Tag Archives: Windows Security

100,000 People Are Now Using Immunet Protect AntiVirus

Is 100,000 a big number by the standards of the Internet? No, it’s not. However, the people at Immunet might disagree. To them, this is very likely a much anticipated milestone.

My fellow author Tehseen first wrote about the Immunet Protect service in August of last year. At the time, only a few thousand people were using it. Immunet is a cloud (internet based) service that is constantly connected and stays up to date against the most recent bugs. Here’s what Immunet says about it:

Imagine for a moment that you could leverage the computers of your friends, family and a worldwide global community to harness their collective security. Every time someone in this collective community encounters a threat everyone else in the community gains protection from that same threat in real time.

I recently wrote about trying Immunet as an addition to your regular antivirus. Since then, I’ve started using it as my only active antivirus. I do occasionally run ESET’s online scanner.

This afternoon when I booted up my netbook, this is what I saw above my task tray.

immunet-protect-100k

Congratulations to the Immunet Protect team on crossing 100,000 users. You can tweet them at @immunet to offer your toasts to them as well.

Note: I only recommend this free AntiVirus service as an addition to your existing protection. That said, I don’t always take my own advice.

More information:  https://immunet.com/protect

McAfee Security Scan Plus – Advice That You May Not Want

Recently, I wrote about Secunia’s Online Software Inspector. It scanned my netbook and found several programs that it believed were out of date. As you probably know, out of date programs can give hackers an easy way to gain access to a PC. One of the programs I needed to update was Adobe Acrobat Reader.

I went to the Adobe site to get the latest updated version and while there, I saw an offer for a free copy of McAfee’s Security Scan Plus. I had never heard of it before, and my curiosity would not let me pass it up.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus

The McAfee product installed right after Adobe finished. A few days later, I finally got around to trying it out. Here’s the first thing you will see upon launching it. It’s a simple welcome screen, nothing more.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-welcome

Next, you’ll see that you must update this product in order to use it.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-update

The update didn’t take long and they provided an interesting animation while I waited.

mcafee-sec-scan-plus-updating

Next it started scanning my PC. I was anxious to see the results at this point.

Locking Programs and Files with a Password – SaveIt

I saw a review for a program called Empathy at Download Squad. It allows you to lock files with a password. They mentioned that this was a free version with the password feature disabled partially. You could only use a one letter password. What are they thinking?

I try out lots of free apps and I do occasionally recommend CrippleWare if it’s still useful. If there are any good alternatives I’ll mention those in the same article.

There are many free apps to let you lock down your PC and it’s applications. Below are a couple I’ve run into in the past and one I can recommend.

WindowsXpSecurityConsole – Super but mainly locks Windows resources

WinGuard Pro 2008 – NOT RECOMMENDED too many disabled features in the free edition

SaveIt! is the one I recommend if you need to lock program files.

saveit

SaveIt uses a fairly standard installer. When you launch it, you’ll be able to choose the executable file that you want to password protect. It will step you through two additional screens to get more settings from you. If you get confused about what to do at the end of each step, look in the right side panel for the link labeled Nextto advance to the next step.

When you are done, you should see the icon for your executable change to the SaveIt icon which shows a red circle with a cross-bar through it. Anyone trying to open your protected executables will have to know the password to use it.

If you decide to remove the protection on a file later, you can get to this screen (below) by launching the file and supplying the password.

saveit-options

Download location:

http://www.neroes.de/downloads/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

SaveIt is a simple and effective way to control who can access programs on your PC. It’s small. easy to use, and it’s free. I can recommend it without any reservations.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

WinPatrol Lifetime License for 99¢ – One Day Only

I don’t check my Twitter very often. I was surprised to catch a tweet that I consider breaking news. The author of the excellent WinPatrol security software for Windows has gone a little crazy. Here’s what he says on his blog.

I’m curious and thinking a crazy single day experiment could be fun and may be worth the risk. So what the hell. If you want to upgrade to WinPatrol PLUS on January 29th, I’ll give you a lifetime WinPatrol membership for less than a dollar. (normally $29.95 USD)

I’ve used the free version of WinPatrol many times over the last few years. Last year we wrote an article telling you how to use WinPatrol to speed up Windows startup by delaying less important startup programs. That’s only one way to use WinPatrol. It’s been listed at Gizmo’s as a Best Free Intrusion Prevention and Detection Utility for Home Use. The PLUSedition of WinPatrol has some features in it that are going to be worth far more than a dollar to most users.

I’ll take a few moments here to tell you about some of it’s other important features.

WinPatrol-startup-window

As you can see, the program offers you 13 tabs full of information about the programs, services and settings on your PC. These include:

• Startup Programs
• Delayed Start
• ActiveX
• IE Helpers
• Scheduled Tasks
• Services
• Active Tasks
• Cookies
• File Types
• Hidden Files
• Recent
• PLUS Information
• WinPatrol Options

Each one of those tabs typically allow you to not only see what’s going on in your PC, but to also make changes to those areas. WinPatrol normally runs as an icon in your System Tray and notifies you when important PC settings are changed. Once notified, you are given the chance to deny those changes.

The PLUS section gives you access to WinPatrol’s exclusive information about the normally unknown processes that run on your PC.

