Monthly Archives: September 2008

Destroy Your Deleted Files with Free File Shredder 2

Many of us now own, and use a paper file shredder to destroy documents, and personal and financial papers, that we don’t want to fall into the hands of identity thieves or anyone else not entitled to have access.

So now, consider those files on your computer that you’ve deleted, sent to the recycle bin, and then flushed as you emptied the recycle bin. When you go through this process the deleted files are gone forever, right?

Well if you’re a typical computer user, you quite likely do believe that they’re gone forever, since the deleted files can’t be seen in Windows Explorer. In fact, you can’t find these files anywhere on your Hard Drive.

It may surprise you to learn that not only can I find those files but I can recover them as well. Oh, it’s not because I’m a super- duper tech wizard – although I will say, with some modesty, that I am. LOL.

Here’s the lowdown: when a file is deleted from your Hard Drive, what really gets deleted is the system link pointing towards the file, but not the file itself. Surprisingly, it is relatively easy to retrieve the deleted file using specialized file recovery software (often available as a free download), which takes advantage of shortcomings in the Windows operating systems.

Let me give you an example. Recently, as part of my personal commitment to give back to society, I agreed to rebuild 30+ computers (at no cost), being donated to a local charity for distribution to less fortunate families.

While working on these machines I noticed immediately that although the Hard Drives had undergone deletion, they had not been wiped. Since these machine had been donated by a government agency; that struck me as being negligent in the extreme.

To forcefully bring this situation to the attention of those who had committed this serious breach in security, I recovered a number of these files. Not unexpectedly, the recovered files did in fact did contain confidential information. In this case, confidential information on families on public assistance. As part of the process, I saved the recovered files to a floppy disk and presented the disk to the appropriate authorities.

It’s easy to see from this example, that deleted files (or a good portion of a file) can easily be recovered.

In order to delete or shred files permanently, to protect your privacy and potentially your security, or for any other reason for that matter, you need a program such as File Shredder 2 that is capable of overwriting the file with a random series of binary data multiple times.

This process is often called shredding. That way, the actual content of the file has been overwritten and the possibilities of recovering such a shredded file becomes mainly theoretical.

File Shredder 2 (rated by CNET’s editors as a 5 Star utility), is a simple but powerful program, with a straightforward interface, that many users judge to be better than some commercial file shredders. With File Shredder 2 you can remove files from your hard drive permanently, and feel confident that the file can’t be recovered.

Running the program allows you to choose between 5 different shredding algorithms, each one gradually stronger than the previous one. As well, it has an integrated Disk Wiper which uses a shredding algorithm to wipe unused disk space. I use this feature frequently, to clean up my drives (after running test applications), and to destroy any leftover fragments of previously deleted/uninstalled files.

If you’re looking for a great free file shredder application that does what it says it does, in an easy to understand manner, I highly recommend File Shredder 2.

Operating Systems: Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Disk Cleaners, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Privacy, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Fake/Redirected Search Results – Consequences for You

I hate being victimized! Unfortunately, all of us who use the Internet can be victimized in ways that sometimes defy credibility. Ironically, even those of us who specialize in Internet security can be targeted by cyber-criminals.

Several weeks ago, one of my Blog sites was the target of redirected search engine results. Essentially, what had been happening is this – when a search was made by a web user which produced a result listing my site, and the user clicked on that link, in some circumstances, the user was redirected to a site, or page, controlled by a hijacker.

While this exploit didn’t impact me financially, since I don’t run ads on my sites, it was disappointing knowing that cyber-criminals were potentially benefiting economically from the results of my efforts. Very often, the purpose behind this type of attack is the hacker’s need to increase his site’s reputation on Google, and other search engines, by fraudulently increasing the site’s hits. This can lead to an increase in profits generated by that site.

The dangers to you:

Those of us who are involved in Internet security know – cyber-crooks are unrelenting in their chase to infect web search results. We know that there has been a steady increase in the use of custom-built Websites designed to drop malicious code on computers, and in the manipulation of legitimate pages in order to infect computers with malware.

Earlier today, I read on the Darkreading Website, a security site for IT professionals, “that hackers have launched a multi-faceted attack on the Website of the popular AARP organization, rerouting traffic from the seniors’ association to pornography sites”. A bit chancy, I would have thought.

