Tag Archives: free

Easily Recover Deleted Photos And More – Open Source TestDisk & PhotoRec

Summary: When it’s time to recover deleted files from an SD Card, Hard Drive, Flash Drive, etc., this powerful portable recovery application, (despite its command line type interface), makes deleted file recovery just about as simple as it gets.

In previous reviews, I’ve covered more than a few file recovery tools,  some of which have lived up to the developers’ claims – but, most have not. PhotoRec, part of the bundled package included in TestDisk – despite it’s name – is capable of recovering 390 types of files, according to the developer.

In the following review, I’ll describe how easy it was to recover deleted photos from my camera’s SD Card and, deleted music files from my iPod. As you’ll see, this application is not wizard driven – but, despite that, it’s still very easy to use.

First up was a recovery attempt on a camera.

On launching the application, the connected camera was immediately identified.

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Selecting the drive was a simple matter of cursoring down, and pressing the Enter key.

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In just a few minutes (under 3 minutes), PhotoRec identified and recovered 121* previously deleted photos.

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* Much to my surprise, the application actually recovered 241 previously deleted photos. I’m not complaining.   Smile   All recovered files were saved to the recovery directory (a sub-directory of the directory the application is running from) – as shown below.

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Here’s a recovered shot (August 2012), of my BlackBerry Playbook in its Bluetooth keyboard case. As an aside – Tablets are super duper consumption devices – but, for real work, a physical keyboard is a must for me.

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Next up – music file recovery from my iPod.

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In just a few moments (less than a minute), PhotoRec identified and recovered *105 previously deleted tunes.

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* The application actually recovered 106 previously deleted tunes.

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But, can they be played? You bet!

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Fast facts:

Fix partition table, recover deleted partition.

Recover FAT32 boot sector from its backup.

Rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector.

Fix FAT tables.

Rebuild NTFS boot sector.

Recover NTFS boot sector from its backup.

Fix MFT using MFT mirror.

Locate ext2/ext3/ext4 Backup SuperBlock .

Undelete files from FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2 filesystem.

Copy files from deleted FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2/ext3/ext4 partitions.

System requirements: Windows (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, Windows 7 (x86 & x64), Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, SunOS and MacOS X. (Reviewed on Win 8 x32)

Download at: Cgsecurity.org

You may only need this application a time or two – but, wouldn’t it be nice to have it sitting in your USB toolbox when you do? The answer is – YES.   Smile

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Filed under downloads, File Recovery Software, Freeware, Open Source, Windows

Beat Obama’s Bandits With TrueCrypt Free (Open-Source) Encryption

The so called “War on Terror” has long since lost its luster and should be appropriately reclassified as The War of Terror. The U.S. has been singularly impudent in terrorizing the terrorists but instead, it has managed to terrorize the rest of the world using a system of surveillance schemes that have gone off the board. Chalk one up for Al Qaeda – the only winners in this debacle.

In the meantime, Americans continue to live in fear – trading away freedoms for security in a war that is simple unwinnable. Obama, despite his assurances that he would “fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties” has been a principle mover in this assault on democracy.

And, the master of the reversal has more -

Obama, in a 2008 election sound bite, drew a sharp contrast with the Bush administration which he proclaimed, offered Americans “a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.” And for good measure – for stooping “to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” It’s a surreal world we live in, is it not?

But why be satisfied with my ramblings? Here’s the video.

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As America continues its slide into Fascism (eagerly joined in the venture by Canada, Australia, the U.K. and countless other self-advertised “democracies”), the justified expectation held by these governments is – you – yes, you – will take no active part in expressing your outrage at the escalating intrusions into your private life. Sadly, the undermining of democracy, or more to the point, democracy as we though we knew it, continues apace.

As a consequence (hardly the only consequence, of course), encryption technology is once again in the spotlight. And no, using encryption does not mean that one has something to hide.

Sophisticated and  aware computer users know, that financial data and other confidential information, can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by those not authorized to do so.

Putting Obama and his bad boys aside, here are some examples of how this might occur:

Internet malware attack: Increasingly, statistics reinforce the fact that financial data continues to be targeted by hackers/information thieves, for the purpose of identity theft.

Contrast that reality with these facts; there is no such thing as a totally secure Internet connected computer. All Internet connected computers are subject to attack and compromise.

Lost or stolen Laptop: How often have we read the following – 200,00 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Insurance Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on a laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.

In too many of these cases, negligently, the data is unencrypted. Certainly Laptop theft or loss is not restricted to organizations; it can just as easily happen to you.

