Downloadable files like screensavers, toolbars and file sharing programs can be-or may be bundled with — adware, spyware, viruses and other malicious computer code. Sometimes, the malware is added without your knowledge. Sometimes, you click “yes” or “I agree” without reading the fine print. The end result is often the same – a PC that slows to a crawl, a hidden password sniffer that is used to steal your identity, or valuable personal files destroyed or scrambled.
We download and install each file we find – we even open zip files. We then scan our test computer to see what changes have been made. If a program is determined to be a virus, Trojan, or certain other types of malware, that program will earn a red rating.
How Site Ratings Are Determined
Each day, thousands of times a day, McAfee visits Websites and tests them for a comprehensive set of security threats. From annoying pop-ups to back door Trojans that can steal your identity, we find the danger zones before you stumble on them. Here’s what our test computers look for.
|17-year-old bug in Windows will be patched by Microsoft in its latest security update.The February update for Windows will close the loophole that dates from the time of the DOS operating system.
First appearing in Windows NT 3.1, the vulnerability has been carried over into almost every version of Windows that has appeared since.
The monthly security update will also tackle a further 25 holes in Windows, five of which are rated as “critical”.
The ancient bug was discovered by Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy in January 2010 and involves a utility that allows newer versions of Windows to run very old programs.
Mr Ormandy has found a way to exploit this utility in Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and 2008 as well as Windows Vista and Windows 7.
The patch for this vulnerability will appear in the February security update. Five of the vulnerabilities being patched at the same time allow attackers to effectively hijack a Windows PC and run their own programs on it.
As well as fixing holes in many versions of Windows, the update also tackles bugs in Office XP, Office 2003 and Office 2004 for Apple Macintosh machines.
The bumper update is not the largest that Microsoft has ever released. The security update for October 2009 tackled a total of 34 vulnerabilities. Eight of those updates were rated as critical – the highest level.
In January 2010, Microsoft released an “out of band” patch for a serious vulnerability in Internet Explorer that was being exploited online. The vulnerability was also thought to be the one used to attack Google in China.
Following the attack on Google, many other cyber criminals started seeking ways to exploit the loophole.
Also this week, a security researcher has reported the discovery of a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that allows attackers to view the files held on a victim’s machine.
Microsoft has issued a security bulletin about the problem and aims to tackle it at a future date. At the moment there is no evidence that this latest find is being actively exploited online.
QWhat do I really need to protect my PC?
Let me start with what you don’t need. You don’t need or want any of the bloated, expensiveIntrusive packages on the market.
Not so long ago, software to companies were content
Produce and peddle programs that solved specific problems
Antivirus, firewalls or antispyware programs, for example. But in the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of “anti” programs. Almost every old firewall program is now bundled with
Antivirus; the old antivirus stalwarts now include antispyware antirootkit, firewall protection andHalitosis prevention
. While the manufacturers claim they’re expanding their reach to help protect
More people from more bad stuff, a somewhat less benign interpretation would lead some folks
To believe that they’re bloating their products so they can charge more
What they want, you don’t need. The Norton’s, MacAfee’s and TrendMicros of the world have
Created monsters. These packages’ Incessant demands for you to pay in order to stay up to date
Are more annoying than a cloying Hawker. Get rid of them.
A good case in point: Zone- Alarm used to make a very good Firewall. Back in the early days
Of Windows XP, I even recommended Zone Alarm, . But I don’t any more. Zone Alarm has turned into a behemoth that causes all sorts of Problems
– firewall, yes, but also Antivirus and antispyware and Identity theft protection (whatever that is). I use AVG, a free antivirus Program; Microsoft’s free Windows Defender; and the Windows Firewall. I run a rootkit Scan on my Windows XP machines From time to time. Vista Users are much, much less likely to be zombified by a rootkit. Antivirus, Windows Defender, the Windows Firewall and hardware Firewall – the kind you find in any ADSL router here you will have all the protection you need and it won’t cost a buck
My favorite antivirus program for many years has been AVG. You can download a copy
That’s free for personal use at http://www.free.avg.com. Make sure you click through to get the free
Version. In my experience, there’s No need to spend any money at All for decent antivirus protection. AVG has come under a lot of fire for sticking revenue-generating Junk in its free product, although they’ve backed off a bit in recent weeks, adding an option to the installer that lets you Bypass their webpage scanner. If you don’t want to deal With AVG’s junky ways, try
NOD-32 (www.nod32.com) or (www.avast.com), both of which are fully capable, nod-32 the best out cost about a buck a week.
Every Windows XP user At least, everybody with a genuine Copy of Windows – should Download, install and use Microsoft’s Free spyware/junkware program Called Windows Defender. Vista users needn’t bother as Windows Defender comes installed.
To download Windows Defender, go to tinyurl.com/5q36co and follow the instructions.
Windows Defender actively Blocks spyware and other kinds of junk. It also has a little-known
Ability to let you control which Programs run whenever Windows Starts. To clamp down on
Obnoxious auto-running programs, Click Start, All Programs, Windows Defender. Then at the
Top click Tools, Software Explorer. In the Software Explorer Window (see the screen shot
On this page) you can selectively disable programs that run at startup. For detecting and removing Rootkits – a task that every Windows XP undertake At least once a week
– You need an industrial-strength antirootkit Program. F-secure backlight did the best job