Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How to Make Sure Your Security Software Is Working

Spurred by phenomenal demand, the security software industry is mushrooming. That's a good thing: With the sophistication of hackers and snooping apps at an all-time high, we need all the security we can get. And no single anti-malware application is likely to provide complete protection. A layered approach running a variety of programs, each helping to cover the others' shortcomings, works best for dealing with new threats.

For instance, you might need a "raw PC analysis" tool that reviews the apps that start automatically with Windows and stops any spies from loading on their own. The best known of such utilities is HijackThis, which identifies many startup programs and processes but doesn't say whether any pose a real threat. Security firm XBlock Systems' X-RayPC (free) tries to help with that: Click its Online Analysis button, and it identifies the apps known to be 'good' programs, narrowing the search for a parasite.

Antivirus software is a must, of course, but it's not foolproof. If you get hit with a virus before the company that makes your antivirus software has released a virus definition, a virus scan may tell you your machine is clean. If you find a suspicious file on your system and your antivirus software hasn't raised an alarm, you can get a second opinion at two free sites: Virustotal.com, where you can upload a suspect file and run a comprehensive scan using 23 separate antivirus products; or Jotti, which scans files slightly more quickly because it uses only 15 different antivirus engines.

Both antivirus and antispyware applications try to catch new threats by detecting certain types of telltale characteristics and behaviors. But how can you gauge the effectiveness of your program's behavior-based protection?

Spycar (free) is a suite of utilities that probe how your antispyware or antivirus app reacts to the behaviors spyware engages in: Changing the Windows Hosts file (which could redirect your browser to malicious sites), adding favorites to the Internet Explorer menu, or changing parts of the Windows Registry. Any worthwhile security scanner should watch for these warning signs and prevent these actions.

Running Spycar won't harm your system, but if you can run the program without your antispyware or antivirus program going apoplectic, it's time to buy new security software.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Windows XP to Be Discontinued in Early 2008

Microsoft's plan to phase out OEM shipments of Windows XP, the predecessor to the new Windows Vista platform, is not sitting well with some observers, based on Internet-driven feedback.

According to a Microsoft Life-Cycle Policy Web page, Microsoft plans to discontinue shipments of Windows XP to OEMs on January 31, 2008. The page also said retail licenses will be discontinued at that time. Editions affected include the Professional, Tablet PC, Professional x64, Home, and Media Center editions of XP.

Chatters on Silicon Valley.com cited issues with the suitability of Vista on existing machines and said they might just go to Linux instead.

"If Microsoft forces us to make a choice of Vista or Linux, they might just be unpleasantly surprised as to the choice many of us will make," one chatter wrote. "I am telling anyone who has not yet upgraded from Win 9x to XP that they had better do it right away because Vista will never run on their Win 98-era machine. If they don't upgrade to XP right away, they will have to switch to Linux. The only alternative to that is to throw away their computer and buy a brand new one!"

Another chatter said it was "time for enterprises to stock up on shrink-wrapped copies of XP Pro."

A chatter on the Direct2Dell site expressed similar reservations.

"I don't care how much you've tested your systems with Vista, it simply will not be enough," the chatter said "In the corporate world, there are countless applications that are going to fail miserably with Vista in offices that are standardized on XP Pro."

Dell on Direct2Dell said it plans to continue offering XP for now. "Dell recognizes the needs of small business customers and understands that more time is needed to transition to a new operating system. The plan is to continue offering Windows XP on select Dimension and Inspiron systems until later this summer," the company said.

In a statement, Microsoft acknowledged its Vista emphasis.

"Windows Vista is safer, easier to use, better connected, and more entertaining that any operating system we've ever released, and we're encouraged by the positive customer response we've seen to date," the company said in a statement.

"It's standard practice to allow OEMs, retailers, and system builders to continue offering the previous version of Windows for a certain period of time after a new version is released, and this information as it applies to Windows XP has been available to our partners and to the public," since last year, the company said.

Microsoft has reported that more than 20 million copies of Vista shipped from January 30 to February 28, the first month of general availability. A Harris survey of home-based users in March, however, found that only 12 percent of the 2,223 respondents planned to upgrade.

There are pluses and minuses to upgrading, according to analyst Michael Cherry, of Directions on Microsoft. Security features, such as BitLocker Drive Encryption , are driving upgrades, he said. However, hardware issues have been a problem, Cherry said.

"The major factor I think that's putting a damper on it is people being uncomfortable with what the hardware requirements are," said Cherry. Questions have arisen about configuration matters such as the circuitry of graphics cards, he said. Lawsuits have even arisen about what it means to be Vista-capable, Cherry added.

Although Cherry said he did not have specific estimates on Vista shipments, he said Vista appears to have not affected PC sales rates, either upward or downward.

Vista shipments have been about as expected, said analyst Brett Waldman of IDC, who also acknowledged equipment issues with the new platform. Shipment levels so far are similar to what XP presented, he said.

To run Vista's Aero interfaces requires an advanced graphics card, Waldman said. A lot of low-end PCs do not have that, he said. Otherwise, upgrading a PC to 1GB of memory should make it Vista-capable, said Waldman.

Microsoft's decision to cancel XP shipments was "what we expect," Waldman said. Business customers, however, are putting Vista upgrades on hold.

"They're waiting 12 to 18 months to evaluate it," said Waldman.

The upcoming Windows Server Longhorn platform, meanwhile, is looking good, Cherry said. "It's very stable," he said.

PC Tools Wins the Prestigious Checkmark security certification for its anti-spyware and anti-virus programs

PC Tools announced today that Spyware Doctor and PC Tools AntiVirus software have been awarded the Checkmark Security Certification by West Coast Labs following a rigorous, comprehensive evaluation.

"We are very pleased that our products have achieved the expected standards of the industry. Third-party evaluations are critically important to boost consumer confidence regarding all Internet security products," said Michael Greene, Vice President of Product Strategy.

PC Tools has previously won the prestigious Checkmark certification for Spyware Doctor. This is the first time it has received both Level 1 and Level 2 security certification for PC Tools' AntiVirus.

West Coast Labs has made the Checkmark Security Certification System one of the leading certification programs worldwide. It has been trusted by both experts and consumers for more than 10 years providing best practice principles and independent testing on product effectiveness and performance.

PC Tools has also recently unveiled a new version of Spyware Doctor, version 5.0, which will incorporate the highly effective—and now Checkmark security certified—anti-virus software.

For more information, please visit Free Antispyware Download.

Sony Kills 20-GB PlayStation 3

Just as Microsoft's about to introduce a new Xbox 360 SKU, Sony's announced they're removing one from the marketplace.

Sony Computer Entertainment America announced Wednesday they've officially dropped the PlayStation 3 20GB SKU and will no longer be offering the cheaper, Wi-Fi less model to North American retailers. Sony says a 10-to-1 retailer demand for the 60GB SKU has prompted the move.

Don't panic, though, as 20GB owners will continue to receive the same customer service support they were guaranteed upon purchasing the machine. The architecture between the 20GB and 60GB SKUs are the same, save for a few feature differences, so the shift is minimal from a customer relations and development perspective -- unlike Microsoft, who cannot drop support for the Core SKU, as that model doesn't come with a built-in hard drive.

"At launch, we offered two separate models of PLAYSTATION 3 to meet the diverse needs and interests of our PlayStation fan base. Initial retail demand in North America was upwards of ninety percent in favor of the 60GB sku, so we manufactured and shipped-in accordingly. Due to the overwhelming demand for the 60GB model from both retailers and consumers, we have ceased offering the 20GB model here in North America," said SCEA senior director of corporate communications Dave Karraker.

"In addition to the larger internal hard drive, the 60GB PlayStation 3 features added storage media slots and built-in Wi-Fi not found in the 20GB system. Based on retailer and consumer feedback, we have decided to focus our current efforts on the more popular 60GB model," he concluded.

And so it's official -- less than six months after the launch of the PS3, the 20GB SKU is officially dead.

For more on PSP Downloads

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Kaspersky Lab Discovers First iPod-Specific Virus

Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab announced on Thursday that it had discovered the first virus designed specifically to infect iPods. The catch? You actually have to put it on your iPod-and your iPod needs to have Linux installed on it.

The virus, dubbed Podloso, is what's known as a "proof of concept" virus-or one that is created in order to demonstrate that it is possible to infect a specific platform. As such, the company said that it does not pose any real threat.

If installed on an iPod, Podloso proceeds to further replicate itself to the folder that contains program demo versions, according to Kaspersky Lab.

"Once launched, the virus scans the device's hard disk and infects all executable .elf format files," the company said in a statement. "Any attempt to launch these files will cause the virus to display a message on the screen which says 'You are infected with Oslo the first iPodLinux Virus.'"

Kaspersky Lab stressed that Podloso does not carry a malicious payload and is unable to spread.

Despite Kaspersky's claim that Podloso is the first iPod virus discovered, a small number of iPods were actually shipped with a Windows virus installed on them last October.

Less than 1 percent of the video iPods sold after Sept. 12 were infected with the Windows RavMon.exe virus, Apple said. Furthermore, it only affected Windows computers and was easily detected and removed with up-to-date anti-virus software.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Beware Of Free Antispyware Download

Though internet is a revolution in the present world, it has its own disadvantages. The security and privacy are at stake. The Internet is a dangerous place full of privacy invaders, scammers, and hackers availaing full advantage of your internet activities. You need to take certain preventive measures to avoid these threats. Spyware may get installed via certain shareware programs offered for download. Downloading programs only from reputable sources can provide some protection from this source of attack.

There are are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself safe. Antispyware, antivirus, firewalls or internet security suites are some of the software applications that can ensure your privacy. There are a number of good antispyware programs in the market today. At the same time, dozens of fake and rogue antispyware softwares are also prevailing in the market. They leave the traces of spyware and adware on your PC when scanned, thus creating a fear of threat and making yourself to buy that antispyware software. These rogue antispyware softwares are heavily marketed through e-mail campaigns and sometimes through some words like FREE ANTISPYWARE DOWNLOAD. Beware of them. Never run any free scan or free antispyware download unless you are aware of the software publishers.

If you find time, just go through the independent product reviews that are published by renowned computer magazines like PCWorld, PCMag, CNET. Spending some extra time on researching antispyware softwares can save you a lot of hassles in the long run. There are certainly some companies that specialize in delivering just good antispyware software programs and nothing else.

As a customer, everyone of us would be interested in evaluating the antispyware program. The four basic parameters which we look at the best antispyware software are price, features, ease of use, and performance. A growing number of antispyware tools are taking a new approach to fight the spyware. Rather than blocking each spyware and adware, they aim to limit malware's power to cause harm even if it gets in.

Research analysts test the products' ability to provide real-time defense on contact with threats, as well as their propensity to falsely identify harmless files. A real-time protection against rootkits and phishing sites is also one of the feature to test the accuracy of the antispyware software. Other user-friendly features like the ability to choose between a fast system scan and a slow system scan is a notable thing if you are run out of time.

Anti-phishing protection guards prevents access to known bad sites. Detecting malware is one thing; cleaning it thoroughly from your system is another. Some antispyware softwares claim that they have detected even the unnoticeable spyware and adware. But in reality one needs to have a thorough cleaning antispyware software application.

Some of the top most antispyware software programs are : Aluria Spyware Eliminator, AVG Antispyware, CA Antispyware, Lavasoft Ad-aware SE, Microsoft’s GIANT Antispyware, McAfee AntiSpyware , NoAdware, PC Tools Spy ware Doctor, Spybot Search & Destroy, Spyware Nuker, Webroot’s Spy Sweeper, XoftSpy.

In the above list, some are free antispyware downloads, the other are paid versions. Spybot S&D and Lavasoft offer free antispyware download. The major difference between a paid and free antispyware software is the presence of real-time adware and spyware protection and automatic updates in the paid ones. I don’t think for a few dollars, you would be at the pray of the spyware attack. Act wisely and you can be sure of your internet activities.

For more information please visit Free Antispyware Download

Do You Use A Windows Registry Cleaner?

Does your PC crash? Is your PC running slow? Do you have error messages popping up? Do you have programs that you just can't get off your computer?

If you answer is YES to any of these questions, you need to take serious steps to prevent the pathetic situation. I’ve recently installed a program on my PC, decided I didn't want it, and uninstalled it. But there are still bits and pieces of it all over my computer. Thus the performance of PC got adversely affected. This kind of situation happens to everyone of us.

You could have brought a brand new PC so that you could enjoy the benefits of a fast, easy machine that would make your life easier, comfortable and more enjoyable. Unfortunately, after continual use, all PC’s suffer the effects of a corrupt and ineffective Windows registry, causing error messages to appear, slow loading, and system crashes. Eventually, that machine that was supposed to make your life easier is now the source of your greatest frustration.

Truly it’s not your fault. Over the time with regular use computers tend to lose their performance. This is due to registry errors, spyware and adware, especially if you have a regular internet access. If you are trying to remove them manually it’s either hard to get rid of or never uninstall completely, leaving unused entries in your Windows registry which slows down the performance of the PC.

The technical reason for the registry errors is as follows: Computers perform at the best when they receive a regular and professional maintenance. The installation and un-installation of software, hardware, and drivers often leave remnants behind in your registry, resulting in a tangle of unused applications, broken drivers, and incomplete and empty command signals. This ultimately slows down your PC and if not addressed promptly can lead to serious problems such as computer freezing, programs not responding, and system crashes.

The Windows Registry is a massive database representing your PC's unique configuration. Windows Registry is the component that governs the operation of Windows. Whenever you make a change to the Control Panel settings, file associations, system policies, or installed software, the changes are reflected and stored in the registry. Without a clean and well organized registry, your Windows operating system is vulnerable to corruption, freezing, and crashing. Taking preventative measures will ensure the optimal performance of the PC. It’s very simple to fix the registry problems with just a few clicks.

You can notice that the larger your Windows Registry, the longer the OS will take to boot. When the Windows registry becomes very large, the PC’s performance can also decrease. Only a well versed technically sound person can manually edit the registry. In fact it’s very risky to do that. Most computer users find this task sensitive and time consuming and those who are not advanced computer experts run the risk of permanently damaging their system by trying to fix their windows registry manually.

In order to clean your computer correctly and thoroughly, a comprehensive analysis of your registry is necessary. Using registry cleaner software is the most highly developed method in fixing the problems of windows registry. While there are a number of registry repair applications available, few offer a comprehensive set of features that enable you to completely clean your registry safely. It is very crucial that you choose a Windows registry cleaner software that you can trust.

A Registry cleaner scans all types of problems such as invalid paths, file types, CLSID's DLL's Sound files, Fonts, extensions and class keys. The registry cleaner will have these features in a place where they are easy to access and well organized. The registry cleaner will be easy to use.

The unique advantage of using a windows registry cleaner software is its : 1)ability to provide your computer a free scan before purchasing, 2)ability to backup current registry and set a restore point before any change is made to the registry, and 3) a Windows startup manager. Moreover it’s user-friendly software and does not require complicated steps to setup and use.

Regular registry cleaning is very necessary. Without this the system is definitely going to crash attracting a very high bill from the technician not to mention the data that could be lost which could be your life changing information.

For more information visit Free Registry Cleaner Download.