Lets look at the facts. Modern virus checkers are not able to detect every threat. An impossibility considering there are millions of computer viruses, and hundreds of variations of those viruses. This doesn't include the threat from malware programs. From the statistics of on line virus scanners, it's generally agreed that around a quarter of all computers may have malicious content on them. Some would argue the true figure is much higher!
This means hundreds of millions of people's online transactions are at risk. The vast majority of these infected computers are using Windows. Windows has a 78% market share. Therefore hackers aim their exploits mainly at Windows users.
Here is a solution that can circumvent this potential treat.
Use a Live CD or USB boot disk. This bypasses all the Windows keyboard loggers, trojans, viruses, spy-ware and rootkit exploits that may be presently on your computer. I know of no other system that does that. There are huge advantages in doing this, as you can run an entire clean operating system from a live CD or USB stick.
You can start your computer from it, and get on the internet with a lot more safety because,
1. If your normal operating system has been infected with keyboard loggers, trojans, viruses, spy-ware, rootkits etc., these will be inactive, because the boot CD or USB loads a completely clean and separate OS (Operating System), each time you use it. The operating system is completely separated from your normal OS etc., Windows, Linux or Apple.
2. The boot CD or a write protected USB version can't be written to, so no keyboard loggers, trojans, viruses. spy-ware, rootkits and bootkits can be recorded on the disk, hidden there and activated later. When it pops out and you pop it back in the next time to use it, you know it is totally clean!
3. The Live boot CD or USB should have a good firewall. This helps prevent intruders breaking in and installing malicious programs.
4. You can use it for safer Internet banking, financial transactions, changing your online passwords, or as a safe system when your are travelling. You can't assume other people's computers, or those in Internet kiosks are clean.
5. You can also put visiting friends and relatives on the Internet, using the Live disk, and know that when they're finished using the computer, you can restart and it is totally clean.
Of course once you master using the boot CD or USB disk in a Live session, you should change your important passwords. The reason is that hackers may already have stolen this information by hacking your Windows computer. Using the Live CD or USB disk does not change your computer in any way. You can go back to using Windows and it is exactly as it was before you used the live disk.
Most of the present exploits are designed to install trojans, viruses, spyware and rootkits, on the hard drive of mainly Windows computers. This is so they can control the computer and steal passwords, credit card numbers, personal information, and banking information etc. The chances of this happening using the live CD or USB drive if you just use it to go on the Internet to conduct banking and financial transactions, is very small.
Ok, the Live CD can't be updated with a patch. This is one of it's great strengths, because it can't be recorded on, so no malicious content can be recorded on it. Lots of these Windows machines are fully patched and still infected. Patching doesn't mean the machine is clean. If you already have malicious content on your computer, patching does nothing. When a hacker finds a vulnerability he doesn't tell the world, he keeps it hidden so he can exploit it. Patches only fix those vulnerabilities the honest computer experts have discovered.
Live CDs can be regularly updated to new versions with all the latest updates, and patches. Linux live disks are available as a free download, or can be purchased for a small fee as a CD. The Live CD updated versions are generally available every 3, 6, or 12 months, depending on the version of Linux. There are differences in security between different Linux versions, so you must do security checks before using any of them.
There are no perfect systems, I give no warranties on the use of this system! You use it at your own risk. The computer security situation is such, that new unknown hack techniques and systems are being developed constantly. No one can honestly give a guarantee that any system is totally safe.
(c) 2008 Peter Daley, updated 2021
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.