Lost or stolen USB drive: Since USB flash drives are so portable, you can take a drive virtually anywhere. Just like most items that are portable and that you carry with you, this type of drive can be lost, or stolen.

To reduce or eliminate the security threat of sensitive data exposure then, the most prudent course of action is data encryption. Essentially, data encryption is a secure process for keeping your sensitive and confidential information private. It’s a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The Encryption process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted.

It happens to us all: Just this past week, I lost not only my house keys (first time ever) – but the USB key attached to the keychain. If you guessed that the drive was encrypted – take a bow.   Smile

TrueCrypt:

TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software application for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume. On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted, or decrypted, just before they are loaded or saved – without any user intervention. The program automatically and transparently encrypts in real time.

No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without the correct password/key file or correct encryption keys. The entire file system is encrypted (i.e., file names, folder names, contents, free space, Meta data, etc.).

Files can be copied to and from a mounted TrueCrypt volume just like they are copied to/from any normal disk (for example, by simple drag-and-drop operations). When you turn off your computer, the volume will be dismounted and files stored in the volume will be inaccessible and encrypted. You may of course, manually dismount the volume.

TrueCrypt offers a number of options – you can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or on a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Installation is simple and straightforward – no gotchas here. Lots of steps – but easy steps.

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If you choose “Keyfiles”, be sure you understand the ramifications. This is an extra security step which has limited application for a home user. You do not need to select this option.

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And – Win 8’s File Explorer reports that the volume has been setup successfully. If you expand the graphic below (click), you’ll also notice my first TrueCrypt volume on this HD from May 9, 2006.

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Indicative of this application’s popularity is the fact that it is downloaded tens of thousands of times each day, across the Internet.

Fast Facts:

Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk

Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive

Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent

Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password – Hidden volume – No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data)

Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS

Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts

Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)

I’ve been using TrueCrypt for a number of years, and I have developed a lot of confidence in this outstanding application. If you determine that encryption of your sensitive data is a priority, I highly recommend that you give TrueCrypt a try.

How effective is TrueCrypt? If you have any doubts as to how effective TrueCrypt really is, then read this article. FBI hackers fail to crack TrueCrypt:

The FBI has admitted defeat in attempts to break the open source encryption used to secure hard drives seized by Brazilian police during a 2008 investigation.

System Requirements: Win 8, Win 7, Vista, XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Download at: TrueCrypt

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Filed under downloads, Encryption Software, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Software, Utilities

Checkout Your Internet Risk Factor With OPSWAT’s Free Security Score

Not an imaginary conversation.

Me – How are you handling all the crazy new cyber threats currently being thrown at us on the Internet?

She – I’m cool! I’ve got the best Anti-virus program there is (her reference – the neighbourhood geek.)

Me – Good to hear that. So, what are you doing to take care of the rest?

She – What rest?

Rinse, wash and repeat this conversation a thousand times – and, the “rest” almost always becomes the new focus of attention. As it should – it’s here, in an often murky area (at least to a typical user), that, that user, runs a major risk of stumbling.

Security – both physical and electronic – isn’t about eliminating all risk – if it was, you and I (on the physical side), wouldn’t cross the road. Similarly, in Internet security, we can’t eliminate all the risks – short of unplugging the connection. Instead, a more realistic approach requires that we focus our attention on eliminating as many known risks as possible (just as we do in the physical world.)

In other words – we need to engage with the proactive side of Internet security rather than continuing to focus on the reactive side – the, “I’ve got the best Anti-virus program there is” side.

Luckily, there’s a terrific little application – OPSWAT’s Security Score – that in a matter of just a few seconds, evaluates and sets out the “rest” – and, should the application determine that a security issue needs to be addressed, helpful tips/hints are provided.

Regular readers may remember that I first reviewed this application several months ago, and while I agreed in principal with the concept, the execution (in my view), was not up to standard. OPSWAT has since revised and expanded the application in such a way, that Security Score should be considered a “must have” addition to a security toolbox. Particularly for those users who are less familiar with the ever changing cyber threat landscape.

Let me backtrack just a little and put up a graphic from the first run through with Security Score, in April. As you can see, the application teased out a score of 60/100. A less than impressive score for a security professional.

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Good News:

The issues which prevented Security Score from digging into the system in order to provide an authentic result have been addressed and, are reflected in the following graphic – June 7, 2013.

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The above graphic indicates an encryption raw score of zero which reflects the fact that I choose not to use Windows BitLocker.

However, as I wrote in my previous review – “I don’t do full disk encryption. I do however, encrypt selected files/folders (a much better choice for most users in my view), using what has long been considered the premier free encryption application available – TrueCrypt. Still, it’s good to see that the application addresses an issue which often escapes the notice of less experienced users.

