Tag Archives: XP

OPSWAT’s March 2012 Security Industry Market Share Analysis

imageWindows XP is dead-dead-dead. After all, Windows XP is a has-been in the world of operating systems – now 2+generations behind – and, eating dust. Or, so say all the pundits.

If you’re an XP user, as I am, then you can take some solace from OPSWAT’s latest quarterly report (released today), bolstered by more than 353,000 data points, which clearly shows Windows XP continues to hold substantial market share. In fact, according to OPSWAT’s data – Windows XP remains the most popular Windows operating system in both North America and worldwide, with slightly under half of computers using XP.

I’ll point out – I also run with Windows 7 and, Windows 8 Consumer Preview (a super system once one has crossed the “I have to learn some new stuff” barrier) – both of which are considerably safer overall than XP. So, I have no ax to grind – but, I do have an XP horse in the race. There’s little doubt of course, that XP will eventually disappear from the scene – but, not quite yet.

Windows 7, and rightfully so, continues to blaze ahead in the race to displace XP from its preeminent market position and, as shown in the following OPSWAT graphic, now commands better than 46% of the operating system market both in North America, and world wide. Windows Vista on the other hand, is barely on the horizon.

image

Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

Additionally, the OPSWAT report takes a close look at world wide and North American Antivirus vendors market share and, the gathered information in this latest report shows virtually no shift in market penetration from previous reports. In the world wide market place, the same Top 10 players, as expected, continue to hold substantial positions.

image

Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

In the North American marketplace, the same high penetration ratios exist although, the players shift position – with Symantec jumping into first position overall, from its sixth position worldwide.

image

Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

Microsoft, as shown in the following graphic, continues to gain ground with a fairly dramatic shift in growth.

image

As in previous OPSWAT reports, free security solutions remain at the top of the market with the highest numbers of installations. The top three products in North America, and worldwide, are available free for download.

OPSWAT’s analysis of the peer to peer application market share surprised me somewhat, since it showed LimeWire continuing to hold a market share -despite a court injunction prohibiting the use of the application, dated October 26, 2010.

On the other hand, there was no surprise in seeing µTorrent maintaining its lead over the competition in the public file sharing application market – as the following graphic indicates.

image

Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

The full report which is chock fill of absorbing statistics is available here.

So, who is OPSWAT?

If you’re a techie, then you’re very likely familiar with AppRemover, a free powerful anti-malware, antivirus application remover, and Metascan Online, a free online file scanner – both from OPSWAT. Beyond this direct connection however, you might not be familiar with OPSWAT.

From the site:

OPSWAT is the industry leader in software management SDKs, interoperability certification and multiple-engine scanning solutions. Our solutions are simplified and comprehensive, solving complex development problems to reduce time and costs for your engineering and testing teams.

OPSWAT offers software manageability solutions to streamline technology partnerships between leading technology solutions and software vendors. By enabling seamless compatibility and easy management capabilities, we make connecting your solutions with other software applications effortless.

Our innovative multi-scanning solutions deliver optimized anti-malware protection that increases detection rates without sacrificing performance with slow and cumbersome scans. Because no single anti-malware engine can catch every threat, we combine multiple engines to scan simultaneously, significantly improving the probability of detecting a threat.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under OPSWAT, Reports

GigaTribe Private P2P – Share Your Videos, Pics, And Docs Privately

image A few days ago, I ran a few tests on peer to peer downloads, on the off chance that things had improved in this malware infested playground. No such luck, of course.

Of the five game files that I downloaded, every one came packed with a Trojan downloader, which, had I installed any of these applications, would have wrecked havoc on my test machine.

In a nutshell, that’s the main problem with public peer to peer file sharing. The chances are high, that you will not get what you think you will, and you will get what you don’t think you will.

Additional issues (but not the only issues) are:

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share.

Spyware: There’s a chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove.

So what’s a fellow to do who enjoys file sharing, and who doesn’t want to be burned by the cybercriminals who skulk on public file sharing networks, searching for victims?

A terrific solution to this quandary is a free application from GigaTribe. An application which is designed to create a private network between you, and your friends, relatives, co-workers, or, whomever you choose.

If you have every used peer to peer software, then you’ll find no learning curve involved in using GigaTribe – it’s functional, efficient, attractive, and “follow the bouncing ball” intuitive.

How much more simply can it be than this:

GigaTribe

The following graphic is from the publisher’s site.

image

Fast facts:

GigaTribe has more than 1, 600,000 users.
Its unique technology has been developed by talented programmers with a strong history in the software industry.

There are no limitations on quantity or file size.
All your files are kept on your hard drive, eliminating the need to transfer them to an external server.

