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This Windows XP Compaq Presario S4020WM gets a security overhaul

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This page last updated on or about late 8-5-08
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BACK to Compaq Presario S4020WM User's Log...

This was far overdue. But it's tough these days to have a life and keep a Windows XP system in good shape, security-wise, online.

I got a couple scary wake up calls recently, too. When malware actually successfully invaded my PC from the net. A PC which regularly gets all the latest security updates/patches from Microsoft(!)

Well, the success only happened once. But soon after I rid myself of it, it almost got in a second time. Yikes! Luckily I recognized the same malware ID from before, and used Control-Alt-Delete to kill my browser, and so the invasion as well.

Note that Google's recently begun practice of warning surfers about sites sporting malware in search results didn't work in this instance, either. Google was as blindsided as I was. For that's where the invasions came from in both cases.

Atop all that, I recently learned of new security hazards to my web site too, which I must somehow navigate through various extreme geek tech obstacles to resolve-- plus fight with my web site host about, too. Damn it!

I'm actually unsure which security problem is bigger: my local PC, or my remote web sites.

I've decided lately that using Apple OS X Macs might be a practical answer for child access online (if you can afford them). Since they finally seem to run without crashing now, for the first time since OS X was released, many, many years ago. Plus, the mainstream plug-ins required for online gaming all seem available for the Macs now too. Unlike previous years. Although our kids still encounter some glitches here and there, which might be hard to differentiate these days between being a Mac-only problem, and a general site problem affecting all users.

So the Macs seem to work great for kids' internet games now. And since OS X has a market share only slightly bigger than Linux, there's not many malware coders attacking the platform. So it's rare that a Mac OS X user gets into malware trouble these days, apparently. Even surfing the net with a naked Mac (no anti-virus or anti-spyware installed at all).

Unfortunately, Macs are still too expensive for anyone on a budget. And still too incompatible for many adult tasks, like fully functional web site authoring, with the maximum possible do-it-yourself options and free and low cost software selections available. Ergo, the reason there's so few adults using them for serious net work.

One big reason I quit Macs in 2001 was I could do lots of web authoring stuff free on PCs that I'd have had to pay extra for on Macs.

Plus, the OS X interface sucks like a hole ripped in spacetime. Compared to the original Mac GUI. Since XP is a rough clone of that original Mac GUI, it's a no-brainer what interface I'd rather use.

I see proof of OS X's awfulness on a regular basis here, where long-time OS X users sometimes get stumped trying to accomplish the simplest of tasks on their Macs-- and have to call me (a PC user) in to help them figure it out.

I expect to move to Linux at some point. Probably ubuntu. But I'm holding off on that as long as possible in the hope the OS and related applications library will be so mature and polished as to be heavenly (and even more dirt cheap than today) by the time I step foot into it.

But for now I'm stuck in XP. By far the most popular OS worldwide, and so the biggest hacker target of them all.

Today I downloaded and installed Firefox 3. I was previously using 2.

I UNinstalled AVG anti-spyware, which had quit working for me a long time ago anyway, due to its extremely short free trial period expiring.

On the recommendation of PCWorld.com I installed Securia PSI, to check my system for any files which should be updated for optimal security purposes. But it didn't seem to work on my PC, offering up only a big blank window with a scroll bar. I removed it almost immediately after installing it.

REFERENCE: 10 Quick Fixes for the Worst Security Nightmares Most security attacks are targeted at a few weak points on your PC that aren't that hard to protect. Follow these simple tips, and you'll suddenly be a whole lot safer by Erik Larkin, PC World Aug 5, 2008

I already had Avira antivir personal on my PC. It updates itself almost daily.

I also already had Lavasoft Ad-aware installed. From the aftermath of my malware invasion. I used it then to examine my system for any more crap, after I'd used XP's system restore capability to rid myself of the malware invasion.

Today I added Threatfire to my PC too. Unlike programs like Avira antivir, Threatfire doesn't use a database of known code signatures to identify malware (which would be something like you or me watching faces in a crowd to spot known criminals). Instead, Threatfire pays attention to highly suspect behavior on the part of software. And so should work great in concert with a signature app like Avira.

The Ad-aware app seems to be something mainly good for doing periodic manual malware scans with: I don't think the free version has any realtime monitoring included.

(all these apps I'm mentioning are free for home/personal use)

REFERENCE: Security's Dirty Dozen 08.05.08 These 12 applications aren't afraid to mix it up with spyware, viruses, or keyloggers. But some will stab your PC's malware in the throat, and some will get shot in the back. Which is which? by Neil J. Rubenking

I got an unusual error message amidst all these installations and/or removals, regarding an ancient bit of software bundled with this Compaq when new: Tangent Game Channel. So I removed it too. Using the 'Add or remove programs' control panel. Because I've never used it, but can recall it jumping up into my face a few times before. And it sounds like a backchannel possibility for spyware, anyway. So good riddance!

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Copyright © 2008 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.
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