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Online Security Recommendations

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by Barry, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Barry

    Barry Platinum Level Sponsor

    I thought it might be useful to put all this general information in one pile for those who are interested. Remember that this is simply my opinion; like free software, it may not be worth anything and you need to do the research and make your own decisions. If you have questions, I will try to address them.

    A. Keep your system up-to-date.

    This is especially critical if you are running Windows and / or Office; most M$ updates are to address known security issues. For most people with legal copies of Windows / Office, the automatic update system (M$ Update) is a good idea. Apple and Linux users have less to worry about, but staying up-to-date is still a good idea.​

    B. Don’t run Windows as an administrator.

    The default setting for all consumer versions of Windows through XP is for the user to have administrative privileges which creates enormous security risks. M$ has finally seen the light and changed this in Vista.​

    C. Consider switching to an Apple or Linux based system.

    The bad guys know that M$ runs on 90+% of the worlds workstations and focus their efforts accordingly. In addition, the Apple and Linux operating systems are inherently much more difficult to attack than M$ systems.​

    D. Use a router for cable or DSL connections.

    A router significantly improves on-line security by assigning your computer(s) an IP address which is not readily visible from the WAN side (via Network Address Translation or NAT). In addition, most newer routers offer stateful packet inspection (SPI) which will pass all outgoing packets but will only allow incoming packets if they are part of an ESTABLISHED connection, reducing the chance that hackers cannot start unsolicited connections with the protected machine. SPI provides increased protection against unsolicited INBOUND data packets, but it does not control OUTBOUND data and does not eliminate the need for a firewall; if your computer becomes infected by a trojan, keystroke logger, etc. and you do not have a firewall that prevents unauthorized OUTBOUND communication, your private information can be gone in an instant.

    The other advantage of a router is that it lets you share a high speed internet connection between multiple computers as well as facilitating file and hardware sharing.

    E. For Windows systems:

    1. Do not use Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) for routine browsing. IE7 still has a few glitches, but it is much more secure than IE6. IE7 still uses ActiveX controls, so an even better solution is to use Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org/download.html) or Opera (http://www.opera.com/download/). The only thing I use IE for is to get updates from M$ (no choice) or the occasional poorly written website that won’t work with anything except IE.

    2. Use ONE anti-virus (AV) software package. I currently prefer Kaspersky, but Norton AV has always done a good job for me of preventing infection and the 2007 version is much better than previous versions with regard to resource requirements and ease of use. NOD32 is another good AV package. IMO, McAfee is a bad way to mess up a perfectly good computer (YMMV).

    There are some free AV packages that are reasonably well respected including:​

    Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic (http://www.free-av.com/)

    avast! 4 Home Edition (http://www.avast.com/i_kat_207.php)

    AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (http://free.grisoft.com/doc/21/lng/us/tpl/v5/)

    I have not used any of these free AV packages, so think about it and make your own decision.

    3. Use ONE firewall software package. As noted in "D" above, you should use a software firewall that prevents malware from transmitting data if you are infected with a trojan, keystroke logger, etc. I recommend the free version of ZoneAlarm (http://www.zonelabs.com/store/conte...ily/trial_zaFamily.jsp?lid=home_freedownloads) which does a very good job and is easy to use.

    4. Use several or all of the following malware detection and removal packages.​

    SpywareGuard 2.2 (http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/downloads.html) is free and highly recommended by many security experts whom I respect. It provides real-time protection against some malware by checking files before they are opened and is a good addition to SpywareBlaster's protection method. SpywareGuard also provides download protection (IE only) in real-time. It runs all the time and is started automatically when you turn on your computer. The reason for less frequent updates with SpywareGuard is that much of its detection abilities are heuristic in nature and do not depend on “signature” updates.​

    SpywareBlaster 3.5.1 (http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/downloads.html) is free and compliments SpywareGuard by helping to prevent the installation of ActiveX based (IE only) spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other malware. You run this blocker once to set up the protection and run it at least weekly to get updates.

    Ad-Aware™ SE Personal (http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad-aware_se_personal.php) is free software that scans for and will optionally remove some malware.​

    Spybot - Search & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/spybotsd/index.html) is free software that scans for and will optionally remove some malware. ​

    Microsoft Windows Defender (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/...E7-DA2B-4A6A-AFA4-F7F14E605A0D&displaylang=en) is free software that scans for and will optionally remove some malware. It includes real-time protection options in addition to some “show me” tools. I found the “real-time” mode to be a nuisance and only use it for scanning / removal of malware. Note that M$ requires validation of your Windows OS before you can download this product.

    a² Free (A-squared Free) (http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/free/) is, as the name implies, free software. It scans for and removes some trojans, dialers and other spyware. ​

    AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5 (previously Ewido) (http://www.ewido.net/en/download/) is semi-free software that scans for and removes some trojans, dialers and other spyware. ​

    SUPER AntiSpyware (http://www.superantispyware.com/) is a relatively new free software package that has received a lot of favorable response from online security gurus. It scans for and removes some spyware, adware, malware, trojans, dialers, worms, keystroke loggers, etc.​

    M$ Baseline Security Analyzer 2.0.1 (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/mbsa2/default.mspx)
    is free software that is aimed at the business world, but works just fine for stand-alone computers. It scans your system for security issues and reports the results as well as specific recommendations for corrective action. I was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and effectiveness. Try it for yourself; you may be very surprised by what you see. Again, M$ requires validation of your Windows OS before you can download this product.​

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