Files are available in their original format.
In just a few clicks, you can share and also find files as if you were in a virtual library. You will see files as they were organized on the hard drive, and you can download them in their original format.

You don’t waste time uploading files.
Once you select which folders you want to share, the contents of those folders are instantly accessible to your friends.

Your files remain yours!
Files you have decided to share are not saved on another company’s equipment. You keep your data under your control.

It´s a two-way sharing service.
Each contact can both share and download. You decide which content is worth downloading among the files available to you.

You may invite up to 500 friends.

Transfer automatically resumes.
If a download is interrupted (for example, if a contact goes offline), the transfer automatically resumes with no loss of data when your contact comes back online.

Security is, of course, GigaTribe´s major concern.

Only the people you have invited can see your files. Only the folders you have selected are visible to your contacts. Every exchange is strongly encrypted – No one can see what is being shared.

Downloads are encrypted (Blowfish 256-bit).

As an added bonus, users’ can create profiles, and have access to personal chat and a private blog, all from within the program. Now that’s cool!

According to the developers, GigaTribe (although I haven’t tested this), can also be used to access your PC from a remote location.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7. (no indication on the publisher’s site of x64 compatibility).

Languages: English, Español, Français, Deutsch, Italiano, Português

Download at: Gigatribe

It’s not often that I can rate an application 100%, but GigaTribe comes very close. A superb application! If you’re into private file sharing, or it’s something that you’ve considered, then give GigaTribe a whirl – I think you’ll be glad you did.

For additional information checkout the developer’s FAQ.

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.

6 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Networking, Peer to Peer, Privacy, social networking, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

TrueCrypt – Free Encryption To The Max

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

Some examples of how this might occur:

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

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

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

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

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

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

TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software application (one I have been using for years), for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volumes.

On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted, or decrypted, just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention.

image

image

TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or on 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.

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

Fast Facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mac OS X version

Graphical user interface for the Linux version of TrueCrypt

XTS mode of operation – XTS is faster and more secure than LRW

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

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

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

System Requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 bit), Mac OS X, and Linux

Download at: TrueCrypt

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.

7 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Encryption Software Alternatives, flash drive, Freeware, Open Source, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Is ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2010 The Best Firewall For You?

imageI’m always surprised when I get asked “The Firewall” question – why do I need one? The answer is always the same – a Firewall, either Hardware or Software, is designed to block unauthorized access to your computer from the Internet, at the same time permitting protected authorized communications – provided it includes outbound protection.

Most casual users that I come into contact with believe that Firewalls need to be expensive to ensure that they get the job none. But, that’s not always the case. ZoneAlarm, for example, is a very robust, uncomplicated, free Firewall, which is non- intrusive, and very appropriate for casual computer users – and gets the job done.

ZoneAlarm Free (last updated November 23rd, 2010), was the first Firewall I installed on a personal system, and that was back in the early days of Internet connectivity – 1996. After all these years, ZoneAlarm Free continues to be my all time favorite free Firewall.

Here’s why:

In my 14 years of experience with ZoneAlarm Free, never once has it let me down.

It’s the least intrusive free Firewall that I’m aware of – Firewalls that demand attention every 5 minutes drive me crazy!

It provides strong inbound intrusion detection, coupled with strong outbound protection. Outbound protection is an absolute “must have” today, since the botnet threat continues to escalate. ZoneAlarm will prohibit botnet connections.

ZoneAlarm’s “stealth mode” keeps my computer invisible on the Internet. If I can’t be seen by cybercriminals, my risk exposure is reduced substantially.

ZoneAlarm Free continuously monitors Internet activity through its True Vector Internet Monitor, and notifies me with an alert if it detects an unsafe, or disallowed activity.

Fast facts:

  • DefenseNet – Leverages real-time threat data from community of millions of users to detect and block the latest attacks.
  • Inbound Firewall Protection – Stops hackers and other intrusions by making your PC invisible online.
  • Outbound Firewall Protection – Blocks spyware, botnets, and other malware from sending your personal data out to the Internet.
  • Quiet and Automatic – Runs in the background, un-noticed and out of the way, with rare alerts.
  • Anti-phishing and Site Check – Toolbar blocks fraudulent websites including those that trick you into entering personal data.
  • Identity Guard – Provides credit scores and recovery services to secure your identity online and offline.
  • Works with all Antivirus – Compatible with antivirus software, such as AVG and Norton Antivirus.

