Tag Archives: antispyware

Microsoft Security Essentials –“Here I Come To Save The Day”

imageOh, the embarrassment of it all! I haven’t had to deal with a malware issue (other than self infecting in AV product testing), for more than 2 years – until this past week. No big deal, except perhaps, for the way I got infected – that old, old, old, malware attack vector – an infected search engine result.

The manipulation of search engine results, exploiting legitimate pages, and the seeding of malicious websites among the top results returned by search engines in order to infect users with malware, continues to be a major threat to system security. And, why not? It bloody well works!

Over the years, I’ve written more than a few articles on search engine malware – the last – Search Engine Malware – The Same Old, Same Old – this past August.

From that article:

Here’s how the cyber crooks do it:

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.

When a potential victim visits one of these infected sites the likelihood of the downloading of malicious code onto the computer by exploiting existing vulnerabilities is high.

So there I was, happily bouncing along the Internet highway Googling a phrase I had read on another blog. Choosing the first Google return proved to be a very bad idea indeed, since I immediately stepped into an infected iFrame.

But thankfully, all was not lost – Microsoft Security Essentials (which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection), halted the malware – Trojan:JS/BlacoleRef.K – in its tracks!

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So what’s the lesson here?

A couple really – AV settings are very important. In this case, as per the following screen shot – nothing moves into, or out of this machine, without being scanned. Microsoft Security Essentials makes it so simple – no esoteric choices.

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The second lesson – a MOST important lesson – absolutely, positively, without fail, come hell or high water, ensure that AV definitions are updated at least daily. Preferably, more often.

You might be surprised to learn, that on the day I stumbled, while MSE recognized the intruder, the vast majority of AVs did not – as per the following VirusTotal report (partially reproduced here).

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Since it was preposterous to assume that MSE had in fact eradicated the Trojan (paranoia has its upside don’t you know?    Smile), I then ran a full scan with Kaspersky Rescue Disk – a free Linux-based antimalware application (a live CD), which scans from the outside looking in. Malware generally can’t hide if it’s not running.

The result? The Kaspersky Rescue Disk scan was clean. MSE had in fact, sent Trojan:JS/BlacoleRef.K to malware hell. Yes!!

I suppose there’s one more lesson that can be dug out of this experience, and that is – those tech journalists who absolutely insist that “pay for” antimalware applications are superior to all free AVs (often, without ever having tested the damn product in real world conditions), should take a step back and reconsider their speculative approach to antimalware application ratings.

Worth repeating: Despite the fact that I’m provided with a free license for all the security applications I test (and then some), I have chosen to run with the following FREE  applications.

Microsoft Security Essentials (free) – an all-in-one antimalware application.

Immunet Protect – a free Cloud based companion antimalware application.

ThreatFire (free) – this application is built around a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), and behavior based blocking combination.

WinPatrol (free) – another HIPS application with considerable additional functionality. WinPatrol is the elder statesman of this application class and, it just keeps on getting better. A must have application.

PC Tools Firewall Plus (free) – PC Tools Firewall Plus is advanced Firewall technology designed for typical users, not just experts.  The “plus” refers to a HIPS component. Generally, if the ThreatFire HIPS component is triggered on my machine, PC Tools Firewall Plus is triggered as well.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Crime, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Immunet Protect, Microsoft, Software, trojans, Windows Tips and Tools

Protect Your Bits With BitDefender Internet Security 2011

imageIf it’s true that 50% of computer users run without adequate security protection, as some statistics indicate, then I can understand why. Given the complexity of a typical anti-malware product in both setup and operation, it’s little wonder that many users throw up their hands in frustration.

To be sure, computer security is a complex issue, but that shouldn’t mean that the average end user of a security application, needs to be exposed to a labyrinth of choices in either application setup, or in monitoring activity.

It’s hard to overstate the fact that typical computer users require a simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface in order to get the most out of a security suite, and BitDefender’s Internet Security 2011 breaks new ground here. More on this later.

By combining an efficient Firewall, an Antivirus engine, an Antispyware engine, Spam filtering, a parental control system, privacy control, home network and game/laptop modes – BitDefender has built a suite of applications that provides powerful protection.

Taken together, the components provide excellent protection from hackers, cybercriminals, unauthorized software, network attacks, and more.

The application is straightforward to setup, customize, and run – as the following screen captures illustrate. (Click on any graphic to enlarge).