There’s also a portable version of WinPatrol called WinPatrolToGo that can be taken with you on a flash drive or other portable media.

The 99 ¢ offer is available only on January 29th at:

http://www.winpatrol.com/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The free version of WinPatrol is a great addition to the security of any Windows PC. Adding the PLUS features for a small lifetime fee of 99 cents is a real bargain that many people should consider. Remember that this offer is only good on January 29th 2010, one day only.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5

Is the Windows XP Search Doggie a Spy?

The other day, while I was reading my friend Terry’s Newsletter, I was surprised to see this question from him.

Did you know that every time you search, Windows Explorer talks to Microsoft?

search_phone_home_trust_doggies

I did some research, he was right. I found several forum posts concerning this. Most of them had titles like: Windows Explorer Search tries to contact Microsoft.

Proof of Espionage

I won’t go into too many boring details, but I found out that when you open up a search window to find files, Windows Explorer does contact Microsoft’s 65.55.11.179 IP address. This is caused by the default use of the Search Assistant, which you normally see as a little dog. Here’s a screenshot from my copy of Currports showing that connection.

search_phone_home_currports

If you are curious about Currports, read my article telling you how to find out who is spying on you.

According to one post I found, Microsoft promises that no personal information is taken or kept. They claim that it’s an update feature. This leaves me to ask, Do you trust the little doggie?

The solution to this sneaky little dog is to turn off the Search Assistant, which changes the search to Classic Search. However, MS does not provide a simple way to do that. If you click the preferences in Search, you can make the Search Assistant hide, but it really is still working. An article at MS TechNet tells you how to hack the Windows Registry to completely kill the Search Assistant. May he rest in peace.

Hack Your Registry

I’ve tried their solution and it works. For those who know how to use a .REG file, here’s the text of a REG file which works. Copy and paste it into a text file, then save it with a .REG extension. Double-click it to install the fix.

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CabinetState]
“Settings”=hex:0c,00,02,00,0b,01,f8,75,60,00,00,00
“FullPath”=dword:00000001
“FullPathAddress”=dword:00000001
“Use Search Asst”=”no”

For those who don’t want to muck around in the Windows Registry, there is a better solution. You can download a copy of Tweak UI from Microsoft.

Use a PowerToy

Go to the Windows XP PowerToys page. Once there, locate the Tweak UI download on the right side bar as shown here.

search_phone_home_tweakui_download

Once downloaded and installed, you’ll find the entry for Tweak UI in your Start / Program Files menu under Windows XP PowerToys. Open the program and navigate to the Explorer section. You’ll see the tweak for the Classic Search as I show here below.

search_phone_home_tweakui_setting

Search Assistant Post Mortem

Once that’s done, you’ll never see your furry little friend again. I realize that some of you may miss seeing him do tricks, but I don’t think you’ll miss the silly questions that he asks you every time you do a file search.

Here’s a side by side of   the Windows Search panel with and without the Search Assistant.

search_phone_home_little_dog search_phone_home_no_doggie

If you’ve succeeded in burying the doggie in the back yard, you may want to go one step further and add a faster file search to Windows XP.

More Tweaks to See

Be sure to check out all of the other tweaks that Tweak UI can give you on your Windows XP system. My favorite is removing the Shortcut Toprefix which gets added every time you create a shortcut.

The Other PowerToys

Also check out the other PowerToys at the Microsoft page that I linked to above. Here’s a quick list of some of them.

  • Color Control Panel Applet
  • SyncToy < see our article about this app
  • RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer
  • ClearType Tuner < see our article about this app
  • HTML Slide Show Wizard
  • Open Command Window Here
  • Alt-Tab Replacement
  • Tweak UI
  • Power Calculator
  • Image Resizer < see our article about Vista and Win7
  • CD Slide Show Generator
  • Virtual Desktop Manager
  • Taskbar Magnifier

Techie-Buzz Verdict: Guilty

Yes, the little dog is a spy, but you can muzzle him with a registry hack or the TweakUI PowerToy from Microsoft. No animals were harmed in the making of this article.

Speed up Windows startup by delaying less important startup programs

The programs that get executed every time you boot up your computer (called startup entries) affects the speed of the startup process very badly. This situation could be managed by disabling unwanted programs and selectively enabling startup programs using any   startup manager. Here is a tip to speed up the startup even more by delaying the needed-but-less important startup programs using a very good freeware security tool for Windows, WinPatrol.

Once installed, WinPatrol will run in the background and will alert you if any change is made to the system settings, there by, preventing malwares from getting installed. What we are going to use now, is the ‘Delayed Startup’ feature of Winpatrol.

How To

  • Launch WinPatrol
  • In the “Startup Programs” tab, right click the program you want to delay and select “move to delayed start”
  • Switch to the “Delayed start” tab and you’ll find the program you just delayed in the list there.
    By default, the delay value is 30 seconds, but you can set it to a maximum of 1 hour, by right-clicking the program in the list and selecting the ‘Delay start options’.

Usage Tips

  • This method could be used to delay helper/tray agents like iTunes helper, PC suite helpers of phone softwares etc.
  • DO NOT delay programs/processes related to your display, sound card, touch pad and anti-virus/firewall
  • You may weigh programs of their importance to you and then set custom delay timings so that multiple programs won’t be executed simultaneously, saving up the total system performance .