What you need to know:

image

The program settings screen is definitely new user friendly, as the following graphic illustrates.

image

The graphic below illustrates  a security popup since a new application is seeking first time access to the Internet. Users have the opportunity to allow, disallow, and with a checkbox tick, have ZoneAlarm automatically remember the response.

image

The activity log can be particularly valuable for more experienced users.

image

ZoneAlarm’s default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users particularly – and despite the hype put out by media, most computer user can be classified as having limited system experience.

Experienced users on the other hand, can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

If you are a casual computer user, ZoneAlarm Free is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

The following graphic illustrates ZoneAlarm’s protection details, on one of my systems, over a 60 day period.

image

System Requirements: Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit ), Vista, XP SP2 or SP3.

Download at: the developer’s site (Check Point Software).

Note: Test your existing Firewall at Steve Gibson’s site – ShieldsUP! If your current Firewall is not in stealth mode (this test will confirm it), and if it can’t be forced into stealth mode, then you should consider changing your Firewall application.

Note: If you are currently running Windows Firewall, then installation and setup is a breeze since you have the opportunity to turn off this Firewall. On the other hand, if you are running another Firewall, it’s important that you uninstall
this application (use the applications built-in uninstaller), before installing ZoneAlarm Free. I mention this as a precaution only, since it’s as likely that you won’t encounter any difficulties. But……..

If your current Firewall does not include a built-in uninstaller, then use Revo Uninstaller which will delete the application including the applicable Registry entries.

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.

17 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Software, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Dell KACE Free Virtual Disk Utility

imageDell KACE is currently offering a free Virtual Disk Utility for creating, mounting and dismounting Virtual Disks on Windows, MacOSX and other kinds of computers.

Dell KACE uses a rather neat analogy when defining a Virtual Disk Drive – “A Virtual Disk might be compared and contrasted with a USB “thumb” drive. Both are removable media containing directories and files that can be added to a system when needed, updated locally and removed when no longer needed”. For example, I often use Virtual Disks in testing.

Program files, data files, and application directory structures can all be stored on a Virtual Disk Drive and with KACE’s Virtual Disk Utility, you will have the opportunity to both  encrypt, and password protect, the Virtual Drives which you have created. Keep in mind this application creates Virtual Disks – not Virtual Machines

Following installation, the screen shots which follow, illustrate just how easy it is to set up a Virtual Disk with KACE’s Virtual Disk Utility.

I should point out that in normal operation, you would launch the Virtual Disk Utility by selecting the application from the Windows Start Menu; then simply follow the same series of choices. (There are additional methods for Virtual Disk creation, discussed later in this review).

image

As I mentioned earlier, Virtual Disks you create can be encrypted so as to restrict mounting a Virtual Drive to only those users who can provide the correct password.

image

As the following screen capture illustrates, you will have a wide range of choices in picking a drive letter.

image

When finished, an Explorer window will open to show the initial contents of the new Virtual Disk and MyComputer windows will display the mounted drive. You can drag-n-drop files as you normally would, to the new Virtual Disk, launch applications, and open additional Explorer windows via MyComputer while the drive is mounted.

image

Through the Properties tab you can adjust the characteristics of the Virtual Drive.

image

Optionally, you can quickly set up a Virtual Drive (or, more than one Virtual Drive), by selecting a folder on any drive, and then create the drive from within Windows Explorer context menu.

image

Additionally, you can “dismount” a Virtual Drive from within the Windows Explorer context menu.

In this review, I’ve managed to cover only some of the features of this application. To read a more in-depth overview please read an Introduction to Virtual Disk, on the developer’s site.

System Requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, or Mac OS 10.5 or later (Windows 64 bit native installation available).

Download at: KACE (Registration is required).

Note: Additionally, the application will install the open source Dokan library which contains a user mode DLL (dokan.dll) and a kernel mode file system driver (dokan.sys). Dokan is used to mount Virtual Disks and make them accessible as normal drives with Explorer visibility and Command Prompt access.

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.

4 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Business Applications, downloads, Encryption, Freeware, Mac OS X, Open Source, Software, Utilities, Virtualization, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free GigaTribe – Go Private With Your File Sharing

imageThe Recording Industry Association of America which represents the recording industry distributors in the United States, has managed to have LimeWire banished from the playing field – Boo, Hiss!!

I must confess though, I’ve never been a fan of public, peer to peer file sharing. Unfortunately, with public peer to peer file sharing, the risk factor that the user will not get what he thinks he will, is extremely high.

For example – the last time I tested public peer to peer file sharing, of the five game files that I downloaded, every one came packed with a Trojan downloader, which, had I installed any of these applications on my test machine., would have wrecked havoc.

The two main issues with peer to peer file sharing (but not the only issues) are:

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share.

Spyware: There’s a good chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove.

So what’s a user to do who enjoys file sharing, and who doesn’t want to be burned by the cybercriminals who skulk on public file sharing networks searching for victims?

A terrific solution to this dilemma is provided by a free application from GigaTribe (last updated April 23th, 2010). An application which is designed to create a private network between you, and your friends, relatives, co-workers, or, whomever you choose.

If you have every used peer to peer software, then you’ll find no learning curve involved in using GigaTribe – it’s functional, efficient, attractive, and “follow the bouncing ball” intuitive.

How much more simply can it be than this:

GigaTribe

The following graphic is from the publisher’s site.

image

Fast facts:

GigaTribe has more than 1.5 Million users.
Its unique technology has been developed by talented programmers with a strong history in the software industry.

There are no limitations on quantity or file size.
All your files are kept on your hard drive, eliminating the need to transfer them to an external server.

Files are available in their original format.
In just a few clicks, you can share and also find files as if you were in a virtual library. You will see files as they were organized on the hard drive, and you can download them in their original format.

You don’t waste time uploading files.
Once you select which folders you want to share, the contents of those folders are instantly accessible to your friends.

Your files remain yours!
Files you have decided to share are not saved on another company’s equipment. You keep your data under your control.

It´s a two-way sharing service.
Each contact can both share and download. You decide which content is worth downloading among the files available to you.

You may invite up to 500 friends.

Transfer automatically resumes.
If a download is interrupted (for example, if a contact goes offline), the transfer automatically resumes with no loss of data when your contact comes back online.

Security is, of course, GigaTribe´s major concern.

Only the people you have invited can see your files. Only the folders you have selected are visible to your contacts. Every exchange is strongly encrypted – No one can see what is being shared.

As an added bonus, users’ can create profiles, and have access to personal chat and a private blog, all from within the program. Now that’s cool!

Here’s a great example of GigaTribe in action (testimonial from the publisher’s site).

GigaTribe allows us to exchange our course materials or photos and videos of our evenings. We do not need any more to transport our external disks for sharing the big files.

GigaTribe allowed to create a network of exchange exclusively intended for the students of the school. It facilitates sharing and the mutual help between students.

It’s not often that I can rate an application 100%, but GigaTribe comes very close. A superb application! If you’re into private file sharing, or it’s something that you’ve considered, then give GigaTribe a whirl – I think you’ll be glad you did.

Checkout GigaTribe’s one minute Guide.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7.

Languages: English, Español, Français, Deutsch, Italiano, Português

Download at: Gigatribe

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.

7 Comments

Filed under downloads, File Sharing, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Peer to Peer, social networking, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Skype – Right for Your Life? Part Two

image As many of you know, last week Google announced free phone calls to “real phones”, not just PC to PC calls , using Gmail as the launch platform. After kicking the tires on this new Google service, I came away very impressed.

The buzz, all this week, on this new offering from Google, seemed to center around the (negative) impact on Skype, the granddaddy of “free” communication applications. Personally, I don’t buy into the negative impact view.

If the  installed application base means anything, and it does, then Skype, with its 560 million registered users, versus Gmail’s 200 million users (of which only a small percentage have signed up for the new service), would have to commit a series of critical blunders to lose market position.

We’ve seen market leaders stumble and fall in the past of course, but Skype has always been highly proactive to changing market conditions. In the past few days, for example, Skype has released version 5.0 Beta 2 for Windows which includes the following new features.

New in version 5.0 Beta 2:

10-way group video calling – Making a 10-way group video call requires a very fast computer, the minimum system requirements for is Intel Core2duo 2 GHz CPU or equivalent, the recommended CPU is Intel i7.

Skype Home experience – Skype Home is a new area in Skype which provides relevant updates for you, including information about your purchases, your friends’ mood message updates, and videos to help new users get started with Skype.

Offline instant messaging – You can send and receive messages from your friends who are offline at the moment. The messages will be delivered at the moment when the other party or you will sign in to Skype, even if your friend is not online anymore.

New contact search and add experience

Enhanced call experience under problematic conditions – Built in client messaging which informs you about potential issues with the call and what to do to improve your call quality.

Post call experience

General User Interface refresh – Numerous updates to Skype’s left side screen there is a new profile and mood message entrance area as part of Skype Home

Regular users are familiar with the following standard features.

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature invaluable.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

image

Available Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

image

System requirements:

Windows XP, Vista or 7

Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

Note: beta versions are still a work in progress, so you might find the odd bug.

I’ll continue to use both Skype and Google Voice as complimentary applications (not competitive applications), since each applications excels in areas that are not necessarily crossovers.

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Communication, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Skype, Software, Video Calling, Web Cam Applications, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP