BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2007

  

 

BOOT CAMP 478 (29/0/07)

Freeware Top Tens. Part 4, Privacy and Security

 

Your computer is under constant attack from a seemingly relentless deluge of viruses, malware, hackers, phishers and scammers but contrary to alarmist reports in the media and scary adverts it really doesn’t take much time or effort to protect your PC, and thanks to some excellent freeware programs, it needn’t cost you a bean. 

 

However, there is a sting in the tail. A worrying number of supposedly free security programs purport to keep your PC safe or remove infections but a lot of them report ‘false positives’ or deliberately infect your PC to frighten you into paying for often useless software. Many of these programs have names or website addresses that sound or look like those used by legitimate products so great care should be taken when visiting these sites and downloading programs – see this week’s Top Tip.  

 

Don’t forget that you download and use these programs entirely at your own risk and we cannot help with technical queries. If you find these programs useful please show your appreciation by paying the licence fee, or making a donation and this usually entitles you to support and future upgrades.

 

AdAware

Be extremely careful with the spelling, there are countless rip-offs and malicious fakes of this highly successful and very effective malware scanner. It’s not quite perfect but a weekly scan should keep your PC free of the most common nasties and used in conjunction with another scanner, like SpyBot or Defender you will be about as safe as its possible to be.

 

Antivir Personal Edition Classic

This free anti-virus program lacks some of the more advanced features, such as malware protection and email scanning (available on the paid-for Premium edition) but unusually is able to detect and remove Rootkits, but for light Internet users and those with dial-up connections it works just as well as its commercial rivals.

 

 

Avast! Free Home Edition

One of the most sophisticated and powerful of the free ant-virus programs with email and network protection with regular (usually daily) updates of its Signature file. It is very unobtrusive – apart from the annoying American voice – easy to setup and configure with no significant compatibility issues.

 

AVG

Still the best freeware antivirus program and arguably better then some of its well-known commercial rivals. This powerful program is suitable for all PC users, it is frequently updated, highly configurable and checks incoming and outgoing emails for infections.

 

CCleaner

Windows stores all sorts of things that could compromise your privacy, including the address of every website you’ve every visited in a secret and protected file! Crap Cleaner can delete all of these unnecessary history and log files, including the hidden ones. As an added bonus it has a built-in Registry cleaner and it removes temporary files and MRUs from Windows and many third-party applications. 

 

HijackThis

This program is for more advanced users, though it is very simple to use. HijackThis scans your PC for anything that tries to attach itself to your browser, install toolbars, take over your Home Page or use your Internet connection. The trick is telling the legitimate applications from the malware, though experts on numerous websites will be able to help you sort the wheat from the chaff if post your HijackThis ‘log’.

 

 

Spybot Search And Destroy

One of the best known malware cleaners and although the program has been around for a while and looks a bit dated it still does a great job of rooting out and removing a wide range of website-borne infections. Use alongside AdAware or Defender for complete protection.

 

 

Windows Defender

Originally sold as Giant AntiSpyware it was acquired by Microsoft in 2004, rebranded and launched as Microsoft AntiSpyware and it is now known as Windows Defender. It has been extensively updated and is included with Windows Vista, but still available separately for Windows XP. It works well but like its rivals it doesn’t catch everything so run it alongside AdAware or Spybot at least once a week. 

 

 

X-Ray PC

X-Ray PC is a development of HijackThis (see above) and tackles the problem of identifying whether or not the items it identifies in a scan are a threat by consulting an online database. For this reason it is suitable for novices who may be daunted by more advanced programs, though for obvious reasons it takes a more cautious approach so you may have to do a little homework to check the high number of ‘undetermined’ results.

 

Zone Alarm

Windows XP and Vista have built-in firewall that protect against hackers but they only do half the job. ZoneAlarm works in both directions, preventing external connections to your computer and, more importantly, stopping programs and malware on your PC using your Internet connection without permission and possibly sending personal or private information.

 

Next Week – More Freeware and Shareware Top Tens

 

JARGON FILTER

 

MRU

Most Recently Used – logs or lists maintained by some programs detailing the most recently opened files and websites etc.

 

ROOTKIT

A set of tools, used by virus writers, to create a stealthy container or wrapper for concealing malicious software

 

SIGNATURE FILE

Inert samples of computer code used to identify viruses, worms, spyware and Trojans

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

How do you tell if a security program is worth having or just a scam? It’s hard work sifting through the claims and scare stories, and there’s no easy way of telling if a particular program carries a malicious payload or is reporting false positives, until it is too late!

 

However, before you download anything you should visit the SpywareWarrior website. This invaluable resource has an extensive database of known rogue and suspect anti-spyware programs, as well as a list of the legitimate ones, up to date news, forums, useful links and advice.

 

Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at www.rickmaybury.com

 

---end---

© R. Maybury 2007, 2305

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