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Security Setup?


Kuroudo Akabane
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Ok, so I'm very new to computers and I'm using a HP 110 Mini netbook with the 32bit version of Windows XP Home...

I have about 120GB HDD and 1GB RAM. I have IE and FF as my browsers and FF is my primary choice.

I have the Windows Firewall and Automatic Updates turned on...

What other programs should I instal and why?

And how should I configure them so they don't interfere with each other or my normal internet usage?

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My top two suggestions for windows would be Avast! antivirus. If you sign up with a free account you can turn on silent mode which will make the program never both you with pop-ups unless it is actually something of importance. Secondly I would suggest Spybot S&D. It is a free spyware and malware removal tool that also comes with a nifty background program called Tea Timer that constantly watches registry files and a few other key locations to ensure that nothing fishy is going on. If any scripts are ran that attempt to change any key components of your computer an alert will pop up, similar to the windows administrator prompts but without the locking of the pc. This includes both wanted and unwanted scripts, so it asks what you would like to do; allow, block and of course, "do this for all" (if you want the program to be useless click that). There are several other tools that can be used including network connection managers to ensure that no unauthorized connections are being made. I would also suggest the Firefox add-on "Add Block Plus", just to keep those pesky pop-ups away. I'm sure other forum members here will have plenty of other options as well (I could use a network manager myself). Hope this helps!

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My top two suggestions for windows would be Avast! antivirus. If you sign up with a free account you can turn on silent mode which will make the program never both you with pop-ups unless it is actually something of importance. Secondly I would suggest Spybot S&D. It is a free spyware and malware removal tool that also comes with a nifty background program called Tea Timer that constantly watches registry files and a few other key locations to ensure that nothing fishy is going on. If any scripts are ran that attempt to change any key components of your computer an alert will pop up, similar to the windows administrator prompts but without the locking of the pc. This includes both wanted and unwanted scripts, so it asks what you would like to do; allow, block and of course, "do this for all" (if you want the program to be useless click that). There are several other tools that can be used including network connection managers to ensure that no unauthorized connections are being made. I would also suggest the Firefox add-on "Add Block Plus", just to keep those pesky pop-ups away. I'm sure other forum members here will have plenty of other options as well (I could use a network manager myself). Hope this helps!
Thanks for the suggestions, also for the Ad Block Plus, does it need the Adblock Plus Pop-up Addon too?

Also, this was the suggestion I got on another board, thoughts?

You can try an AV less setup i order to keep the laptop snappy. Windows hardening + Sandbox or a light HIPS (Malware Defender, DeefnseWall etc.)
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If you are up to it, why not change OS and install a linux distro, thse days most of them are very user friendly both in use and in installing. That way you remove a large threat surface since at the moment there are not a lot of virusses being written for linux (simply because not enough people make use of it to make ot profitable for the criminals) ... Since you are new to computer learning linus or windows is going to take you the same amount of time and most of the info on linux can be found online (free books, forums etc.). Also most of the software you need to secure yourself is going to be free ...

As a side effect Linux often uses less resources then windows so your little netbook will feel really fast ... For this to happen you need of course to install the best distribution for you ...

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If you are up to it, why not change OS and install a linux distro, thse days most of them are very user friendly both in use and in installing. That way you remove a large threat surface since at the moment there are not a lot of virusses being written for linux (simply because not enough people make use of it to make ot profitable for the criminals) ... Since you are new to computer learning linus or windows is going to take you the same amount of time and most of the info on linux can be found online (free books, forums etc.). Also most of the software you need to secure yourself is going to be free ...

As a side effect Linux often uses less resources then windows so your little netbook will feel really fast ... For this to happen you need of course to install the best distribution for you ...

Great info, this is a very viable solution. You can still run windows services within Linux using wine or simply virtualizing a windows environment (quite easy to do but can be demenading on hardware).

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If you are going to stick with Windows, I suggest using Microsoft security essentials.. Although I'd look into updating to Windows 7 if at all possible. Windows XP is stricken with Security Flaws, and I'm pretty sure Microsoft has stopped providing updates for that OS.

Linux is great, too.

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My top two suggestions for windows would be Avast! antivirus.
I've just installed it... any suggestions on the settings?
If you sign up with a free account you can turn on silent mode which will make the program never both you with pop-ups unless it is actually something of importance. Secondly I would suggest Spybot S&D. It is a free spyware and malware removal tool that also comes with a nifty background program called Tea Timer that constantly watches registry files and a few other key locations to ensure that nothing fishy is going on. If any scripts are ran that attempt to change any key components of your computer an alert will pop up, similar to the windows administrator prompts but without the locking of the pc. This includes both wanted and unwanted scripts, so it asks what you would like to do; allow, block and of course, "do this for all" (if you want the program to be useless click that). There are several other tools that can be used including network connection managers to ensure that no unauthorized connections are being made.
Haven't added it yet.
I would also suggest the Firefox add-on "Add Block Plus", just to keep those pesky pop-ups away. I'm sure other forum members here will have plenty of other options as well (I could use a network manager myself). Hope this helps!

Haven't added it yet.
As a side effect Linux often uses less resources then windows so your little netbook will feel really fast ... For this to happen you need of course to install the best distribution for you ...

A co-worker made a partition (~30 GB) on my netbook with Ubuntu, but I'd like to get better with WIndows first.
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Just let it be known that XP has tons of holes. For just general surfing you can protect yourself with whats posted above (good updated AV, spybot S&D, MS sec essentials). If you're looking for a truly hardened machine, XP is damn difficult to get secure. If you feel that you could become the target of an attack in the future, XP will fail you. Metasploit eats XP for breakfast lunch and dinner and theres very little you can do as a novice. In which case, with that machine's specs, linux is your best bet by far.

telot

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I would certainly recommend Avast, it does a pretty well job in securing your computer from threats. I use the paid version of Avast, which comes with more security features, such as the ability to run applications in a sandbox environment, a built in firewall, the keeps a close eye on the outbound and inbound connections your computer makes. If you can't aford the paid version, the Free version will still do a very good job.

Secondly, i would stop using XP altogether and upgrade to Windows 7 for security reasons. DO NOT log into your computer using administrator account, this will limit the damages a virus infection will do to your system. Keep your system and third party applications, up to date, again this is very important as it will prevent virus/malware from exploiting your system and gaining access.

I would turn off services that are not required by you, this will limit your threat surface and make your system more secure. The other thing you could look at as well is installing a Firewall, such as Comodo.

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I would turn off services that are not required by you, this will limit your threat surface and make your system more secure. The other thing you could look at as well is installing a Firewall, such as Comodo.
So how many types of programs are there? I see a lot of terms getting thrown around.

Firewalls, AV Scanners, Spyware Removal Tools, etc...

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So how many types of programs are there? I see a lot of terms getting thrown around.

Firewalls, AV Scanners, Spyware Removal Tools, etc...

I would suggest getting yourself familiar with each term and what each does, they can get quite overwhelming sometimes.

A firewall, is a very important piece of software or hardware, it helps stop known attacks from getting into your computer. Most importantly, it helps you manage what applications are allowed to access the internet or not. Firewalls uses rules to determine what traffic can be let in or out.

An AV Scanner or an Antvirus, helps detect and delete virus/works/malwares from infecting your computer, in the first place.

Spyware Removal, its a tool that helps identify small piece of software designed to steal information from your computer.

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If you really want to keep using Windows XP I would also try to implement as much as you can from the NSA Windows hardening guide (http://www.nsa.gov/ia/mitigation_guidance/security_configuration_guides/operating_systems.shtml#microsoft), if you scroll down enough there are two documents concerning Windows XP. Even the NSA recommends you using something else then XP though ...

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Ok thanks.

Currently I just have Avast (free) and the Windows Firewall...

I've been told to get EMET, Avira (free), Hitman Pro, Comodo Cleaning Essentials, MalwareBytes (free), Comodo D+... as well as several programs on this site.

Keep Avast, install Spybot - search and destroy and Comodo firewalls. These will keep you protected.

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Is Search and Destroy part of Spybot?

Yes its part of Spybot! It no only detected spyware, but it also locks some important files like the host file for instance.

If some malware, attempt to alter the host file, Spybot will protect the file from being modified.

Edited by Infiltrator
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You might also want to have a look at EMET from Mircosoft, it is supposed to stop certain exploits from occurring: http://blogs.technet.com/b/srd/archive/2012/05/15/introducing-emet-v3.aspx

There is a side effect though, it is claimed that some programs do not work with this technology because they need the behaviour that the tool blocks to function correctly.

I do not have experience with this tool so if you use it perhaps let us know in a separate thread?

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Yes its part of Spybot! It no only detected spyware, but it also locks some important files like the host file for instance.

If some malware, attempt to alter the host file, Spybot will protect the file from being modified.

Listen to this man!!! Spybot and Avast!! Two of the best free services out there. The paid versions of Avast! do give you some additional protection, but are generally not needed. Spybot is a life saver, it actually kept me form getting key-logged a while back. On that note I'll give you a tip... check over your laptop after your girlfriend uses it to download programs...

Also, don't just click "Allow" every time a spybot alert pops up. One of these alerts means that a registry file or another important file is being written, altered or deleted! It is very important to know what programs and making these changes and why. Generally speaking if you are installing a trusted program you can allow what it is trying to alter (this would be programs such as Adobe products and clients such as Steam or Skype). If you are ever installing an unknown or less trustworthy program, be sure you know what registry/sensitive files it is altering before letting them have the access. You can never be to sure now a days...

Edited by Saelani
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Listen to this man!!! Spybot and Avast!! Two of the best free services out there. The paid versions of Avast! do give you some additional protection, but are generally not needed. Spybot is a life saver, it actually kept me form getting key-logged a while back. On that note I'll give you a tip... check over your laptop after your girlfriend uses it to download programs...

Also, don't just click "Allow" every time a spybot alert pops up. One of these alerts means that a registry file or another important file is being written, altered or deleted! It is very important to know what programs and making these changes and why. Generally speaking if you are installing a trusted program you can allow what it is trying to alter (this would be programs such as Adobe products and clients such as Steam or Skype). If you are ever installing an unknown or less trustworthy program, be sure you know what registry/sensitive files it is altering before letting them have the access. You can never be to sure now a days...

While some of the Avast additional protection, is generally not needed, they are quite good to have, you never know what you might encounter.

Edited by Infiltrator
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Yes its part of Spybot! It no only detected spyware, but it also locks some important files like the host file for instance.

If some malware, attempt to alter the host file, Spybot will protect the file from being modified.

Was reading reviews and found this

"Cons

I work at a school with dozens of computers. I have noticed that almost all of them take over 10 minutes to start up, even if fairly new, and that they all run very slowly. Even with nothing but Firefox running, the CPU will be at 98% or so. I noticed all of them had something called Teatimer that was eating up the CPU. What's Teatimer? It's this piece of junk. As soon as I shut it down or uninstall it, the computers always run like a charm. Thanks Spybot."

Is this still an issue?

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That doesn't sound right and the teatimer.exe is part of the Spybot - search and destroy program. Just out of curiosity, where did you download the spybot software from?

"SpybotSD TeaTimer" can run at start up. TeaTimer is a new tool of Spybot S&D - spam filter which perpetually monitors the processes called/initiated. It immediately detects known malicious processes wanting to start and terminates them giving you some options, how to deal with this process in the future"

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