Online security tests
These are some of the best places to have your computer's security from internet threats tested:
Spyware and Adware Control
Some of the best software for dealing with spyware,
adware, etc. is listed below. Just a note: I've checked a lot of spyware programs, most because they
got rave reviews on somebody's site. It's claimed that hey catch more spyware than any other
program the reviewer knows about, including all the ones I'm using.
One that I checked maybe half a year ago, claimed to find quite a few pieces of spyware that
I had totally missed. It listed them, and asked me what how I wanted to handle them. I went to
look at the errant files, and they wasn't there. These extensive spyware finds were imaginary.
Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of that program.
Another, which I tested last week, was also reviewed in glowing terms by one site. This was the
commercial program ewido. It found over 120 hits of the BargainBuddy Spyware program. Fortunately
they were all false positives. When the program found the "spyware" it asked if I wanted it
quarantined or removed. Fortunately I had them quarantined. After a couple dozen such answers,
I told it to continue checking, but do nothing to any further "infected" files while I investigated
further. The tech support over there was
prompt, courteous, and helpful. They asked me to send them some of the"infected" files and confirmed
that they were false positives. The program was missing some basic features, such as a way to
list files I didn't want scanned (I have one called killcmos.com, which anti-virus programs, and some
other anti-malware programs want to catch & kill), or information about the "infections" it found.
The programs I do recommend are listed below.
Search and Destroy Excellent spyware find and removal program
The original high quality spyware removal tool
Microsoft Anti Spyware Microsoft bought one of the top antispyware companies,
rebranded it, and so far doesn't seem to have ruined it. They provide it for free. Don't
consider it a replacement for the above programs.
Prevent the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and
other potentially unwanted pests. Blocks spyware/tracking cookies in Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox.
Restricts the actions of potentially dangerous sites in Internet Explorer.
Does not have to stay resident in memory, but should be updated regularly
- SpyWare Guard
real time scanning engine for spyware and hijack protection - similar to how virus
This was the first program I discovered that effectively prevented RealPlayer and
Quicktime from installing themselves at Windows startup, but have discovered other useful
features as well. It's a good spyware and adware program, it controls unwanted IE
add-ons, it prevents undesired file association changes, and automatically filters unwanted
cookies, so you don't have to remove cookies such as doubleclick, for example, which are
continually reinfecting your computer. WinPatrol also prevents start page hijacking for those
still using Internet Explorer, it detects HOSTS file changes, and has a few additional tricks
up its sleeve as well
Windows XP firewall only offers inbound protection,
so a different firewall is highly recommended to get outbound protection as well. Outbound
protection is necessary when a piece of spyware attempts to send out information from your computer.
Note that the head of security at Symantec once let it slip that their firewall had a
backdoor for the US government to check on you at will. He recently left Symantec and now
is part of the Bush administrations computer security team. Router firewalls also provide
only inbound protection.
- ZoneAlarm Free for home use
- Kerio Personal Firewall
also has network and mailserver versions. Like ZoneAlarm, the straight firewall
is free for home use, additional features cost.
- Tiny Personal Firewall for home use - free for 30 days, then $49
- System Safety Monitor
Firewall isn't really the right
term for this software. In much the same way a firewall controls what programs can and cannot access
the internet (of course firewalls do do more than that), this program controls which programs are allowed
to run or not run on your computer. It does a lot more. For example, it also controls which programs are
allowed to set themselves to start automatically when the computer is booted, and monitors certain types
of registry access. It is freeware, but the beta license is time limited. This program is currently
hard to find. A couple places to look are
Spyware Self-Help Sites
Excellent Spyware resources to help people who run into problems.
Other Peoples' Security Recommendations
- Pest Patrol's
How to section (eg "Clear a Hijack", "Configure Ad-Aware" ...) <
Beginners Guides some excellent security articles included
Windows Process Library
Check here too These list and describe the function and purpose of all Windows
processes such as userinit, spool32, csrss, lsass, etc.
This will convert the email address in your home page to hexadecimal. "Steve" will
look like this "steve"
- Doc Scrubber removes
lots of identifiable info from Word documents
- MRU Scrubber
MRU-Blaster detects and cleans MRU (most recently used) lists on your computer.
These MRU lists contain information such as the names and/or locations of the last files
you have accessed. They are located ALL OVER your registry, and for almost ANY file type.
By looking at these MRU lists, someone could determine what files you opened/saved/looked
at, what their file names were, and much more!