Tag Archives: anti-spyware

Returnil System Safe 2011 Free –Virtualization With Added Antimalware Protection

System virtualization is a very cool technology which, if used correctly, has the power to control malware intrusion through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment, rather than operating in a “real” environment.

Running virtualized while surfing the Internet makes sense, and since it does, we’ve reviewed a number of these applications in the last year or two, including -Shadow Defender, Returnil Virtual System (a previous version of the application currently being reviewed), Sandboxie, GeSWall, Wondershare Time Freeze, Free BufferZone Pro, and more – including virtualized Browser add-ons.

A quick overview of Returnil System Safe 2011 Free:

Returnil System Safe clones your computer’s System Partition and boots the PC into a controlled virtual environment, rather than native Windows. Since the OS operates virtually, the “real” OS cannot be compromised by malware, malicious software, etc. Should the virtual OS become compromised, a simple restart will return the machine to its original state.

Returnil System Safe 2011 Free is compatible with both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows systems. As a value added bonus, Returnil System Safe 2011 Free incorporates an Anti-malware and Anti-spyware component.

Installation is uncomplicated and should run error free. All of the following screen captures can be expanded to the original size, by clicking on the graphic.

Pay particular attention to the registration screen. Should you choose not to register the application, certain product features will not be available past 30 days.

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If you plan on continuing to run the application past the 30 day mark, it seems sensible to register. Registration will be confirmed as per the following screen shot.

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Setting the Virus Guard real-time protection is simple and straightforward.

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You will have the option of automatically starting the application on Windows startup but, I caution against this. Once the application is running, any changes (including downloads, for example, cannot be saved). You will, of course, be guided by your own needs.

The following screen capture explains this restriction.

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Instead of an autostart, launch the application manually as needed – surfing the Web, for example.

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Fast facts:

  Overall Product

  • New an improved interface
  • Clear protection status of your system
  • Manage main features from one screen

Virus Guard (Anti-malware and Anti-spyware)

  • Real-time protection – define your own shield sensitivity
  • Quick Scan – light on resources and effective
  • Full Scan – thorough scan of pre-defined areas on your computer
  • Scan is dynamically adjustable to user workload (less resource intensive)

Virtual Mode

  • Protect your system – Virtualize it!
  • Virtual Mode Always On or just in current session
  • Ability to save files via File Manager (paid version only)
  • Powerful anti-execute protection

System Restore (System Rollback)

  • Repair infections with ease
  • Restore your system to a previously known/clean state
  • Recover individual infected files
  • Do not ever worry about losing your data

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008,  Windows 7 (all – 32 and 64-bit).

Supported Languages: English, German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), Russian, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Polish, Bulgarian, Finnish.

Download at: Download.com

Overall assessment:

Compared to previous free versions of Returnil, this version suffers from a major lack of functionality – with the focus primarily directed towards a user upgrade. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that of course – that’s marketing. But, this market driven position ignores the fact that free competitive products offer more substantial features and benefits.

If you’re looking for a free virtualization application that offers a reasonably complete solution, then you should consider Free BufferZone Pro. You can read a full review here – Free BufferZone Pro – Maybe The Best Surfing Virtualization Application At Any Price

Update: July 1, 2011

Mike Wood, from Returnil, has clarified a number of issues in the response which follows:

Thanks for the review and write up. All feedback is welcomed and yours has been taken into account for future versions. Some feedback on a couple of things in the article:

1. “… this version suffers from a major lack of functionality “: In the older RVS 2010 versions, the Virus Guard was limited to Quick Scans only. We changed this in the 3.2x versions to include Full System scans in RSS Free. We also provide updates via the Cloud feature that are based on the unknown/malicious file and behavior data collection and server side analysis in our own engine/AI tech. RSS Free does have some limitations as far as premium features are concerned, but that is actually only for the System Restore and File Manager/Access Real disk features. The latter centers around being able to save content to the real System partition while in Virtual Mode and the former is centered on the additional tools we provide to the native Windows Shadow Copy service used for the SR feature.

