computers of Web site visitors. Whenever a Web site engages in behavior Guard Dog feels is suspicious, the program barks and warns you--the choice of moving to another site or staying put is yours. For more information, head to http://www.cybermedia.com
To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site at http://members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey/
Looking to do business abroad? Before signing the deal--and before taking on foreign partners--check in with The Internet Corruption Perception Index. This site looks at the shadiness of business dealings in foreign nations as perceived by businesspeople, risk analysts and the general public. Put together annually by Göettingen University in Germany and Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting corruption in international trade, the site ranks nations from least to most corrupt. The most honest businesspeople? Head to Scandinavia: Denmark, Finland and Sweden are the top spots. Nigeria holds the bottom rung, just below Bolivia, Colombia and Russia. The United States shows up in 16th place, a few notches better than Japan, which ranked 21st out of 52 countries. Get the complete survey at http://www.gwdg.de/~uwvw/rank-97.htm
Gotta Hand It To You
One of the smallest handheld computers--at 3.2 by 4.7 by .7 inches--is also the biggest seller. 3Com's PalmPilot, which boasts e-mail connectivity as well as built-in software for keeping an address book, a to-do list and other staples of an organized entrepreneur, claims more than 50 percent of the hand-held computing market.
The huge sales have prompted the creation of numerous Web sites aimed at PalmPilot users. Among the best are PilotGear (http://www.pilotgear.com), which sells accessories (such as custom cases and a fancy stylus) and Ray's PalmPilot Software Archive (http://www.palmpilotfiles.com), featuring hundreds of downloadable software add-ons. Everything from games to useful tools can be found in the archives. For more information on the PalmPilot, visit 3Com's site: http://www.3com.com/palm
Netscape's long-held dominance of the Web browser market is beginning to fade, as Microsoft's "give it away and they'll use it" strategy continues to lure users to the free Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE). Zona Research, an Internet market research firm in Redwood City, California, pegs MSIE's market share at upwards of 36 percent--and growing fast, although the recent U.S. Justice Department scrutiny of Microsoft could slow MSIE's move to dominance. In the meantime, Netscape Navigator's share has tumbled from 87 percent to 62 percent in just 18 months--and many Web experts expect Microsoft to win the majority of users before 1998 ends.
Dump The Junk
Can't get off an e-mail mailing list? Struggling to cancel an online service that never answers its phone? Head to Cancel It!--http://www.cancel-it.com--a Web-based tool for canceling any online service or product. A universal cancellation form available at the site is a fast way to get out from under stacks of e-mail spam cluttering your inbox. This site is no magic bullet for ending Net abuses, but it's often effective--and it's free.
Zona Research, (650) 568-5700, http://www.zonaresearch.com