If you still use Windows XP, I wish you’d stop. Seriously, for your safety and the safety of others, I wish you’d stop. The good news is you have some options, and you’ll probably be happier with one of them.
On Monday, March 13 at approximately 10:30 AM CST, I will be appearing on KFUO Radio’s Faith and Family program to discuss home computer security with host Andy Bates. Here’s the scariest question he’s planning to ask: How easily can someone hack my home computer and steal personal information?
Someone asked me that question at work once, except it was about a work computer. I whipped out a copy of a book about Metasploit, flipped to page 137, and started reading. My point was that I could teach this guy how. He didn’t take it well, so I don’t recommend doing that.
My point that I could teach this guy how to do it still stands, though. And I think I could teach Andy how too.
When I first installed it, I thought it was pretty pointless to try to optimize Windows 10. Of course, I installed it from scratch on a computer with an SSD and 16 gigs of RAM. Then I upgraded a couple of computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and I started to see why some people might not like Windows 10 all that much.
Upgraded systems almost always run slow, but I’d forgotten how much slower. And while you didn’t have to do much to Windows 7 to make it fast–that’s one reason people liked it–I find some Windows 10 optimization seems to be necessary.
Whether you’ve gotten a tech support scam phone call or not, it can be helpful to know how to clean viruses off your computer for free. And yes, I do mean free.
A lot of people get ripped off due to virus scares and it makes me mad. I’m a computer security professional. I advise large companies on computer security for a living. Today I’ll take a few minutes to advise you.
What’s the best free antivirus? I have an answer that may surprise you. I also have a supplement that may surprise you. And I have a third supplement you already have but probably never heard of.
Keep something in mind. I don’t like using words like “good” and “best” in the same sentence as antivirus software. Imagine a college graduating class whose valedictorian is Chris Farley’s character from the movie Tommy Boy. What you want from your antivirus software is something that doesn’t do a lot of damage.
I got e-mail the other day from Turbotax saying someone had filed my taxes for me. Obviously a cause for concern, right? Here’s how I determined the message was fake in about three minutes. You can spot phishing e-mails with Outlook the same way.
Some people will tell you not to even open a message like this, but if you’re a computer professional, at some point someone is going to want you to prove the message was fake. I think this is something every e-mail administrator, desktop support professional, security professional, and frankly, every helpdesk professional ought to be able to do.
So here’s how you can get the proof. And generally speaking, Outlook 2010’s default configuration is paranoid enough that this procedure will be safe to do. If you want an extra layer of protection, make sure you have EMET installed and protecting Outlook.
Unlike some security professionals, I still regard antivirus as a necessity. It doesn’t catch advanced threats, and everything it does catch can be caught through other methods, but it is the most cost- and labor-effective way to catch the best-known, least sophisticated attacks. If you put a $100,000 incident responder to work hunting ordinary viruses, you’ll waste a lot of money on salary and quickly lose that incident responder to another company offering more interesting work.
Of course, there’s a great deal of discussion in the mainstream computer magazines about which antivirus is the best. I don’t agree with their methodology though–they might as well be looking for the longest 8-foot 2×4 at the home improvement store. Yes, you can probably find some variance if you get out a micrometer, but what have you accomplished?
SANS has a good real-world test to see how much protection your antivirus software is really giving you.
One of the very best things security measures you can take is application whitelisting–limiting the apps that are allowed to run on your computer.
The Australian Signals Directorate–the Australian counterpart to the NSA–says doing four things cuts security incidents by a whopping 85 percent. You probably do three of the things. The fourth is application whitelisting.
- use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running
- patch applications such as Java, PDF viewers, Flash, web browsers and Microsoft Office
- patch operating system vulnerabilities
- restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications based on user duties.
There was a fair bit of talk last week about a study that compared security advice from security experts versus security advice from people who are at least somewhat interested but don’t live and breathe this stuff.
There were significant differences in the answers, and a lot of security professionals panned the non-expert advice. I don’t think the non-expert advice was necessarily bad. Mostly it was out of date.
In case you haven’t heard, it’s possible to hack into about a billion Android phones by sending them a text message with a specially crafted picture or video attached.
Google has a fix. The carriers and phone makers are taking their sweet time pushing it out. They may never do it. Here’s how to protect yourself.