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Since application and operating system patches are often neglected by average users, a key component in Security Score measures the users adherence to a patch management routine.

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Often not considered as part of a layered security approach, system/file backup is, in fact, a key element in any such process. You’ll note from the following graphic that Security Score has picked up on my use of a number of backup schemes including Google Drive…..

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and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.

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As the following graphic indicates, I’ve been marked down slightly on AV coverage since the application cannot be aware that I substitute full on-board AV scans with weekly scans using a Linux Live CD.

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Given the conditions that we are now forced to deal with on the Internet – active PC monitoring with a view to insuring the security status of the machine is in good order is not just a preference or a recommendation – it’s an absolute necessity.

Sure, you can do all that this application does, manually. Choosing this route however, one could increase the risk of possible shortcomings in an otherwise acceptable security strategy. So, do yourself a favor and install OPSWAT’s Security Score. Better yet, introduce your friends/relatives/co-workers, to this neat freebie – we’ll all be the better for that.

Download at: OPSWAT

How OPSWAT calculates your security score:

OPSWAT’s score calculation is based on security industry and market research reports, over ten years of expertise in the security field, and feedback from leading security technology vendors on the relative importance of the categories and status of security software.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, OPSWAT

OPSWAT’s Security Score Beta – NOT Ready for Primetime

imageThe concept behind OPSWAT’s  Security Score (currently in Beta) – that is – active PC monitoring with a view to insuring the security status of the machine is in good order – has obvious value. In this case unfortunately, the execution could do with a shake-up. Let’s take a quick walkthrough.

As a security professional it came as more than just a mild surprise to see my test bed (a Win 8 reinstall just 2 days ago), pop out of this application with a dismal security score of 60/100, as shown in the following graphic. Yikes!!

BTW, I ran a series of identical tests – the results – identical – 60/100.

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No, no, no – it won’t get away with it.   Smile

Firewall:

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The lack of response, in the application, to the Windows Firewall – I’m assuming that the Windows Firewall has not been certified by OPSWAT – is a head-shaker.

If I can make the argument that the majority of computer users are not particularly “PC savvy”, I suspect that a “Not Detected” notification might be cause for panic.

The reality – as the following graphic illustrates; Windows Firewall is up and running.

I’ll take 5 points back, thank you!

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Hard Disk Encryption: Sorry – but, I don’t do full disk encryption. However, since I do encrypt selected files/folders (a much better choice for most users in my view), using what has long been considered the premier free encryption application available – TrueCrypt (shown below) – I’ll take my 10 points back, thank you.

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Patch management: Now I’m insulted – sort of. I’m a bear for patch management!   Smile

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Secunia PSI, a free patch management application (again, perhaps the premier example of such software), begs to differ with OPSWAT’s  Security Score. This application, as it has for many years, runs in the background on all my machines.

I’ll take my 10 points back, thank you.

Todays score:

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Public File Sharing: Yes, I do run a torrent application on this machine but, not all file sharing is illegal. To the contrary – virtually all file sharing is legal.

I’ll take my 5 points back, thank you.

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Antivirus score – 18/30: During the system reinstall on this machine, on the recommendation of super user and regular reader Bob Gostischa, I installed avast! Free Antivirus (substituting for AVG Free – a great app too). Much to my delight, incidentally.

avast! Free Antivirus, has been, and continues to be, an exceptional free application ( a quarter of a Billion downloads on CNET alone, speaks to that) – so, an OPSWAT certification of “Bronze” puzzles me. I’m not suggestion that popularity equates to an effective solution – we all know better.

Equally however, many of us do know that avast! Free Antivirus is a very effective solution.

Since OPSWAT suggests that the user may well be better off substituting the installed security application with an OPSWAT certified higher level product, let me counter-suggest that the developer provide access to an explanation of the certification process and, the testing methodology.

In this particular case, OPSWAT’s assessment of avast! Free Antivirus falls short of the generally accepted view as to this application’s effectiveness. I know that, and I suspect that you do as well – but, a typical computer user may not.

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avast! Free Antivirus – My new number one.

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I’ve long been a fan and a strong supporter of OPSWAT, and continue to be – with good reason – the company provides a series of superb free products which techies have come to rely on. AppRemover, as well as Metascan Online and Secure Virtual Desktop.

Yep – I realize this application is in Beta – but, there are Betas and then there are Betas. In the past few years, we have gotten quite use to the “Beta” that for all practical purposes, represents a fully functioning product. This is not one of them. Nice presentation, but…………….

I like the idea – so c’mon guys, hurry with a fix.

I have no doubt that this application will be brought up to the standard we have come to expect from OPSWAT. But, in its current state of Beta, this application provides neither accurate, nor complete information. Incidentally, I awarded myself a 10 point bonus just for the sheer aggravation.   Smile

If you want to take this one out for a test drive, you can download the application here. If you do so, I’d be interested in hearing about the results.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Freeware, Malware Protection, OPSWAT

Tomorrow Is World Backup Day – So, Are You Going To? Backup, That Is.

imageI have some bad news – sad news – for you this morning. Those graduation pictures you treasured, the pictures of your toddler’s first steps, this year’s income tax return which was just about ready to be filed, that resume you just finished updating – GONE – ALL GONE.

Your Hard Drive just quit overnight – never to be booted again. I know I should feel some measure of sympathy for you – but, I don’t.

I’m not trying to be a big meanie* here but, it seems to me, that you are the architect of your own misfortune. A little pre-planning to safeguard your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data – could have saved you considerable distress.

If only you had a backup – but, you don’t – do you? I suspect that it’s little consolation but, you’re not alone. Despite the importance of Hard Drive and individual file backups, most computer technicians will tell you that typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

It’s a little late to tell you this but, if you had been one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users, who regularly and faithfully backup, you would have had some work ahead of you – but, you would have recovered your data.

All of the above of course, is an imaginary scenario – in fact, your system did boot up his morning. But, that’s hardly cause for complacency.

Redundant information: Just like death and taxes are a certainty, the fact that your computer’s Hard Drive will crash one day and refuse to respond, is every bit as certain.

If you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program – one that I have no difficulty recommending is – EASEUS Todo Backup.

This is a brilliant application which will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface.

If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

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The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

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In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and …..

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Done!

Bonus: You can copy backup images to your personal cloud for data double protection. More info here.

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A ton of options so that you can set the parameters of the task to suit your particular needs.

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Recovery, is point and click simple.

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Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

In the following example I’ve run a check on the test backup to verify readability.

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Finding that an image file is unreadable when called upon, ranks with one of life’s low points – well, sort of.    Smile

A quick initial check is a prudent move.

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You’ll have the option of creating a system boot disk. You should do so.

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The “emergency disk” will allow you to boot into EASEUS Todo Backup and then choose from a number of options.

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  Fast facts:

System Backup and Recovery – One-click system backup. Backs up entire system state including the operating system and installed applications on-the-fly without interrupting your work to get the system up in time after crash.

File and Folder Backup – Backs up specified files, network shared files, files in use, folders or file types in case of virus attack, hard disk failure, or deletion by accident, etc.

Disk & partition Backup – Full backup disk(s)/partition(s), dynamic volume(s), or GPT disk(s)/volume(s) to image. It ensures PC security and instant data recovery in case of any data loss.

Incremental Backup – Provide alternatives to perform full backups each time by offering incremental backup. To capture changes saving time & disk space.

Backup Schedule – To run backup automatically at a predefined time. By scheduling a backup task, your system and important data can be backed up now, daily, weekly, monthly.

Disk Clone Tool – Clone or transfer all the data on a hard disk to another. Clone disk is especially useful to upgrade your hard drive to a new one without reinstalling operating systems and applications.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8. (32 bit, 64 bit).

Download at: EASEUS

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

* In recent years, I’ve written 20+ articles on the importance of backing up critical data and, it distresses me somewhat that they have been amongst the least read articles I’ve written.

Good buddy TeX, summed up the backup issue neatly in a comment to a previous backup article sometime back, when he wrote – There are so many good programs out there for backing up, the problem is getting people to take that whole step seriously. It’s like dying,  “That always happens to someone else” theory.

It’s a point worth considering.

For additional reading on this important task, you might consider dropping by the World Backup Day site – DON’T BE AN APRIL FOOL. Backup your files. Check your restores.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Backup Applications, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging

Free Security Software Downloader – Download Multiple Security Apps And Tools In One Go

imageIf you’re into helping your less experienced friends/relatives deal with computer issues, then I think you’ll find that Security Software Downloader (SSDownloader) is a terrific way to help those less experienced users install the freeware security applications that you know, through experience, are a “must have”.

Talk about small!

Security Software Downloader is a tiny open source executable (669KB) – designed specifically as a bulk download manager which focuses on security applications and, security related specialty tools.

A quick walkthrough -

The tab based user interface – Free Antivirus, Security Suites (Trial Versions), Malware Removal, Firewalls, and Other Tools, is uncomplicated and checkbox simple.