Other common techniques used by these cyber-criminals include the manipulation of search engine results, and the seeding of Websites among the top results returned by these engines. When a potential victim visits one of these sites the likelihood of the downloading of malicious code onto the computer, by exploiting existing vulnerabilities, is extremely high.

There are several ways that this can occur. Cyber-crooks can exploit vulnerabilities on the server hosting the web page to insert an iFrame, (an HTML element which makes it possible to embed another HTML document inside the main document). The iFrame can then activate the download of malicious code by exploiting additional vulnerabilities on the visiting machine.

Alternatively, a new web page can be built, with iFrames inserted, that can lead to malware downloads. This new web page appears to be legitimate.

Another method is the insertion of false dialogue boxes, fake toolbars, and more on sites; all designed to load destructive malware which could include rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots.

So what can you do to ensure you are protected, or to reduce the chances you will become a victim?

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is WOT (Web of Trust), an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use.

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible.

Disable scripting features in email programs.

Make regular backups of critical data.

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised.

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Install a personal firewall on the computer.

Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments.

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Filed under Browsers, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Search Engines, Spyware - Adware Protection, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Wi-Fi Alternative? – Powerline Networking!

When most of us consider setting up a home network, we generally tend to be single minded. Automatically, it seems, we focus on Wi-Fi to the exclusion of any other network solution; and there are alternative solutions.

Wi-Fi has obvious advantages, not the least of which is it does away with the messy job of installing network cables which tend be unsightly, and in some cases difficult to install, particularly if run between floors.

On the other hand Wi-Fi can be a less than satisfactory solution to networking since issues such as distance between devices, thickness of walls and physical separation in the case of devices separated by floors, can impact Wi-Fi performance. In fact, in the past I have had less than acceptable performance with Wi-Fi devices located on different floors.

Power Line Communications (PLC) is a technology that uses the electrical wiring in your home, or your office, to provide network and Internet communication between attached devices, including computers, digital media devices such as a Tivo/Slingbox, and gaming consoles like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii.

To network two computers, for example, you start by plugging the outlet adapters, which form the backbone of the technology, into the two appropriate electrical outlets. Then connect the outlet adapters to the Ethernet ports on your computers and voila! – you now have a basic network connection between the two machines.

Early on in the development of this technology performance was an issue, but in recent years relatively new improvements now permit up to 200Mbps transfer rates. In some European countries 400Mbps transfer rates are common. So playing games on more than one device; transferring video, music or other high-volume files on the network, or using devices such as network hard disk to store large files are not an issue.

As with Wi-Fi, the signals have the ability to travel a short distance outside your home, so this technology includes the capacity to set an encrypted password to enhance network security.

There is some resistance to this technology in the U.S. amongst short wave radio hobbyists, since it’s possible for these adapters to generate unacceptable interference to short wave radio communication.

Quick facts:

Simple to set up – just plug in

Instant network connection

No network cables to install

Easy Internet connection sharing Network – Computers, Game Consoles, HD Media Devices

Cost: $100 – $200 (approximate)

If you’re interested in additional information on this technology, then checkout Wikipedia, and the Universal Powerline Association website.

Suppliers of this technology include these familiar companies: NetGear and D-Link.

For a great article on setting up a network read “Which is Better Ethernet or Wireless” by TechPaul.

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Filed under Easy Computer Networking, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Networking, Windows Tips and Tools

Defeat Internet Keyloggers – KeyScrambler Personal (Free)

Cyber-crooks are relentless in their pursuit of your money and let’s face it – it’s all about the money. In the worst case scenario, your identity and your financial security can be severely compromised.

Despite the best efforts of AntiSpyware, AntiVirus, and other Internet security products, you still face substantial risks while surfing the Internet. One type of risk/danger that is rarely considered, or discussed, is the Keylogger.

A Keylogger is a form of spyware which, once installed on a computer, can record every keystroke that is made on that computer, and transmit those keystrokes back to a cyber-criminal. The function of a Keylogger is to steal passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

A Keylogger in action: The to_my_love.scr (to my love screensaver), is currently circulating on the Internet by way of a personal invitation email. Clicking “yes” when your computer asks whether you want to install this screensaver, installs a Worm/Keylogger on the machine.

This Keylogger is capable of stealing IM passwords, email passwords, bank account numbers, and confidential/financial information. Using IM, email, and other contact information from the now infected computer, the Worm/Keylogger goes on to infect other machines. That’s right, the computers of friends, family, and perhaps even co-workers.

Protect yourself with KeyScrambler Personal: KeyScrambler Personal is a free plug-in for FireFox, Internet Explorer, and Flock web browsers which protects all input you type into the browser from Keyloggers. This free version of KeyScrambler encrypts your keystrokes at the kernel driver level.

When you type on your keyboard, the input travels along a path within the operating system before it arrives at your browser. Keyloggers plant themselves along this path and observe and record your keystrokes. The compromised information is then sent to the cyber criminal who will exploit your passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

By encrypting your keystrokes at the keyboard driver level, deep within the operating system, a Keylogger is beaten since it can only record the encrypted keys, which are indecipherable.

Unlike AntiVirus and AntiSpyware programs that depend on recognition to remove Keyloggers that they know about, KeyScrambler will protect you from both known and unknown Keyloggers.

I’ve been using this great little plug-in for a few months now and feel more secure logging in than I did. Despite this, I change all of my passwords frequently since doing so, is just common sense.

Quick facts:

Protects user input in all parts of the browser against key-loggers.

Protects login credentials, credit card numbers, passwords, search terms and more

Works with IE, FireFox, and Flock: Java, Flash, PDF Forms

Email protection including Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail.

No learning curve.

Protects against Keyloggers even on security compromised computers

Requires no effort on your part after installation

In the top 5 FireFox Extensions for security and privacy

System Requirements: Windows 2000, 2003, XP, and Vista (32-bit and 64-bit)

Download at: QFX Software

For full, free, system Keylogger protection checkout, “Are You Being Tracked? – Get Snoop Free Privacy Shield” on this Blog.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Encryption, Encryption Software, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, Online Banking, Online Safety, Phishing, Privacy, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Rogue Security Software Warning – WOT (Web of Trust) Releases New Video

WOT (Web of Trust), has just saved me considerable time and effort by releasing their new video; Online Threats – Fake Anti-malware.

Being a System and Security Blogger, and informal parties don’t mix. Anyone with a particular set of skills, or uncommon knowledge, (Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker, etc. – well you know what I mean), is probably familiar with the opening line asked by newfound “friends” at casual parties. “Can you explain …………” Or, can I ask you a question?

It’s not as if I really have any choice in providing answers to computer problems that my fellow party guests pose – after all, the questions are supposed to pass for general party chatter. Given that approach, it becomes difficult to suggest to your new “friend” that he/she should call your company on Monday, and a technician would be glad to provide answers at the customary fee.

Surprisingly, one of the questions I’m getting more and more often is to explain Rogue Security Software and its consequences on users’ computer systems. Generally, I provide the following information (not in these word I grant you), although I must admit that the quantity of party refreshments consumed, by both the curious partygoer and myself, might impact both the length, and the complexity of the answer.

“A rogue security application is an application, usually found on free download and adult websites, or it can be installed from rogue security software websites, using Trojans or manipulating Internet browser security holes.

After the installation of rogue security software the program launches fake or false malware detection warnings. Rogue security applications, and there seems to be an epidemic of them on the Internet currently, are developed to mislead uninformed computer users’ into downloading and paying for the “full” version of this bogus software, based on the false malware positives generated by the application.

Some types of rogue security software have the potential to collect private and personal information from an infected machine which could include passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information”.

Well, starting today I no longer have to describe the complex set of variables surrounding Rogue Security Software to those who are capable of asking the question, but who are not always in the appropriate condition, or frame of mind to, retain the answer.

I discovered in my email today that WOT – my favorite Internet Browser Security add-on – as part of their continuing video series on online scams and malware threats in action – has just released a new video on fake anti-malware software (Rogue Security Software).

I think we can agree that it’s often easier to understand a concept when viewed on video than it is viewing the same information in written form; and so it is with this WOT video. For a short but very important lesson on what Rogue Security Software is, and the impact it has on unaware computer users, watching this video is strongly recommended.

To view the video go to Mywot Online-threats, or YouTube.

If you’re not yet familiar with the WOT Internet Browser Security add-on; WOT provides detailed results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.

Quick facts – WOT checks the following:

Trustworthiness

Vendor reliability

Privacy

Child Safety

More quick facts:

Ratings for over 20 million websites

Downloaded over 1,000,000 times (Checkout WOT’s Million Download

Contest).

The WOT browser add-on is light and updates automatically

WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Gmail, etc.

Settings can be customized to better protect your family

WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Works with Internet Explorer and FireFox

Interface supports English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Finnish.

Surf more securely, by installing this unique browser add-on which will provide you with an in-depth site analysis based on real world results. Keep in mind however, that you are your own best protection. Stop · Think · Click

Download at: MyWot

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Firefox Add-ons, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Rogue Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Virus Response Lab 2009 (VirusResponse Lab 2009) – Removal Solutions

The one thing we know for sure about Rogue Security Software is its very smart.

It’s so smart that it often recreates its own component parts, even if it has been deleted. How smart is that?

Rogue security software can 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.

Experienced computer users’ have come to realize that the Internet is alive with predators intent on installing damaging programs, (Rogue Security Software, spyware, adware, viruses and Trojans), on vulnerable computer systems.

However, the sad reality is, the majority of computer users are undereducated when it comes to recognizing the dangers and threats that the Internet poses to their computers, and to their personal privacy.

The installation of Rogue Security Software can often cost the unfortunate victim loads of money in an attempt to get rid of it; invariable leads to a critically disabled PC, or in the worst case scenario, the possibility exists for hackers to gain access to important personal and financial information.

There seems to be no end to the release of new Rogue Security threats, and once again we are forced to deal with a new variant of an older rogue application. Virus Response Lab 2009, a clone of Antivirus Lab 2009, is now circulating on the Internet seeking out unaware users in order to steal their money.

The objective of Virus Response Lab 2009, which is the objective of all Rogue Security Software, is to convince the victim to pay for the “full” version of the application in order to remove what are, in fact, false positives that this program is designed to display on the infected computer in various ways, including fake scan results, pop-ups and system tray notifications.

This rogue application is designed to load on boot up and will then generate its fake or false malware detection warnings. Even if the victim is tricked into paying for the “full” version, Virus Response Lab 2009 continues to run as a background process incessantly reporting those fake or false malware detection warnings. Over time, this type of software will essentially destroy the victim’s computer operating system, making the machine unusable.

In the last year, or so, I have heard some horrendous stories from readers where the common thread has been the debiting of their credit cards, multiple times, by the cyber-criminals responsible for the distribution of Rogue Security Software.

If you are a victim of this or other Rogue Security Software, the following removal solutions will be invaluable. The individuals/companies, who wrote and developed these free tools, are to be congratulated for giving back so freely to the Internet community.

Without their generous efforts, those infected by this and other rogue applications, would be faced with the unenviable task of performing a complete system reinstall, with a strong probability of losing irreplaceable Hard Drive data.

Removal Solutions:

Bleeping Computer is a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software.

Rogue Fix at Internet Inspiration

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

Malwarebytes, a reliable anti-malware company has created a free application to help keep you safe and secure. RogueRemover will safely remove a number of rogue security applications.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue security software.

Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications where exposure to rogue security applications is widespread.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Rogue Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Risk Rate Running Processes – Free Security Process Explorer

Glarysoft, the developer’s of the powerful, free system tool Glary Utilities (which should be part of every casual/intermediate computers users’ toolbox), also offers a free enhanced task manager; Security Process Explorer. This application though, is better suited to experienced or advanced computer users.

Security Process Explorer operates very much like A-squared HiJackFree but with an additional twist. Operating as an enhanced task manager, the program provides advanced risk information about programs, and processes, running on your computer.

The program displays all the usual task manager information, including file name, directory path, description, CPU usage, and so on. What sets the application apart is the unique security risk rating that is applied to running programs and processes.

The major caveat here however is, the user must make the decision whether a particular process, or program, should be terminated or removed. Thankfully, you can get help in making that decision by clicking on the More Info Tab. Doing so, opens Glarysoft’s web based database where additional information about the specific program/process can be obtained, along with a risk factor for that inquiry.

If you make a mistake, the application offers a way out. Just go to the Edit Tab and reverse the action.

Using Security Process Explorer you can easily find and remove unnecessary background processes. As well, you can assign more resources to demanding processes like games, real-time multimedia applications and CD writing software, where necessary.

Quick facts:

Provides detailed information about all running processes

Specifies whether a process is safe or not

Single click process termination

Block unneeded processes or malware

Simple user interface

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user (sometimes know as a geek), and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then Security Process Explorer is one that’s worth taking a look at.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Manual Malware Removal, Security Rating Applications, Software, System Process Scanners, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Lose Your USB Stick and You Lose it All – Encrypt Now with Free Software!

Sure, I know, you’ll never lose your USB flash drive, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen. But does loss, or theft, of a USB stick happen? You bet.

How often have you read/heard 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/USB flash drive stolen/lost earlier this week.

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

The following are selected statistics, but they make the point that USB sticks, or other portable media devices, frequently get lost, or stolen.

Privacyrights.org recently reported that in the last two years, personal information on over 244 million Americans has being stolen, or exposed in other ways.

– Recently in the U.K. an unencrypted Ministry of Defense USB drive was found on the floor of a nightclub. That’s not much of a story I suppose, but added to the other fifty eight Ministry of Defense unencrypted drives that have been lost so far in 2008, that contained details of troop movements, locations, and travel accommodation and it takes on a different perspective.

– In the U.S., The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) recently admitted the loss of an unencrypted external hard drive containing the personal, bank and payroll information of up to 100,000 of its former and current employees who worked for the agency from January 2002 until August 2005.

– Just last month unencrypted data on all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales went missing after a contractor lost a USB stick on which it had been stored.

– According to Security Software Zone “Government data loss and data leakages related to lost or stolen computer memory sticks, are now commonplace.”

To reduce or eliminate the security threat to your sensitive data, the most prudent course for you to follow is to encrypt your data. If you’re unfamiliar with data encryption; simply put, it is a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted by you.

Here are a number of free encryption applications that will encrypt your data and are suitable for a USB flash drive:

EncryptOnClick

EncryptOnClick is a free program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files. The program is very simple to use, and features military grade 256-bit AES encryption.

After you have launched the application, simply select the target file/folder you want to encrypt. Following the easy interface, type a password for that file/folder which will then be encrypted. To open the encrypted file/folder at a later date, you must type the correct password.

Quick facts:

A very secure encryption and decryption method is used (256-bit AES encryption)

Files are both compressed & encrypted, which results in a smaller file

Password protected

Will encrypt single files or all files in a folder

Very simple to use interface

Can be used on a USB key

Fully Unicode enabled so filenames in any language can be encrypted

Will encrypt, decrypt, compress, and uncompress files which can also be opened and decrypted using third party programs like WinZip 9 – provided the correct password is used

Will detect if you’re decrypting a file that is in a temporary folder, and if so, will prompt you to see if you would like to decrypt it into a different folder

Command line parameters can be used

Complete help file

Free technical support, online forums, knowledge base, and FAQs at 2BrightSparks

Tip: Use on a USB key by copying the files EncryptOnClick.exe, EncryptOnClick.exe manifest, ExceedZip.dll to a named folder on the USB key.

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Download at: Download.com

TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software system, (one I have using for the last several years) 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. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/correct encryption keys.

TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Once your encrypted files are mounted to a local drive with your password or key, you can manipulate those files, i.e. you can open, copy, delete, or modify them. When you have completed working on those files, you then dismount the volume and the files are then safely secured from unauthorized access.

Quick 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

System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista

Download at: Download.com

For those of you who are more interested in protecting files, or folders, on your home computer the two applications above will do the job nicely. Choice is good of course, so here is an additional free program that you might be interested in.

My Lockbox

My Lockbox is a freeware software application that allows you to do just that, and then password protect those files on your computer.

Other users will not have access to these files, nor will they be able to accidentally, or otherwise, view them or manipulate them in any way.

The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from all other users and applications on your computer; including the Administrator and the System. The lockbox (protected folder), is impossible to access not only from the local computer, but also from the Internet.

Following the on-screen instructions makes this program extremely easy to setup and use. The lockbox location, password, and parameters are configured during the easy setup procedure.

After the setup is completed, the lockbox will be hidden and locked until you, as the user, enter the valid password. My Lockbox Control Panel allows you easily change basic lockbox parameters: lockbox location, protection status, and password.

The program is effective, easy to use and best of all – it’s free.

Quick facts:

Very easy to use

Almost any folder on your computer can be password protected

Instant protection – no file scrambling

Lockbox folder is inaccessible even by the system administrators

Lockbox folder is inaccessible both locally and remotely

Lockbox folder can be protected in Windows safe mode

Hotkeys support – you can popup the Control Panel with a keystroke

Skinned user interface

Freeware

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, Vista

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source, Portable Applications, Privacy, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Is It You in This Video? – You Don’t Want to Find Out!

If you receive an email that asks you “is it you in this video?”, and you’re curious – go ahead and click. But before you do, make sure you have:

A current backup CD/DVD or other media containing your irreplaceable files – your probably going to need it.

Your original operating system install disk – you’ll need this too.

Your system and peripherals driver disks. Without these you’re going to spend hours on the Internet locating (if your lucky), drivers that were written specifically for your peripherals.

You can save yourself all this trouble, and heartache, just by one simple action, or more properly; by a single inaction. Don’t click!

As is usual with malicious emails, (and this is a malicious email), clicking on the embedded link will begin the process of infecting your computer with malware, which could put at risk, your financial and other confidential information, not to mention your computer and its operating system.

Scam emails like this are designed, and crafted, to seek out financial information on your computer that can be used to steal your money, or they can be designed to install various types of malware on your computer that can have drastic consequences for your system’s stability.

You may well be curious when it comes to emails like this, but don’t let your curiosity override your common sense. Security experts argue (none to successfully it seems), that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped “just clicking haphazardly” or opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous.

You may be lucky, and you may be able to recover control of your computer if your anti-malware applications are up to date, and the malware signature recognize the intruder as malware. But I wouldn’t count on it. Often, anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database can be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

It is beyond dispute that the Internet now fits the criteria of a world that is not just perceived to be, but is in fact, personally threatening to uninformed or casual Internet users. I could go on but I think the message here is clear. Think carefully before you click.

As I have pointed out in the past (I’m sure regular readers of this Blog must be tired of seeing this), the following are actions you can take to protect your computer system, your money and your identity:

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.

As an addition to your existing malware applications, download and install ThreatFire 3 (provided free by PC Tools), which blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have a high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior.

In addition:

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer

Install a personal firewall on the computer

Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

If you are unsure of you current security software, then checkout “Need Free Security Programs? – 10 Of The Best!” on this site.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Phishing, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Free – A-Squared HiJack Free – Geeky Malware Removal

There are plenty of good anti-malware products, but experienced computer users’ realize that to ensure maximum safety, it’s important to have layered defenses in the ongoing fight against malware.

Given the virtual epidemic of malware currently circulating on the Internet, no single anti-malware tool is likely to identify and remove all of the millions of rogue malware that infests the cyber world.

A recent study carried out by PandaLabs of more than 1.5 million users, revealed that 23% of home computers with up-to-date security solution installed were infected by malware. Current data indicates that this situation has not improved

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user (sometimes know as a geek), and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then A-squared HiJackFree is one that’s worth taking a look at. This free application, from EMSI Software, offers a potent layer of additional protection to add to your major anti-malware programs.

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 eradicate the malware.

Quick facts:

Analyzes the system configuration using live online analysis

Manages all types of Autoruns on your system

Controls all Explorer and Browser plug-ins (BHOs, Toolbars, etc.)

Manages all running Processes and their associated modules

Controls all Services, even those Windows doesn’t display

Allows you to view open ports and the associated listening processes

Allows you to view all DNS entries in the hosts file

Manages installed Layered Service Providers

Multilingual – language packs for English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and many more.

This is a worthwhile application to add to your anti-malware toolbox that impressed me with its performance on my test systems.

A-squared HiJackFree is free for private use only.

Last Update: May 12, 2008

Version: 3.1.0.16

System Requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Manual Malware Removal, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, System Utilities, trojans, Utilities, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools