Tag Archives: windows-security

The Best Antivirus Security Software

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During live calls recently, one person asked my opinion on the best anti-virus program to use. I always defer this question to my assistant, Kat. She is a five-year Microsoft MVP in Consumer Security.

Kat said that if you are looking for a good, free anti-virus program, you want to choose either Avast or Avira (which also works on Linux!). Another excellent free option is Microsoft Security Essentials.

If you are willing to pay for your security, your best option is the Eset Security Suite. Several of the others as quite good, as well. It mostly boils down to personal preference, but Kat says she has never once been steered wrong (or been unhappy) with Eset.

Our new 100 Windows Security Tips eBook (which Kat helped write) is available right now. It is filled with some excellent tips, tricks and advice to keep your computer safe. You’ll also find several special deals and discounts on popular security software.

If you want some further security recommendations, you can visit her blog post about the subject.

What security software do you use?

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Top 100 Windows PC Security Tips

There are more threats to the security of your computer than I can begin to count. New types of attacks are released on more than a daily basis… you have to be vigilant. You already know to use strong passwords. You also know to be sure and have a good anti-virus program and firewall installed. However, there are many other easy things you can do to help make sure your PC is safe. This is why I have come up with my Top 100 Windows PC Security Tips eBook.

You are free to set your own price for this Gnome Tome, with a suggested minimum of five dollars. Once you have downloaded the .PDF file, you will learn how to fully protect your computer from hackers, viruses, phishing attempts, trojans, worms and much more. Many of these little gems are likely things you didn’t already know how to do… or even that they existed. Much of the information deals with things already in place on your operating system – you just have to know how to use them.

Educate your family about the basics of malware and how to avoid becoming infected — and know where your kids go online.

The above tip may seem to be a no-brainer. You would be surprised to learn how many people simply do not take the time to educate their children and teenagers… or how many teens neglect to educate their parents. The 100 tips and tricks cover everything you need to know – from education to prevention to recovery.

On the last page, you will find several links to discounted security products that we have recommended in the past. We are grateful to those partners for continuing to offer these special prices to our community.

Education is the key to everything – including protection yourself and your information.

Windows 7 Security

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I took several live calls earlier tonight to talk to people in the community about Windows 7. I wanted to get their honest reactions – find out what they love and hate. One of the calls was with my assistant, Kat. She’s been a Microsoft MVP in the area of Windows Security for over four years now, and has been considered an Expert in the malware removal community for about seven years. We talked a bit about the security side of Windows 7, and her take on the new operating system in general.

Kat and her fiancee, Mike, have been using Windows 7 for quite awhile. Being an MVP, she gets to help beta test versions sooner than many “normal” users would get to. From the very start, she’s been excited and happy about this new version of Windows. Kat feels it’s much more secure out of the box, even without added protection software. However, she reminds us all that even expert users need to use security programs, such as an anti-virus and firewall. Many of the old security bugs found in earlier versions of Windows have been addressed, and Microsoft is much closer to making a completely secure operating system than they ever have been.

A few of the chatters in our live channel asked her about Microsoft Security Essentials. Kat praised it highly. It has good detection rates, is light on resources, and just plain works. She’s still hesitant to say it’s the “best” there is, and I’d have to agree with that. However, it IS very good, and something she recommends to people.

We talked a little about different features and functions found within Windows 7. I have to ask… what’s YOUR favorite features, and why? What do you love about Win 7? Is there even anything you don’t love? I sure haven’t found any on my end.

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Is Microsoft Windows Security a Myth?

Geek!This is Sushruta’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Any Linux geek would tell you Linux thrashes Windows in more ways than one. But does it? And why? What makes a system better than another? At this stage, are they even different at all?

If there were no Windows vs. Linux battles, the geek life would have been notably duller. Technology forums would inevitably get boring, and life would generally never be the same. The most contentious issue, of course, is security — Windows is notorious for not having much in that department. However, Vista is loaded with a bunch of new security measures, and claims to be able to thwart malicious software better.

What makes an operating system more secure? The way it’s built, of course. And that is the question we’re asking. But first, some myth-busting.

The biggest security breaches occur when malware is allowed to run with on your system with elevated privileges — which means that it has access to critical programs and data that only your system’s kernel should have. Once it’s reached that level, your PC becomes its humble servant, and can be brought down at the slightest whim. Who gives this malware its privileges? Well, you do.

With Windows XP, the person who installs the operating system becomes the Administrator, so if you’re the only one using your PC, you’ve got the privileges to wreak all sorts of havoc, should you choose to. Consequently, any application you install and run is also accorded the same royal treatment, no questions asked. Now add to that the fact that Windows’ system services run under a user account called SYSTEM (you can check this out in the Task Manager)—the most powerful account on your system, with access to everything critical—and that the first processes that malicious programs hijack are system services. You’ll be drawing pretty accurate conclusions by now…

Vista, thankfully, changes this. The user who installs Vista is still part of the Administrators group, but even this administrator runs with regular, limited privileges. When administrative tasks—including installing new programs—need performing, User Account Control (UAC) kicks in, telling you that you need to give the task a go-ahead before it, well, goes ahead. If you read the UAC prompt and don’t know the program it’s warning you about, you can prevent it from running. But what if you’ve blindly allowed the task to continue ?

Services in Linux run as separate users, with access only to files that they own; more often than not, they don’t even have the rights to use the terminal, so they can’t run commands or start other services. This is where the multi-user approach comes handy again—since users are isolated from each other, services can’t access the data used by other services. The Apache server, for instance, runs as a user called www-data, which only has access to the Web pages it serves. If a hacker exploits an Apache vulnerability to get into the www-data user account, he can’t really do much to the other services, because www-data doesn’t own those files. He can, however, mess with Web pages, so while this isn’t a doomsday scenario, it’s certainly not ideal.

What is the scope of the damage it can do? Again, with both Linux and Vista, damage caused by malware is restricted to the service it exploits, and the files that the service can access. What happens when the malware goes about its dirty deed? With Vista, if a critical service—like the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service—is compromised, all manners of chaos may ensue. Every application under Windows needs to use RPC, so you’re sunk without it. With Linux, services aren’t as tightly integrated with the OS, so while your Linux PC can be crippled—some applications won’t run, you may not have network access and so on—the kernel is still safe, which means that with a little root wizardry, it can be brought back to life again.

Bottom line: for daily desktop use, both systems are equally secure — but if things do go wrong, they go more wrong with Windows.

Are there any Free Web-Based Virus Scanners?

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What is more stupid… running your face alongside a cheese grater, or running Limewire? I argue that it’s far healthier to run your face on the cheese grater. What can you do if you don’t run an anti-virus on your desktop? Or what if you download something but want to be 100% sure it’s not a malicious file before you install or run it? Is there any other way to protect yourself?

P2P programs are a breeding ground for malware of all types. That’s why I always recommend you stay away from programs like that, not counting the fact that much of what you would download is illegal. I’m just talking about the viruses, trojans, rootkits and spyware that can and will infest your machine.

Anyway, if you come across a file that you’re just not sure of, you may run it through your desktop client. We all know that desktop solutions can have false positives, or totally miss something it really shouldn’t. How can you be sure it’s safe then?

Well, there are a couple of excellent places online where you can test single files. The first of these is VirusTotal. Virustotal is a free service that will run a file through 32 separate anti-virus programs. Afterwards, it will give you a report. The report will contain the results from each AV, the date of the last update of each AV.

There are two blogs found on Lockergnome that you can always count on to keep you up-to-date with the latest information on what Security products are good, what’s in, what’s out and what to stay away from. One is written by Ron’s MVP award area is in Windows Desktop Experience, and Kat’s award is in Consumer Security. Both are well known in their fields, and know what they’re talking about.

If your program reports something as bad that you aren’t sure is… why not take an extra moment to run the file through VirusTotal? What are your thoughts on P2P programs, and even computer security programs?


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Firewall and Computer Security

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – The round table discusses the free Comodo Firewall, and other Security programs for your Windows machine.

Four of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, Wirelesspacket, and last but certainly not least… Datalore.

Kat started this discussion off, based on a comment she received to her blog post with her recommendations for Windows Protection Software. Someone wrote in, claiming that the free Comodo firewall is not as good as what people think. As I pointed out, Comodo IS a very good firewall. It is easy on system resources, and it just plain works.

Regardless of your product choice, always make sure to use a firewall. Keep yourself protected, no matter how good you think you are. A combination of a hardware AND software firewall is best. Always have an Anti-Virus program running, and possibly even an Anti-Spyware one, as well. Layers of protection like this will help keep your computer safe from all the nasties that are out there.

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Windows Antivirus: Vista vs XP

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Tuna wants to know: are you more vulnerable to viruses in Vista than in XP?

Since its Windows anything that’s written for Windows could potentially harm Vista as well as XP; however, Vista does things a little differently than XP in terms of how much access a program has.

Specifically Vista has UAC. In Microsoft’s mind "cancel or allow" is a layer of security, but most other people consider it an annoyance and turn it off.

The bottom line: run anti-virus software. If you don’t then you’re just as risk of infection as someone who is running an unprotected XP machine.

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