In the first screen grab, referencing “Free Antivirus”, I’ve selected three popular applications for download. Notice the languages which are available, as well as the OS “auto detect” feature. According to the developer – changing the language will automatically download your selection/s in the chosen language.

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Total download time – 2:37.

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The default download location is the Desktop. You will however, have a chance to select an alternative location.

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For this test, I’ve bypassed the Trial Versions opportunity. Still, there’s a good selection of well know applications to choose from.

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In this screen capture, you’ll note that I’ve focused on two tools which, I know from experience, can get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

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From the “Other tools” menu, I’ve selected three more applications which have served me well in the past.

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As each download is completed, a system notification area popup, tells the tale – as illustrated below.

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Fast facts:

  • Download the most popular free and paid security software with only one click.
  • Don’t worry about OS or 32bit/64bit, the right version will be automatically downloaded.
  • Stay up to date, the newest versions of the selected software will be downloaded.
  • Choose what you want to download and you will see a notification as soon as your download/s finish.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 bit and 64 bit). Tested on Win 8.

Download at: Sourceforge

For those of us who are geek inclined, SSDownloader (especially given its small footprint), would make a nice addition to a Flash drive toolbox.

Download times will be system specific. In this case, I ran on a 1.7 MB/sec  connection.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, Open Source, Geek Software and Tools, downloads, 64 Bit Software

Zemana AntiLogger – Free One Year License Today At Glarysoft Giveaway

https://billmullins.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/image27.png?w=92&h=92Back in the day, when I had an interest in sponsoring giveaways, I sponsored a giveaway on behalf of  Zemana AntiLogger. Without a doubt, this was the most professional giveaway I have ever had the pleasure in sponsoring. Zemana set up a special page on their site, specifically designed for the sponsored giveaway which led to 2000+ downloads through that page.

I’ve long considered Zemana AntiLogger a must have security application for my Internet connected machines. In fact, I would never connect my web cam without first ensuring that Zemana AntiLogger was up and running. To drive home that point (and others), I’ve reviewed this application several times.

Today only, a one year license is available at no cost through Glarysoft  (the Glary Utilities folks). Rather than reinvent the wheel, it seems appropriate to rerun the following review which was initially posted January 9, 2010.

Take a read, see what you think – and, if you’re convinced that Zemana AntiLogger would be a worthwhile addition to your overall security structure then, take a run over to Glarysoft and download this super security application.

Note: During my initial testing of this application, I ran a series of Anti-Keylogger tests, including tests for web cam penetration. All test methods were defeated by Zemana AntiLogger.

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Zemana AntiLogger – An Ounce of Prevention

image Benjamin Franklin could have been talking about the Internet, and malware, when he reportedly said – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Curing a malware infection caused by today’s sophisticated malware is much more difficult than it has ever been, and I’m convinced, that removing the malware we’re going to have to contend with in 2010, will be incrementally harder still.

Even today, malware tends to write itself into multiple parts of the operating system, and in many cases it can hide its files, registry entries, running process and services, making the infection virtually impossible to find, and remove, without causing operating system damage.

In the coming year, an average computer user who has to deal with even more complex malware infections, will be left with little choice other than having the infected machine worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage.

We’ve previously discussed Keylogger malware here, and how to employ an ounce of prevention by using highly regarded SnoopFree Privacy Shield, a free application, which unfortunately, is compatible with Windows XP only.

Because Keyloggers, a particularly sinister type of malware, that monitors every keystroke a user types on a computer’s keyboard, are often executed as part of a rootkit, or a remote administration (RAT) Trojan horse, they can be extremely difficult to detect, and remove.

While it’s true, that many good quality malware and spyware detection tools should capture Keyloggers, and a properly configured Firewall should prevent all authorized connections, the reality is – this is NOT always the case. Keyloggers in fact, can disable Firewalls and anti-malware tools.

Since my personal home machines now run on Windows 7, I can no longer protect against Keyloggers using SnoopFree Privacy Shield, so I had to find an alternative. Unfortunately, I could not find a freeware substitute application. However, I did find a competitively priced application, Zemana AntiLogger, following a reader’s recommendation, which I’ve been testing for a week or so.

I was immediately impressed by this application, particularly the system defense function. The application intercepted proposed changes to system files NOT picked up by other security applications on my system.

Since I use a Webcam extensively for communicating, I was more than happy to see the active Webcam protection offered by Zemana AntiLogger, which was immediately apparent.

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Test Screens:

This is an example of a Zemana warning, triggered by my launching an anonymous proxy application which by design, injects code into my primary Browser. By checking an appropriate check box I established a rule, permitting this action in future.

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This is an example of a Zemana warning, triggered by my updating both Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes definition databases which, in each case, will make changes to system files. Simply checking a check box establishes a rule, which will permit this action in future.

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This is an example of a Zemana warning, triggered by a screen capture utility I was in the process of using. If this had been an illegal activity. I would of course, have received the same warning. Again, simply checking a check box establishes a rule, which will permit this action, by this utility, in future.

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Fast facts:

Secure your Internet banking and financial transactions

Protect information in emails and Instant Messages

Protect keystrokes from spyware

Protect all screen images

Webcam Logger protection

System Defense

No need to download latest virus signatures

No need to know or detect the malware’s signature

No need to wait for updates from a virus lab

No need to scan files

Proactively looks for suspicious activity

Catches not just the usual suspects, but also sophisticated “zero day” malware

Prevents theft of data via secure connections (HTTPS / SSL)

Does not slow down your PC

Easy to download, install and use

Future-proof

System requirements: Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher (32bit and 64bit). Vista (32bit and 64bit). Windows 7 (32bit and 64bit). Windows 8 (32bit and 64bit).

If keylogger protection, and maintaining your privacy is a concern, you might consider adding this application to your security toolbox.

Download at: Glarysoft

Please note the following terms and conditions:

No free technical support. No free upgrades to future versions. Strictly non-commercial usage.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Giveaways

EULAlyzer – A Free Tool To Help “Uncomplicate” End User License Agreements

imageI’ve always considered that reading a EULA (End User License Agreement), is sort of like reading the phone book; and who reads a phone book?

I must admit that I get bored and distracted when reading EULA text; especially since I’m forced to read reams of small text, in a small window, which requires me to scroll continuously. I suspect, I’m not alone in this, and that most people just skim over the text; or more to the point – don’t bother reading the EULA at all.

However, there’s a downside risk in not reading the EULA carefully. By not reading the EULA carefully, we may let ourselves in for some unwelcome, annoying, and potentially dangerous surprises.

One of the most important aspects of any software license agreement is, the information it provides concerning the intentions of the software, and whether there are additional components bundled with the main application.

Additional components that could potentially display pop-up ads, transmit personal identifiable information back to the developer, or use unique tracking identifiers.

Not all software applications contain these additional components of course, but you need to be aware of those that do when you are considering installing an application.

Software developers who choose to employ these tools (to gather information for example), are generally not underhanded, and in most cases there is full disclosure of their intent contained in the EULA. But here’s the rub – virtually no one reads EULAs.

EULAlyzer, a free application from BrightFort (formerly: Javacool Software), the SpywareBlaster developer, can make reading and analyzing license agreements, while not a pleasure, at least not as painful.

This free application quickly scans a EULA, and points out words, statements, and phrases, that you need to consider carefully. Results are rated by “Interest Level” and organized by category, so it’s easy to zero-in on the issue that concern you the most.

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Working similar to an anti-spyware program, EULAlyzer flags suspicious wording on a scale of 1 to 10 – based on how critical the disclosed information can be to your security, or privacy.

Let’s take a look at the license agreement for Piriform’s CCleaner.

You’ll note that there three areas of limited concern that have been flagged – as shown in the screen shot, below. Clicking on “Goto” icon will expand the related wording.

I’m very familiar with Piriform’s freeware applications – nevertheless, as is my habit, I read the EULA carefully.

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Let’s take a look at the license agreement for GOM Audio Player.

Again, EULAlyzer has flagged a number of issues – but, in this case, these are issues that I considered very carefully before installation this application.

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If you, like me, download freeware frequently, then you need to read the software license agreement carefully. EULAlyzer will make it easier for you to focus on the important aspects of the agreement.

There is no doubt that we could all use a little help in working our way through these wordy, but necessary agreements. The reality is, all software EULAs should be read carefully.

Fast facts:

Discover potentially hidden behavior about the software you’re going to install.

Pick up on things you missed when reading license agreements.

Keep a saved database of the license agreements you view.

Instant results – super-fast analysis in just a second.

EULAlyzer makes it simple to instantly identify highly interesting and important parts of license agreements, privacy policies, and other similar documents, including language that deals with:

Advertising

Tracking

Data Collection

Privacy-Related Concerns

Installation of Third-Party or Additional Software

Inclusion of External Agreements By Reference

Potentially Suspicious Clauses

and, much more…

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8.

Download at: Major Geeks

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Filed under Don't Get Scammed, downloads, Freeware, Software, Utilities

Malware Hunting? Checkout These 20 + Free Tools Designed To Destroy Tough Malware

imageChoosing and using the right tool, which has been designed specifically for the job at hand, is obviously a levelheaded approach. Still, I’ll wager that you can conjure up more than one occasion when you’ve encountered the “one tool for all purposes” mindset – the so-called “Birmingham Screwdriver” effect – “If it doesn’t work – hit it. If it still doesn’t work, use a bigger hammer.”

The Birmingham Screwdriver approach, taken by many AV solutions, may not always be the most appropriate approach to eradicating a tough malware problem – a specially designed application which targets specific classes of malware may be a better solution.

The following tools have been specifically designed to help skilled users better identify malware infections and then, eradicate (hopefully), those specific infections. These tools require advanced computer knowledge – unless you feel confident in your diagnostic skills, you should avoid them.

Just to be clear – not all of these tools are “one-click simple” to decipher, and users need to be particularly mindful of false positives.

Should you choose to add these applications to your antimalware toolbox, be aware that you will need the latest updated version for maximum impact.

Note: Many of the following tools have been tested and reviewed here previously.

Emsisoft HiJackFree

The program operates as a detailed system analysis tool that can help you in the detection and removal of Hijackers, Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, and other malware. It doesn’t offer live protection but instead, it examines your system, determines if it’s been infected, and then allows you to wipe out the malware.

Runscanner

If you’re a malware hunter, and you’re in the market for a free system utility which will scan your system for running programs, autostart locations, drivers, services and hijack points, then Runscanner should make your shortlist. The developers of Runscanner describe this freeware utility as having been designed to “detect changes and misconfigurations in your system caused by spyware, viruses, or human error.”

HijackThis

HijackThis is a free utility which heuristically scans your computer to find settings that may have been changed by homepage hijackers, spyware, other malware, or even unwanted programs. In addition to this scan and remove capability HijackThis comes with several tools useful in manually removing malware from a computer. The program doesn’t target specific programs, but instead it analyses registry and file settings, and then targets the methods used by cyber-crooks. After you scan your computer, HijackThis creates a report, and a log file (if you choose to do so), with the results of the scan.

RKill

RKill is a program developed at BleepingComputer.com – “It was created so that we could have an easy to use tool that kills known processes that stop the use of our normal anti-malware applications. Simple as that. Nothing fancy. Just kill known malware processes so that anti-malware programs can do their job.”

Emsisoft BlitzBlank

BlitzBlank is a tool for experienced users and all those who must deal with Malware on a daily basis. Malware infections are not always easy to clean up. In more and more cases it is almost impossible to delete a Malware file while Windows is running. BlitzBlank deletes files, Registry entries and drivers at boot time before Windows and all other programs are loaded.

McAfee Labs Stinger

Stinger is a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses. It is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather a tool to assist administrators and users when dealing with an infected system. Stinger utilizes next generation scan engine technology, including process scanning, digitally signed DAT files, and scan performance optimizations.

Specialty Removal Tools From BitDefender

28 special removal tools from Bitdefender.  On the page – click on “Removal Tools”.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

This tool checks your computer for infection by specific, prevalent malicious software (including Blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom) and helps to remove the infection if it is found. Microsoft will release an updated version of this tool on the second Tuesday of each month.

NoVirusThanks

NoVirusThanks Malware Remover is an application designed to detect and remove specific malware, Trojans, worms and other malicious threats that can damage your computer. It can also detect and remove rogue security software, spyware and adware. This program is not an Antivirus and does not protect you in real time, but it can help you to detect and remove Trojans, spywares and rogue security software installed in your computer.

Norton Power Eraser

Symantec describes Norton Power Eraser in part, as a tool that “takes on difficult to detect crimeware known as scareware or rogueware. The Norton Power Eraser is specially designed to aggressively target and eliminate this type of crimeware and restore your PC back to health.”

FreeFixer

FreeFixer is a general purpose removal tool which will help you to delete potentially unwanted software, such as adware, spyware, Trojans, viruses and worms. FreeFixer works by scanning a large number of locations where unwanted software has a known record of appearing or leaving traces. FreeFixer does not know what is good or bad so the scan result will contain both files and settings that you want to keep and perhaps some that you want to remove.

Rootkit Tools:

If you think you might have hidden malware on your system, I recommend that you run multiple rootkit detectors. Much like anti-spyware programs, no one program catches everything.

IceSword

IceSword is a very powerful software application that will scan your computer for rootkits. It also displays hidden processes and resources on your system that you would be unlikely to find in any other Windows Explorer like program. Because of the amount of information presented in the application, please note that IceSword was designed for more advanced users.

GMER

This freeware tool is essentially a combination of Sysinternals’ Rootkit Revealer and Process Explorer. The program can list running processes, modules and Windows services, in addition to scanning for the presence of rootkits.

Special mention 1:

MalwareBytesIn addition to its superb free AV application, MalwareBytes offers a basket full of specialty tools. The following application descriptions have been taken from the site.

Chameleon

Malwarebytes Chameleon technology gets Malwarebytes running when blocked by malicious programs.

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit BETA

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit removes the latest rootkits.

FileASSASSIN

FileASSASSIN can eradicate any type of locked files from your computer.

RegASSASSIN

RegASSASSIN removes malware-placed registry keys in two simple steps – just reset permissions and delete! This powerful and portable application makes hard-to-remove registry keys a thing of the past.

Special mention 2:

A Rescue Disk (Live CD), which I like to think of as the “SWAT Team” of antimalware solutions – is an important addition to your malware toolbox. More often than not, a Live CD can help you kill malware DEAD!

Avira AntiVir Rescue System – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a Linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk – Boot from the Kaspersky Rescue Disk to scan and remove threats from an infected computer without the risk of infecting other files or computers.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Malware Removal, Rootkit Revealers, System Recovery Tools

Comodo IceDragon – A More Secure Firefox?

Comodo IceDragon Browser This is not 1985 when the only thing you had to worry about was what might be on the floppy disks you exchanged with your friends. Today, your Browser is the conduit into your computer – that’s the route by which the majority of malware spreads.

In an age when Internet threats present an ever-evolving, and increasingly sophisticated danger, to a user’s security, privacy, and identity, specialty Internet Browsers like Comodo IceDragon, are becoming much more popular.

Why should this be so – and, what’s the difference between Comodo IceDragon, and regular old Firefox?

First: You’ll notice during the installation process (screen capture shown below), you’ll have the option of choosing Comodo’s secure DNS servers. You may choose to implement this security feature system wide – or, you may choose instead to protect IceDragon only.

There’s not much point in choosing to opt out – since doing so, defeats one of the primary benefits of running with IceDragon.

While the developer points out that you may have potential issues to address, should you choose to run through a VPN – I didn’t experience any problems running through my favorite VPN – TunnelBear – free edition.

Do not be influenced by my choice (as shown below) – choose a setting that reflects your usage pattern.

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FYI: If you’re concerned with DNS security, you do have choices over and above running with a Browser which incorporates a DNS security feature. There are a number of free, beefed-up DNS services – including  Google Public DNS.

Second: Comodo has built into the Browser, it’s Site Inspector – a feature which must be manually launched by clicking on the related Icon, as shown in the following screen capture. My Australian mate Mal C., swears by this feature.

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A quick click (either on a link – or, while on a page), will provide the user with a report as to whether “malicious activity or malware has been detected on the site in question.”

Here’s a shot of a probe on Yahoo.

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So, is this being overplayed – or, is this really an issue?

The very small sample of malicious sites, shown in the following screen shot, should help convince you that it is an issue.

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So, what about my site – how’s it doing?

You’ll note in the screen capture below, that we’re free of malware or malicious activity here. Not surprising, since I use Comodo’s Web Inspector alert as a line of defense to protect this site.

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Third: If you’re a social media site affectionado then, Comodo has you covered with the addition of a social media button. A quick click will launch a log-in page for Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin (user selectable).

On the face of it, this feature may not seem as if it means very much. But, if it helps stop users from logging in using links contained in emails, for example – then, potentially it has substantial value.

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So, how does it look when compared with a “regular” version of Firefox?

Running with IceDragon – no add-ons or customization – yet.

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My regular Firefox with selected add-ons.

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The options menus appears slightly different that that in Firefox – but, the only noteworthy difference I found was, a user has an additional opportunity to turn on/turn off – the DNS feature as described earlier.

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Additional features:

Fully compatible with Firefox plug-ins and extensions – according to Comodo.

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Fast facts:

Fast, easy to use and light on PC resources

Scan web-pages for malware right from the browser

Lightning fast page loads with integrated DNS service

Privacy and performance enhancements over Firefox core

Full compatibility with Firefox plug-ins

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, – 32/64 bit. Tested on Windows 8 for this review.

Download at: Comodo

User Guide: Should you need help with CID, check out the online user guide.

You may be are aware that Comodo initially developed a version of Chromium/Chrome (Comodo Dragon), which has essentially the same features as described in this review of IceDragon.

I reviewed that version in February 2010. It’s worth noting, that substantial improvements have been made in the application since that review. Further information on this browser is available at the developer’s site, here.

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Filed under Browsers, Comodo, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware