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Nederlog

 

16 oktober 2009

 

More about computer security - 2



Like yesterday, this an English Nederlog and it is about security, especially for Windows XP, since that is the OS I (mostly) use. I have written about this before during this month, but in Dutch, so this to some extent a repeat, but it also contains some new interesting references, and what is old is reduced to a good basic security-set.

Also, this continues and (in case you're really interested in security: presupposes) the Nederlog of yesterday:

   1. A good basic set of security utilities - con'd
   2. Interesting information, tutorials and sites about security
- con'd
   3. In conclusion

 1. A good basic set of security utilities - con'd

This continues a good basic set of security utilities, with brief reasons why, and lists four useful free security suites, that have the merit of being much better than McAfee, that came with the contract I have with my provider xs4all (none to me privately as noxs4me@all), who admits that it is bugged, and which is castrated anyway in that it doesn't connect to McAfee support, but to xs4all support, that turns out to be worthless since this formerly excellent firm was sold to KPN (a gigantic Dutch telephone-company, with CEOs with gigantic salaries, and very high telephone-bills for its users).

McAfee's security suite turns out to be a moronic program (or set of programs) that does little and can do very little, and also tells its users very little (except that everything is hunky dory with one's computer, while it isn't) - and since you should not believe me (or anyone else) without empirical evidence or logically valid arguments, here is a link to some empirical evidence, especially for the users of McAfee:

The first dotted link is to a website that says about itself

matousec.com is a project of Different Internet Experience Ltd. It was founded by David Matoušek in March 2006 with a small group of young people, mostly university students, who were interested in the Internet, security and other computer related topics. The group's focus was on security related projects and providing specific services to software vendors.

The group established various business connections with world-class security software vendors and helped them creating the most secure solutions on the market.)

and the second dotted link is a pdf-report on what McAfee can do (very little) and fails to do (a lot).

Also, you may find your own security suite under the first link, for these people investigated and reported a lot.

So... I have removed McAfee from my harddisk, and will now list and briefly comment on programs that may replace it or parts of it, or that simply do what it fails to do or do it better or both.

Before doing so, I should once again refer you to yesterday's Nederlog, and specifically to its section 2, for other programs that I have found to be very useful.

So to continue yesterday's list here are four programs (or suits thereof) all concerned with security, all good as far as I can see, and recommended and used by many on the internet (you should check it out for yourself, if you are interested!) and that all are available in a free version (that I use, for I am anonymous on the net, which includes not making payments by means of the net (*)) and also in a paid version, that in most cases allow you to get direct personal support by phone.

First, there is (a link to its site)

This says about the program

WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. It continues to be one of the most powerful system monitors while staying a single small program.

As a robust SECURITY MONITOR , WinPatrol will alert you to hijackings, malware attacks and critical changes made to your computer without your permission. As a MULTI PURPOSE SUPPORT UTILITY WinPatrol replaces multiple system utilities with its enhanced functionality.

It worked OK with me, though I did not make it go through difficult tests. In any case - unlike McAfee, again - it gives you a lot of information about your computer, which is what I want from a security program: I want to see what is on my disks; what processes are running; what is automatically started up with Windows a.s.o.

Second, there is (a link to its site)

This seems to be a very good firewall, and at least it has that reputation and many users and also many recommendations by securty sites I like. It says about itself

PC Tools Firewall Plus is a powerful free personal firewall for Windows® that protects your computer by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network. By monitoring applications that connect to the network Firewall Plus can stop Trojans, backdoors, keyloggers and other malware from damaging your computer and stealing your private information.

and it has a nifty interface (unlike McAfee) and (also unlike McAfee) shows you a lot about your computer; what it blocked; how to make it block things and so on.

Third, there is (a download link)

I quote from a review of it on the page I supplied the link for:

This utility offers a one-stop-shop for cleaning and maintaining your computer for better overall system performance. The interface is very simple, featuring only a few buttons, which makes it easy to get down to cleaning immediately (in fact, it automatically runs on start-up) and doesn't confuse you with multiple steps.

The Maintain Windows section focuses on four areas of maintenance: spyware removal, Registry cleaning, a privacy sweep, and deletion of junk files. The Diagnose System button provides system optimization tools, detects spyware, defragments your disk, and scans for hijacked Windows settings. In our tests the scan and clean for each of these areas took less than 10 minutes to complete. In many of these scans, it is difficult to tell what exactly is being accomplished by some of the tools, but we were able to test against other trusted apps, which confirmed Advanced SystemCare's efficacy in those areas.

Indeed, the last sentence accords with my experience. This suite comes with a lot of utilities, and the only two complaints I have is that the Maintain and Diagnose options mentioned in the last paragraph of the above quotation don't give much explanations nor many or any options.

Fourth and last, there is (a link to its site)

This seems a lot better than McAfee and it certainly looks better and gives more help. They claim 80 million users, and also offer a paid edition. This seems good, and has many recommendations on the net, and again tells one much more than McAfee does, that basically tells nothing and shows nothing and requires its user to have faith, which I have little of anyway, and not at all in security software that hardly does anything and hardly gives any information.

So... the above and the programs I mentioned yesterday should at least help you to get some good security, and gives me better security than I had with McAfee.

Very probably you don't need all of them, but I have found all of them helpful in some respects, at some point. And all are free, and seem to do what they are supposed to do well, and also do not seem to do anything else, which is at least as important.

2. Interesting information, tutorials and sites about security - con'd

Now for some more information about Windows - and this continues what I wrote yesterday, of which I repeat

since that does give a lot of information about lots of aspects of Windows in its many tutorials.

Next, there is this for Windows XP users (link to the opening of the site)

This is an extensive site, that opens with an Index you should have a look at, which is the start of lots of clear and well written information about Windows XP.

What I have seen and read was well done and helpful, and the only negative point is that the site has on quite a few places "Recommended: Click here to run a FREE system scan", which is to software of a firm - liutilities - I have come to dislike, since it tells you (perhaps) what is wrong (some), and then refuses to do anything about it without payment.

That is not a way of doing or getting busines I like: Trust is earned, not demanded.

Also, since I have bumped quite a few times into this company, and other ones like it, such as CyberDefender, you should know that (1) in each and any case this game was tried out on me it turned out there were other free utilities that could diagnose the problem AND repair it and (2) my own reaction is invariably the same, since no field of enterprise is as full of phoneyness, scams, and con games as is the software enterprise, namely that I immediately dump such firms and remove their software.

And indeed, I am pleased to tell that my present safety-software seems to block access to this company on my computer, which is fine with me.

So... I should repeat another link I provided yesterday, simply because it is highly instructive, and also because it explicitly warns against Malware masquerading as Anti-Spyware:

Finally, having had an elderly geek, here is fine information about Windows by a young geek (in the form of a link to the site which has the information)

This says about itself

TweakGuides.com is devoted to providing you with a range of detailed tweak guides to help you understand and optimize your computer. The place to start is with the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, a free PDF guide for Windows XP and Windows Vista

and indeed that Companion is really well done, and was five years in the making, and almost certainly will tell you a lot about Windows you did not know, even if you've used it for over a decade (like I have).

The Tweaking Companion comes in the form of a pdf-file (one can only get at the above place) and is well worth reading or at least perusing, as it almost certainly will tell you a lot about Windows you didn't know, and that may be useful.

3. In conclusion

It seems to me that the present and yesterday's Nederlog should interest nearly everyone who runs Windows XP, and that these two files contain or link to a lot of useful information and software relating to your and my computer security.

I hope it may be of some use to you, and I can assure you all the software I have mentioned and praised helped me improve the running of my computer (for it really is faster and smoother, and I am finally fairly confident that it does not contain malware or viruses anymore, and almost certain that it contains no known viruses or malware), whereas much of the information I provided links to was new to me, while I found considerable parts helpful.

Also, I am even more confident that what is urgently needed are a new internet restricted to personal and educational computing. for which see my

that also has more information about good programs (some duplicated in Nederlogs of this month), and that what is as urgently needed is regulation and legal bindings of what is happening on the net, for which see

The last link is to a Dutch Nederlog-file I wrote and uploaded October 2 last, and to a section with a title that translates into English as "How your personal privacy is being plundered and pimped" - for it turns out that over the last few years commercial marketeers have secretively gathered personal information of all kinds about more than half a billion people on earth, and more than half of all Dutchmen, which they hope to sell to such other noble commercial enterprises like banks and insurance firms, so that these can exploit you to the limit of your tolerance and bankaccount.

In brief, if you are a Dutch adult who has surfed the net for some time, you probably will be in at least some commercial secret database - with your income, your personal preferences and dislikes, your health (they boast they know the level of cholesterol in your blood), your friends, your birthday, the names and ages of your children, your bank, the amount of your outstanding loans, your political and sports affiliations ... in short: with whatever may eventually be of help, now or in the future, for any commercial salesperson who is willing to buy such secretively gathered personal information about you, to con you as well as they can, while smiling and smiling like a vilain.

"All this information was gathered legally", these thieves of your privacy will confidently instruct their lawyers to tell you, and indeed it was, for so far such things are not forbidden nor legally regulated, as they urgently should, for this is nothing but spying and intruding into your and my personal privacy, for no reason at all, except to squeeze maximal commercial profit out of you and me.


P.S. I am well aware that much of the above starts being interesting to you only after you've been hit by a virus or malware, and that you much rather read about other things than the intricacies of Windows.

Indeed, I agree mostly, but then I have been hit by malware, and it created a lot of problems for me, and I lost a considerable amount of data and money because of it.

This was part of the reason to find out what was summarized above, which turns out to be also at least somewhat interesting if you are interested at all in what makes your computer work (or malfunction).

And anyway there is a reason you should be interested in computer security, proactively also, because (1) if you are hit, you may be hit badly, and where it hurts a lot, and (2) even if you are not hit at all, and have excellent security, then still you are being continuously tracked and traced by all manner of commercial or criminal firms (if you let them, and also if you don't), that gather all manner of private information about you, in order to sell it to others, so that they may exploit you commercially as profitably as they can.

Note

(*) The main reason is that I have been very credibly threatened with murder by Amsterdam drugsdealers, who were - and as far as I can see, still are - protected by the Amsterdam mayor, aldermen and municipal police, and who still florish in Amsterdam. If you read Dutch, the story is in ME in Amsterdam - and if you are inclined to disbelieve me, as well you may, you should consider that the Amsterdam mayor, aldermen and municipal police all know about me and my complaints, which are criminal slander if false, and refuse to answer even my letters and mail, and when it was happening, refused to answer the letters of lawyers, demanding protection.

Maarten Maartensz

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