Those using the Free version can still save content and data to disk; the key is in where that data is stored. In the free version you can still save content to non-system disks/partitions and also have access to the Virtual Disk which can be used as a convenience for those with single partition rigs (only a C:\ drive for example).

The features in the System Restore in the paid versions includes automatic antimalware scanning of restore points and backups prior to implementation as well as the ability to recover files from the previous machine state following a restore. Another feature of the SR is that it can monitor all forms of backups and will list them in the Full Restore option when activated so they can be scanned for malicious content as described above.

2. The discussion of layered security approaches: RSS Pro was designed from the outset to be a vertical layered security approach in a single application where each component part works to not only provide its core functionality, but also to cover the weaknesses in the other component parts. As the free version does have some feature limitations, it is more appropriately placed as a team player in a larger layered strategy that the user is implementing with an ability to cover System level virtualization (as opposed to BZ’s application layer approach), complimentary antimalware, and anti-execute so you can reduce the overall number of other security applications you need to make said strategy work.

The paid version takes this a step further and allows the user to have a layered strategy in a one-stop package that can reduce the need for additional programs in the mix other than a good firewall solution.

With Kind regards,

Mike

Returnil Support

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Malware Protection, Safe Surfing, Software, System File Protection, Virtualization, Windows Tips and Tools

ZoneAlarm Pro 10 – Free Today Only!

image Check Point Software will once again offer a free (a $40 value), one day only, download of their highly rated flagship product, ZoneAlarm Pro. This free offer will also include a one year subscription to updates, support, and services.

Note: The offer is valid from 6am PST 10/13/09 – 6am PST 10/14/09.

I recall that the last free offer from Check Point Software (November 2008), was extremely popular, so get there early and avoid getting caught in server overload.

Fast facts:

Powerful multi-layered security and protection

Operating System Firewall

Network Firewall

Program Firewall

Anti-Spyware, Identity Theft Protection

Simple to install (step-by-step installation wizard gets you up and running quickly)

Easy to use (color-coded guides and secure “out of the box” settings)

Triple Defense Firewall protects against hackers and spyware

Anti-Spyware scans for and removes spyware

SmartDefense service keeps your security updated with the latest Internet threat information

ID and Privacy Protection

Email Security which detects and quarantines malicious email attachments

Automatic Wireless Security which detects and secures wireless networks

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System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download at: Zone Alarm

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Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Firewalls, Free Full Versions, Interconnectivity, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Need Spyware, Virus, and Browser Protection? – Free Solutions

Searching out, downloading, and installing free security programs from the Internet may appear to be a “no brainer”, given the vast quantity of such programs out there in the wild blue of the Internet.

The problem, as I see it, for the casual computer user, is not the availability of these programs, but which ones work; which ones have a deserved reputation for quality and functionality.

I’ve been involved in system and Internet security for many years, and I have tested the following recommended applications and their updates over those years for reliability, functionality, and quality. These programs have a strong and loyal following that is well deserved.

Anti-virus software:

avast! Home Edition

This anti virus app is a real fighter, scanning files on demand and on access, including email attachments. Let’s you know when it detects mal-ware through its shield function. An important feature is a boot-time scan option which removes mal-ware that can’t be remove any other way.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition

AVG Anti-Virus Free now incorporates protection against spyware through a new combined anti-virus and anti-spyware engine as well as a “safe-searching component” which has been incorporated into the new AVG Internet Security Toolbar. This program scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule and scans email incoming and outgoing.

Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic

This anti-virus program offers comprehensive protection with an easy to use interface. In the eight months I have been testing Avira I have been impressed with its performance, and I have come to rely on it as my primary anti-virus program. I highly recommend this one.

