BOOT CAMP 478 (29/0/07)
Freeware Top Tens. Part 4, Privacy and
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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’.
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
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 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.
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
Next Week – More Freeware and Shareware Top Tens
Recently Used – logs or lists maintained by some programs detailing the most
recently opened files and websites etc.
A set of tools, used by
virus writers, to create a stealthy container or wrapper for concealing malicious
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
© R. Maybury 2007, 2305