Five important tips on how to browse in a secure way and use Microsoft Windows safely

LeLion.info PC Tips Section

Five important tips on how to browse in a secure way and use Microsoft Windows safely

published: 2006-January-04

also very useful: windows tips (a recent reply to a security-related letter)

Hello everyone!

I suppose you've heard some of these tips already, but please let me present them in a well-arranged way:

So... here they come:

Five Tips for how to reduce risks, if you work in Windows environment:

1) Have an anti-virus program running, updated and set up in such way that virus definitions are automatically downloaded and installed without the need for your intervention. DO NOT underestimate the benefit of using a good anti-virus program which has built-in real-time protection against viruses and worms (like Norton Anti-Virus)!

2) Use Windows Update website periodically or set up your copy of Windows to automatically download updates and patches, as soon as they are published by Microsoft. An up-to-date copy of Windows is better protected against most of the discovered vulnerabilities, because Microsoft releases patches and updates to fix them up.

3) Use Microsoft Internet Explorer with moderation, and update it regularly via Microsoft Windows Update. Or even better, use Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or later (Firefox), which is much more secure browser, and which you may customize in a lot of ways via special extensions to best suit your browsing needs. Plus, this is the browser which supports latest Web Standards in the closest possible way. Download size is only about 5 MB, and setting it up is piece-o-cake - it will even import ALL of your IE preferences and bookmarks, when you run it for the first time. Other thing which might get handy is the famous SessionSaver for Firefox which you can download from here: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=436&application=firefox

4) Run periodically a program which scans for spyware. One of the best in its class is Ad-Aware by Lavasoft. It has both personal (free) and professional versions, auto-update feature (for downloading latest definitions, like most of the anti-virus products have) and much more. Just download, install and scan your computer - spyware could be dangerous if you are not attentive enough! Lavasoft Ad-Aware will take care of an important part of your security protection.

5) Well, finally, just be careful what you do! The warning message says, "viruses can infect your computer by simply browsing pictures over the Internet", but common sense will tell you that if you browse through the galleries at www.flickr.com, use www.cnn.com or www.amazon.com and other trusty sources, your chance of being infected by an image is close to 0.0001% (zero). And if still you have to open/browse unreliable websites, use good browser (Firefox/Opera/other, except IE), have a good anti-virus program running and clean your PC from possible spyware after the browsing session has ended (using Lavasoft's tool). And just be careful! :-)

Happy browsing and Happy New Year to everyone! :-)))

Greets, Michel

Web Designer/Developer

================

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Staff] FYI: Hackers uncover major MS WINDOWS breach
Date: Wed, 04 Jan 2006 11:11:12 +0200
From: ***
To: ***

Hackers have found a new flaw in the Microsoft Windows operating system,
> that could endanger millions of computers, reports have announced.
>
> The new weakness, that is evident in all Windows versions since 1990
> allows for viruses and spyware to be transmitted on to the computer
> simply by browsing image files, the Financial Times reported.
>
> Before a user had to actually execute a file in order to get infected,
> but with the newly discovered breach, Windows users could be subject to
> malware attacks by simply viewing a website that contains infected
> pictures.
>
> This makes the potential threat very serious, and turns Windows into a
> far more vulnerable environment than it has ever been.
>
> Microsoft still hasn't released a patch file that would remove the flaw
> and in the meantime the hackers in question have already published the
> source file with the flaw's location. Windows users are advised to be
> especially careful when downloading or viewing graphic content online.
>
> This, however, is not the only threat that online graphic content poses.
> Since steganographic encoding (a technique for placing hidden content
> within a file) has become widely accessible, seemingly innocuous image
> files on the net already had a potential malicious dimension. Free
> software now allows for users to encrypt anything in an image without
> being noticed - from secret love notes to child pornography. In order to
> extract the hidden content, the viewer not only had to know exactly
> which file to run through the decoder, but to also know the key to
> unlock it.
>
> Source: novinite.com
>