Anti Spyware Software:

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition from PC Tools is an excellent choice, as a secondary line of defense. This free version of the award winning program, with its easy to use interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers; it’s reported there are a million+ additional downloads every week. Be aware however, there is no real-time protection offered with this version and this is the reason I recommend this application as a secondary scanner only.

Spyware Terminator

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative.

Internet Browser Protection:

SpywareBlaster

SpywareBlaster prevents ActiveX-based spyware, adware, dialers, and browser hijackers from installing on your system by disabling the CLSIDs (a system used by software applications to identify a file or other item), of spyware ActiveX controls. A secondary but equally important function offered by SpywareBlaster, is its ability to block spyware/tracking cookies and restrict the actions of spyware/adware/tracking sites in Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, Netscape, Seamonkey, Flock and other browsers.

Since SpywareBlaster doesn’t scan for or clean spyware, but as stated earlier, prevents installation only, you should use it in combination with Spybot Search & Destroy and/or Ad-Aware, in addition to your normal anti-malware security applications to gain the maximum amount of protection.

Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive and well deserved reputation. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Adware Protection Software:

Ad-Aware – Anniversary Edition

In my view, Ad-Aware Free is the best free adware remover available. It does a good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. The only downside with the free version; real-time protection is not included.

Firewalls:

Comodo Firewall Pro

The definitive free firewall, Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I have been using this application for 10 months and I continue to feel very secure. It resists being forcibly terminated and it works as well, or better, than any firewall I’ve paid for. This is one I highly recommend. Amazing that it’s free!

PC Tools Firewall Plus

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

ZoneAlarm Basic Firewall

The free version of ZoneAlarm lacks the features of ZoneAlarm Pro’s firewall. Its program control asks you regularly whether to allow programs; for some this can be intrusive and annoying. But it’s been around forever it seems, and it can’t be shut down, or out, by mal-ware.

Additional System Protection:

WinPatrol

Do you want to get a better understanding of what programs are being added to your computer? Then WinPatrol is the program for you. With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs. You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

HiJackFree

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then 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.

HijackThis

HijackThis is a free utility by Trend Micro which heuristically scans your computer to find settings that may have been changed by homepage hijackers, spyware, other malware, or even unwanted programs.

This application has a well deserved reputation for being aggressive in tracking down unauthorized changes that have been made to your system/applications.

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, or log file, with the results of the scan.

Because of the heuristic methods (behavior analysis), used by HijackThis, the results of the scan can be confusing/intimidating to those who are not advanced users. On the other hand, the strength of this program lies in the large community of users who participate in online forums, where experts (voluntarily and for free), will interpret HijackThis scan results for you, and then provide you with the information you need to clean any infection.

Despite the fact that you may only need this small application infrequently, it deserves a place in your anti-malware toolbox.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. Highly recommend this one!

SnoopFree Privacy Shield

SnoopFree Privacy Shield is a powerful application that guards your keyboard, screen and open windows from all spy software on Windows XP. I have been using this application for quite some time, and I have been amazed at the number of programs that have requested access to my keyboard and screen. In particular, programs that I am in the process of installing. If you’re serious about privacy, this is a must have addition to your security toolbox.

Sandboxie

Surfing the Internet without using Sandboxie is, to me, like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. Deadly! This application creates a “Sandboxed” protected environment on your machine within which you browse the net. Data that is written to your hard drive is simply eliminated, (or not, your choice), when the sandbox is closed.

Utilizing this application allows you to surf the web without the risk of infecting your system with mal-ware or other nasties. This is another security application I have been using for over a year and it has yet to let me down.

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.

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.

Good luck and safe surfing.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Online Safety, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

How Low Can You Go? – ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite $9.95 on April 14 – Twenty Four Hours Only

ZoneAlarm logo Twice in the last year, Check Point Software, the developers of the popular ZoneAlarm Firewall has had free specials on offer.

ForceField and ZoneAlarm Pro, both of which are highly rated flagship products could be had on a free, one day only, download.

Now comes news that on April 14, 2009, Check Point will offer their highly regarded ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite for $9.95. This offer will only be available beginning at 6:00am PDT on April 14, and will run for 24 hours only.

In keeping with its “good corporate citizen image”, Check Point will donate half of the proceeds to TechSoup Global, “a nonprofit organization devoted to making technology and technology education available and affordable to other nonprofits and libraries all over the world.”

I recall the last free or reduced price offer from Check Point was extremely popular, so get there early and avoid getting caught in server overload.

To save a bundle on this bundle checkout Check Point Software’s special promotion page.

ZoneAlarm Free April 2009

From the Check Point Software site:

Firewall: Proactively protects against inbound, outbound, and program attacks while making you invisible to hackers.

Inbound & Outbound – monitors and blocks threat traffic in either direction.

Full Stealth Mode – makes you invisible to hackers.

Kill Controls – instantly disable malicious programs.

Passes Independent Leak Tests* – to verify complete blocking, see test results.

Antivirus: Award-winning antivirus stops, blocks, and removes attacks before they infect your PC.

Advanced Antivirus Engine – deliver the broadest and deepest protection that stops malicious software that other systems ignore.

New Scan Modes – run faster, deeper, and provide customization options.

Kernel-Level Virus Prevention – protects at the operating system level.

Fastest Updating Signature List – detects and stops even the most recent viruses that others miss.

Inbound and Outbound MailSafe – quarantines suspicious attachments, stops harmful messages before viruses transmit to your computer.

Anti-Spyware: Award-winning anti-spyware automatically prevents, blocks, and removes spyware.

Spy Site Blocking – prevents accidental visits and malicious communication with spyware sites.

Kernel-Level Spyware Prevention – protects at the operating system level.

Dual-Engine Scan – catches certain kinds of spyware like adware that others ignore

Fastest Updating Signature List – detects and stops even the most recent spyware.

Total ID Theft Protection: Uniquely combines offline ID protection services with online PC-based technologies to stop thieves from stealing your identity.

PC-Based ID Protection – utilizes a combination of anti-spyware and web browser security to block, remove, and disable programs designed to steal your identity.

Daily Credit Monitoring – monitors your credit reports daily with email alerts and reports, and notifies you if there have been changes, which is often an indication of identity theft (US only).

Fraud Alerts & Monthly Reports – provided to you.

Victim Recovery Service – provides free telephone counseling to guide ID theft victims through resolution and recovery (US only).

Additional Layers: Integrates multiple layers of advanced protection for unsurpassed security.

Anti-Spam, Anti-Phishing – filters out annoying and potentially dangerous spam.

Parental Control – filters and blocks inappropriate websites in over 30 categories; scans uncategorized websites to determine appropriateness.

Wireless PC Protection – automatically detects wireless networks and secures your PC from hackers’ threats wherever you’re connected – at home or on the road.

Privacy Protection – manages and blocks pop-up ads, online profiling, cookies, and cache.

SmartDefense™ Service – provides real-time security updates, quick response to breaking threats, and leverages threat data from the vast community of users to protect your PC from the latest attacks.

Fast, Safe, & Easy: New interface delivers a simple overview, One-Click “Fix It” buttons, and customization controls for more advanced users.

One-Click Fix It Interface – provides simple overview, 1-button fix if security is off, and easy access to instant upgrades and updates.

Millions of Programs Pre-Set – automatically configures security settings for millions of programs.

Auto-Learn Mode – automatically configures security settings based on your behavior so you don’t have to.

Game Mode – one-click control temporarily suppresses most security alerts and prevents them from interrupting your fun while maintaining protection for your PC.

My Zone – hosts additional security tools, helpful information, and support including LiveChat so you can easily get the most out of your ZoneAlarm products.

Free Upgrades & Online Customer Support for 12 months from date of installation.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Hacked, rootkits, Safe Surfing, Windows Tips and Tools

The Enemy is at the Gate – Common Sense Tips for Internet and System Security

commonsense 3 So what can you add to your computer’s Firewall, Security Applications, and Browser security add-ons to ensure you have the best protection available while you’re surfing the web?

Well, how about something that’s free, and readily available. Something called “Common Sense”.

Common sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Common Sense Tip #1 – Given the virtual epidemic of malware currently circulating on the Internet, don’t run, or install programs, of unknown origin.

Internet users’ continue to be bombarded with rogue security software which has reached epidemic proportions. There seems to be no end to the release of new rogue security software threats. Rogue software will often install and use a Trojan horse to download a trial version, or it will perform other actions on a machine that are detrimental such as slowing down the computer drastically.

Download applications, particularly free programs, only from verifiably safe sites (sites that guarantee malware free downloads), such as Download.com, MajorGeeks, Softpedia, and the like.

There are many more safe download sites available, but be sure you investigate the site thoroughly before you download anything. Googling the site, while not always entirely reliable, is a good place to start. A recommendation from friends as to a site’s safety is often a more appropriate choice.

Common Sense Tip #2 – Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources. It’s been estimated that 96% of emails are spam. While not all spam is unsafe, common sense dictates that you treat it as if it is.

Much of the spam emails I’ve seen lately are crafted around spicy, scandalous, and salacious stories. This is generally a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a risky email.

Here’s a recent email from my inbox – “Who to blame in world crisis?‎ – Ivanka Trump sunbathing pics http://www.000000.com”. Common sense tells me there is a major disconnect between the heading of this email (Who to blame in world crisis?) and sunbathing pics of Ivanka Trump. There is no doubt that this is a dodgy email. By the way her name is Ivana, not Ivanka.

Common Sense Tip #3 – Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin. If the link has been sent to you in a forwarded email from a friend, be particularly cautious. Forwarded emails are notorious for containing dangerous elements, and links.

Common Sense Tip #4 – Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them in the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Common Sense Tip #5 – If you do not use a web based email service then be sure your anti-virus software scans all incoming e-mail and attachments.

Common Sense Tip #6 – 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.

adeona with locks

If you are unsure if your software based protection is up to the task then checkout the following recommended free downloads that will help you manage and protect your computer system.

These applications have been well tested over the years for reliability and functionality, and all have developed a strong, loyal following.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition

AVG Anti-Virus Free 8.0 now incorporates protection against spyware through a new combined anti-virus and anti-spyware engine as well as a “safe-searching component” which has been incorporated into the new AVG Internet Security Toolbar. This program scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule and scans email incoming and outgoing. For those on Vista, you’re in luck, it’s Vista-ready

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition from PC Tools is an excellent choice, as a secondary line of defense. This free version of the award winning program, with its easy to use interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers; it’s reported there are a million+ additional downloads every week. Be aware however, there is no real-time protection offered with this version and this is the reason I recommend this application as a secondary scanner only.

Spyware Terminator

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative.

Comodo Firewall Pro

Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I have been using this application for 10 months and I continue to feel very secure. It resists being forcibly terminated and it works as well, or better, than any firewall I’ve paid for. This is one I highly recommend. Amazing that it’s free!

HiJackFree

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then 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.

Ad-Aware

Ad-Aware Free is good free spyware and adware remover. It does a good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. The only downside with the free version; real-time protection is not included.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. Highly recommend this one!

Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

SnoopFree Privacy Shield

SnoopFree Privacy Shield is a powerful application that guards your keyboard, screen and open windows from all spy software. I have been using this application for quite some time, and I have been amazed at the number of programs that have requested access to my keyboard and screen. In particular, programs that I am in the process of installing. If you’re serious about privacy, this is a must have addition to your security toolbox.

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Filed under Adware, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Computer Security – Time to Think About It

Here we are getting ready for the holiday season, once again. For many of us it’s a wonderful time of the year, full of memories of previous Christmases, and great anticipation for all the good things to come.

During the last holiday season, like many of you, I took the opportunity to get together with family and friends. As so often happens on these occasions, I got quizzed on everyones, it seems to me, least favorite computer related topic; the state of computer security.

These informal “question and answer” gabfests are important to me, since they are a good way to stay in the loop of real world computing experienced by typical users, and not just the esoteric world of the typical “geeky” user.

At that time, some intriguing statistics had just been released from a survey which had been developed by the National Cyber Security Alliance, and security firm McAfee.

driveby-download-todays2

The overriding conclusion from the survey was: typical computer users are in need of a “reality check” when it comes to home computer security. Based on my own experiences, I believe this survey does not overstate the case and in fact, additional studies done in the last few months of this year seem to indicate the “security knowledge gap”, continues to widen.

The McAfee/NCSA study found that while 98 percent of computer users agree that having up-to-date security software is important for system security, a significant number of the survey respondents had computers with security software that was incomplete, or dangerously out of date.

Highlights of the survey:

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed believed their anti-virus software was up to date, but in fact, only 51 % had updated their anti-virus software within the previous week.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed believed they had a firewall installed and enabled, yet only 64 % actually did.

Approximately 70 % of PC users believed they had anti-spyware software, but only 55 % actually had it installed.

Twenty five percent of survey participants believed they had anti-phishing software, but only 12 % actually had the software.

Where do you fit in all this?

Most of us now store a large volume of confidential personal information on our home computers, including information concerning our personal finances, taxes, health, and perhaps personal documentation of other types.

So, it may well be that we need to take the time to survey our computers to insure that all relevant security applications have been installed, are up to date, and are operating correctly.

One of the better applications that will produce a survey of your computer is Belarc Advisor which can be reviewed and downloaded, if you choose, from this Blog. As well, consider downloading and installing Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) which constantly monitors your system for insecure software installations, and notifies you when an insecure application is installed.

If you need to update, or add, additional security applications to your computer, then checkout The Best Free Spyware, Virus and Browser Protection, on this site for reviews and free security application downloads.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Computer Audit Applications, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Caution – Trend Micro’s HouseCall Spoofed

The Internet is increasingly like the Wild West – at least the Wild West we’re use to seeing portrayed in the movies.

The strong, fast with a six shooter, secure tough hombres (read – informed), survive; while the weak, the insecure and the unarmed, (read – uninformed), get their butts kicked. Once again we have a situation where this scenario is likely to play out.

In the last six months or so, I have focused primarily on Internet security issues on this Blog, with a particular emphasis on the massive number of rogue security applications flooding the web.

Since not all security scanners are equal, or 100% effective, I have recommended, in a number of articles, that online scanners are a viable alternative to installed malware scanners as a double check to ensure computer systems are free of malware infections. One of the scanners I have always recommended is, Trend Micro’s HouseCall.

Cyber-criminals, not satisfied with exploiting installable malware scanners, are now trying to exploit Trend Micro’s free online scanner HouseCall. The uninformed Internet user is, once again, the primary target of these cyber-criminals.

According to  Trend Micro, a surfer using a search engine such as Google, with a search string such as, “free online virus scan by Trend Micro”, can end up on a spoofed version of  HouseCall by clicking the link returned by Google. Not surprisingly, the spoofed site informs users their computers are infected with malware, and then teases them to purchase a fake anti-virus application in order to remove the fake threat.

Regular visitors to this site are aware of the substantial threat posed by rogue security application. For more information on this issue, checkout “ Rogue Security Software on the Rise – What You Need to Know Now!” on this site.

Trend Micro advises all users to go to their website home page directly for product information and services, instead of clicking on links to individual pages brought up by search engines. This advice should, in fact, be followed for all searches.

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Online Spyware/Virus Scanners, Rogue Software, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security