By Peter Daley
In my opinion, the Windows operating system is now owned by the bad guys. They're sitting back laughing at the pathetic attempts of the average computer user to secure their Windows computers.
Recently a hacker group was reportedly caught in control of an estimated 1.2 million computers, mostly home or small business computers. This is just one gang. For this to happen, there must be something drastically wrong with Windows security. Is it that Windows security is simply overwhelmed, or does it need a drastic rethink and redesign? OK, you could point the blame at the large number of inexperienced computer users, but if they can't even visit web sites in safety, what chance do they have.
I am in this business, and I mainly work on Windows machines and I have seen it's security situation deteriorate. Recently, I found three computers, newly purchased, with a virus infection already on them. I re-installed another computer's operating system, using it's recovery disk, only to find the computer had a virus installed by the recovery disk. So what chance does the average joe have if they can't even be guaranteed a clean computer at purchase? These infections were caused by third party programs that had been bundled with the Windows operating system to value add the computer. I am constantly working on Windows computers and it is very rare these days to find one totally clean.
I have been recommending to clients and Sunshine Coast Computer Club Inc. members, who are Windows users, to install at least two virus checkers, two spy ware removal tools, two RootKit Checkers and a good firewall program, plus make sure they get regular updates. This may give them a fighting chance at keeping their system secure! Why? because no single virus checker, spy ware tool, or rootkit checker is not sufficient any more, to detect the avalanche of malicious content presently attacking the Windows operating system.
This is simply put, a ridiculous situation!
(I personally us the Linux Operating System, which is at present, virtually virus free in comparison to Windows. Apple/Macs computers are also far more secure.)
As I see it, Windows users have four options.
1. Only use a Linux, Apple/mac based computer for the Internet. Use your Windows computer for other tasks. Don't connect it to the net.
2. Stop using Windows and use a Linux or an Apple/Mac computer.
3. If you insist on using Windows on the Internet, install the recommended free software, or something similar, which I will suggest in future blogs, and keep it all up to date, and scan the computer regularly. (Read further for the first suggested program.)
4. Do not keep passwords, confidential, commercial, or private information stored in an Internet connected Windows computer!
This security situation is a major issue.
It is a big waste of your personal and business time and money.
It places at risk your confidential, personal and business information.
It places at risk your financial transactions.
It also presents serious issues about national security. Imagine the national chaos caused by 1.2 million computers being shut down at once!
We should all collectively start demanding greatly improved security rather than accepting the present situation as part of owning a computer.
As an exercise, download and install Clamwin, a free opensource antivirus program on to your Windows Computer to use as your second antivirus program. It will be used to cover the back of the other antivirus program, by checking that it hasn't missed anything.
Once you have downloaded and installed Clamwin, it will create a rifle sight Icon in the system tray. (The system tray is the line of icons that appear at the bottom right corner of the task bar on your opening Windows screen.) Double click it to open it, if Clamwin asks to update the first time it opens, let it.
A. In the open Clamwin program window, left click the "Preference" button. This is the first button top left of the Clamwin window. Make sure the 'report only' item is selected.
(NOTE: This is important when running a second virus checker on a system. Why? So is to prevent the possibility, (in this case Calmwin), from deleting or removing the other virus checkers virus database. If it were to delete this file, the main virus program will not be able to detect viruses.)
B. Now go to the "Advance" tab, and make sure all the four boxes here are ticked.
C. If your present virus checker scans incoming emails, you will also need to go the "Email Scanning" tab, in Clamwin and untick the email scanning items. This is so it doesn't clash with your other virus checker trying to scan incoming emails.
D. When connected to the Internet, click the update button. After the update is finished, highlight your local disk C drive from the drive list in the main window, and click the "Scan Selected Files for Viruses", button. The furthest button to the right in the button bar.
On some computers this scan could take 8 hours or more, so do this when you can leave Clamwin to do it's job. Now you can get on an with those jobs around the house you been putting off :-). You spouse will be happy.
It is very likely that a large number of you will find viruses that your other virus checker missed. Be careful because if it says it found a virus at the other virus checkers address in the file system it is most likely a false positive. It has just detected the other virus checkers virus data base as a virus.
© 2008 Peter Daley
Disclaimer: This is an amateur volunteer run service. Human error can provide incorrect information, and equipment malfunction can produce false readings. Do not rely on, or take action upon information presented on this web site or at SCCC activities, without further research. Views expressed in the pages, images, or tutorials on the SCCC Inc., web site or presented at venues, maybe the personal opinions of the relevant writers or presenters, and are not necessarily representative of those of SCCC Inc.