Following installation the application automatically runs a quick scan to ensure the system is clean prior to setup completion.

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Very cool! No malware found on the test system.

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BitDefender’s Internet Security 2011 is all about simple initial choices – average users can sit back and allow the application to choose the most appropriate settings.  Sophisticated users, on the other hand, can get their hands dirty.

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The user has an opportunity to choose a simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface, rather than the more complex intermediate, or expert mode. When I installed this application, I did so with 10 average users in attendance – each one agreed that the “Basic View”, would be the most appropriate for their needs.

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The additional tools menu is push button simple, as the following screen shot indicates.

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On the completion of the installation, a summary of installed application modules is provided.

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Finally, a guided tour is a helpful tool which makes it easy for an average user to become familiar with the application.

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Fast facts:

Firewall

Antivirus & Antispyware

Antispam

Anti-phishing

Chat Encryption

Identity protection and privacy controls

Parental Control

Family Network Protection – Home network monitor

Smart Scan

Quick Scan

Smart Schedule

Smart Help

Smart Sense

System requirements: Windows XP SP3, Vista (SP1), Wind 7 (both 32 bit and 64 bit).

Note: Recommended hardware –

  • CPU: Intel CORE Duo (1.66 GHz) or equivalent processor
  • Memory (RAM):
  • 1 GB (Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows 7)
  • 1.5 GB (Microsoft Windows Vista)

Having tested this application on a number of machines, I suggest you don’t install this application unless your computer meets, or exceeds, these requirements.

Download 30 day trial version at: BitDefender

Purchase product at: BitDefender (3 PCs for 1 year $49.95).

A personal note: BitDefender is one of my favorite security providers, since it offers a bevy of free virus removal tools, as well as a number of free specialty security tools.

A final word: Choosing a security application correctly depends on a number of variables including – how you use a computer on the Internet. In the final analysis though, the application should simply work –  unobtrusively and silently, with a minimum of fuss and bother – without presenting complex questions that average users simply can’t grasp.

Overall, BitDefender Internet Security 2011 handles this issue very well, and its overall detection and malware removal rates, place it in the top tier of security applications.

A word of caution here regarding tests carried out by antimalware labs. By and large, these tests are one time “snap shots”, and are not always indicative of an applications strengths, or weaknesses. Applications tend to change relative positions based on these tests, very often.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Antimalware Suites, BitDefender, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Malware Protection, Software, Software Trial Versions, spam, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Round Two: Download Next Generation Microsoft Security Essentials In Beta

image Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft last year as a free  replacement application for Windows Live OneCare. MSE was initially released in June 2009 in Beta, which was replaced by the final release in September 2009.

Microsoft has just released a Beta for the second generation Security Essentials, which includes a number of substantial additional features (see the following), and thankfully, a faster engine.

Note: This is a limited beta available in English (U.S.), Israel, and Brazilian Portuguese (the beta will also be available in China in Simplified Chinese later this year), and is available to genuine Windows users on a first come, first serve basis, until the allotted spots for the beta have been reached.

What’s New in the Microsoft Security Essentials beta?

This Beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials includes these new features and enhancements to better help protect your computer from threats.

Windows Firewall integration: Microsoft Security Essentials setup allows you to turn on Windows Firewall.

Enhanced protection from web-based threats: Microsoft Security Essentials has enhanced integration with Internet Explorer which helps prevent malicious scripts from running and provides improved protection against web based attacks.

New and improved protection engine: The updated engine offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities and better performance.

Installation was not straight forward. Since I was running the final release as my primary AV, the installer attempted to perform an upgrade. Bad idea! It simply did not work, and caused some cleanup issues I had to deal with.

After cleaning up the mess, I uninstalled the prior version using my trusty Revo Uninstaller, and then did a successful clean install rather than an upgrade.

I heard it through the grapevine that I’m not alone in having run into this upgrade issue. So, if you have MSE installed, uninstall first, and then perform a clean install of the new Beta.

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This new Microsoft Security Essentials Beta just like the final release is easy to set up and run, (on a clean install), particularly for new users. And, the interface is positively simple offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan.

A simple command interface:

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A simple scan result screen – in this case a “clean” result:

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A simple settings/options screen. If you have been running the generation one final version, you find a number of impressive changes here.

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Overall impressions:

Microsoft Security Essentials, including this Beta release, is a no cost viable alternative to overhyped, and often overpriced, more familiar security applications.

A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes Microsoft Security Essentials straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a first class security application; fast, efficient, and effective – particularly with the additional features in the Beta release.

Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Very few “free” security applications, provide full real time protection which makes such an application valuable, only as an on-demand secondary scanner.

The second generation Beta, is definitely worth a close look.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Vista x64, Win 7, Win 7 x64.

Download at: The Microsoft Connect Page (registration required).

Windows XP users: Please note that the network inspection system feature will not be enabled on Windows XP. The network inspection system requires the Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) in order to run, and WFP is available only in Windows Vista and Windows 7. However, if you are running Windows XP, you can still use all other beta features.

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Filed under Beta Software, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Microsoft, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

No Bull! BullGuard Internet Security 9.0 Shines

image There are so many antimalware products in the market place, that I find it virtually impossible to keep track of them all. So when I was asked recently, to take a look at BullGuard Internet Security, my first though was – WHO?

After taking a closer look, I’m glad I did. With 10 million users BullGuard Internet Security is no newcomer to the antimalware market. And, it shows. BullGuard offers a well though out, and highly functional suite of antimalware tools – including a built-in Firewall.

BullGuard has taken a page out of my own book when they say “We don’t confuse our customers with functionality and information they don’t need, or questions they can’t answer …… you don’t really care how it works, you just want to know that it does work, and then leave the technical stuff to us”. Hmm, an antimalware company that finally gets it!

Installation:

Surprisingly, given the large number of built-in features, the installation process was relatively fast and efficient.

Setup:

Bullguard Internet Security’s wizard driven setup is easy to follow, making setup a breeze.

User Interface:

Each of the suite’s components is arranged in an inline button configuration, as the following screen captures illustrate. Pushing a button gives access to a familiar tab based interface – easy, straight forward, and efficient.

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Fast facts:

Antivirus: Give computer viruses like Trojans and worms no chance.

Antispyware: Protect yourself from identity theft and online fraud. Protect your computer from unwanted intruders like hackers.

Antiphishing: Get web pages and e-mails authenticated, so you can surf, shop, and bank safely online.

Spamfilter: Keep your inbox clean from junk mail and phishing attempts.

Firewall – Protect your PC from unwanted intruders like hackers.

Backup: Includes 5 GB online backup for your valued files, photos and music.

Support: Free 24/7 support when you need it.

User-friendliness: User interface and installation so easy, anyone can use it.

Game Mode: Fast but safe game fun with minimal resource consumption.

Instant Message Protection: Interact and exchange files over IM programs like MSN, Yahoo and Skype.

Available Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP (SP2)

Download a 60 day trial at: BullGuard

Download size: 106 MB

Purchase price: $59.95 USD (3-PC license).

If ease of use is a primary consideration, take advantage of the generous 60 day trial period, and give yourself some time to determine if BullGuard Internet Security is right for you.

Update: Mike, has just advised that a 6 month trial for Version 8.5 – a single user; is available here.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Backup Tools, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Software, Software Trial Versions, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free Microsoft Security Essentials – You’ll be Glad You Did!

Today is the last day of a holiday weekend (Victoria Day – a celebration of our British heritage), here in Canada. So that yours truly can relax to the max, this article is a reposting of a previously published article.

image Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

I’ve been running Security Essentials for eight months, or so; first, as a beta tester, and now the final product, on my Win 7 machines. Backed up, of course, by Zemana AntiLogger, GeSWall, Immunet Protect,  and by my usual, on demand security applications, including Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware.

Testing this application under real world conditions, has reinforced my initial positive review of Microsoft Security Essentials.

So, I’ll just cut to the chase here:

Microsoft Security Essentials is a no cost viable alternative to overhyped, and often overpriced, more familiar security applications.

A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes Microsoft Security Essentials straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a first class security application; fast, efficient, and effective.

Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Very few “free” security applications, provide full real time protection which makes such an application valuable, only as an on-demand secondary scanner.

A simple command interface:

MS Security Essentials

A simple settings/options screen:

MS Security Essentials 2

A simple scan result screen – in this case a “clean” result:

MS Security Essentials 3

Or, a potential threat warning screen – following an injection, in this case, of a malware file:

image

Fast facts:

Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users.

The interface is positively simple offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan.

Scans all drives including removable drives, and creates a system restore point

Full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

The Dynamic Signature Service (DSS), a technology that helps ensure users are protected by the most current virus definitions available, without having to wait for the next scheduled download, is a major positive step for the average user.

Using DSS, Security Essentials validates suspicious files in near real time – a huge advantage for average users.

Actions from unknown sources such as unexpected network connections, attempts to modify privileged parts of the system or the downloading of known malware, all trigger requests for updates from DSS – another major advantage for the average user.

Runs unobtrusively in the background with an easy to understand warning system. Green – you’re good to go. Yellow – caution. Red – action required.

Very lightweight in terms of system resource usage – as opposed to some security applications that are well known resource hogs.

Malware identification and removal, in my experience, has been much better than average in real time extended testing, and not just in a 30 minute wonder test!

Quick scans are very fast, but full scans are slightly slower than average. However, if I’m infected, fast or slow is not a personal consideration – detection and removal of malware is.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Vista x 64, Win  7, Win 7 x64

Download at: Microsoft

Microsoft Security Essentials is a first class security application; fast, efficient, and effective. I highly recommend that you take a close look at this program.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Microsoft, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free KeyScrambler – Encrypt Your Internet Input

KeyScrambler Personal – A Must Have Browser Plug-in

Keylogger pic

This article was prompted by a situation one of my Blogging buddies ran into recently. Apparently, a friend of his was having a problem with his Internet connection, and major problems with his email sign-ins.

This problem, as it turned out, was a typical case of a compromised password – not a particularly unusual event. To ensure your passwords are as safe as you can make them, consider adding KeyScrambler Personal to your Browser.

KeyScrambler Personal is a free plug-in for FireFox, Internet Explorer, and Flock web browsers which protects all input you type into the browser, by encrypting your keystrokes at the kernel driver level.

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 malware that can expose you to financial risk 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.

KeyScrambler 2

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 can be 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 over a year and I feel more secure logging in than I once 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, Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), and Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit).

Download at: Download.com

Setting your password correctly is vitally important to ensure your safety and privacy, on the Internet. Read how to do this correctly by visiting TechPauls site, and taking a look at “A Word About Words — Passwords, That Is”, which includes a link to a freeware application which makes password management a snap.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Browser add-ons, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety Tools, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free Microsoft Security Essentials – Kill Malware DEAD!

image Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

I’ve been running Security Essentials for eight months, or so; first, as a beta tester, and now the final product, on my Win 7 machines. Backed up, of course, by my usual, on demand security applications, including Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware.

Testing this application under real world conditions, has reinforced my initial positive review of Microsoft Security Essentials.

So, I’ll just cut to the chase here:

Microsoft Security Essentials is a no cost viable alternative to overhyped, and often overpriced, more familiar security applications.

A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes Microsoft Security Essentials straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a first class security application; fast, efficient, and effective.

Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Very few “free” security applications, provide full real time protection which makes such an application valuable, only as an on-demand secondary scanner.

A simple command interface:

MS Security Essentials

A simple settings/options screen:

MS Security Essentials 2

A simple scan result screen – in this case a “clean” result:

MS Security Essentials 3

Or, a potential threat warning screen – following an injection, in this case, of a malware file:

image

Fast facts:

Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users.

The interface is positively simple offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan.

Scans all drives including removable drives, and creates a system restore point

Full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

The Dynamic Signature Service (DSS), a technology that helps ensure users are protected by the most current virus definitions available, without having to wait for the next scheduled download, is a major positive step for the average user.

Using DSS, Security Essentials validates suspicious files in near real time – a huge advantage for average users.

Actions from unknown sources such as unexpected network connections, attempts to modify privileged parts of the system or the downloading of known malware, all trigger requests for updates from DSS – another major advantage for the average user.

Runs unobtrusively in the background with an easy to understand warning system. Green – you’re good to go. Yellow – caution. Red – action required.

Very lightweight in terms of system resource usage – as opposed to some security applications that are well known resource hogs.

Malware identification and removal, in my experience, has been much better than average in real time extended testing, and not just in a 30 minute wonder test!

Quick scans are very fast, but full scans are slightly slower than average. However, if I’m infected, fast or slow is not a personal consideration – detection and removal of malware is.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Vista x 64, Win  7, Win 7 x64

Download at: Microsoft

Microsoft Security Essentials is a first class security application; fast, efficient, and effective. I highly recommend that you take a close look at this program.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

12 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Microsoft, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP