Top Story

Sponsored search results lead to malware

The ads served by Bing and Google along with your search results are linking more and more often to sites trying to infect your machine.

Neither Bing nor Google effectively prescreens these bogus advertisers, so it’s up to us to detect and avoid them.

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Get your system ready for a Windows 7 upgrade

Removing unneeded applications and making sure your hardware devices will work with Windows 7 are good things to do before you purchase and install the new operating system.

A merciless approach — ruthlessly excising software clutter prior to the OS upgrade — will help ensure that the process goes smoothly.

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More tricks to evade keyloggers on public PCs

Dozens of readers responded to my
Sept. 10 Top Story,
many of them proposing alternative ways to evade keyloggers other than the “revised Vesik method” I described.

No method can make you completely safe when using a public computer, so you must balance convenience with the level of risk that’s acceptable to you.

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Control ill-behaved apps with DEP in IE

Internet Explorer 8 includes a security feature that shuts down misbehaving applications before they can harm your system.

This capability, known as Data Execution Prevention (DEP), runs by default when IE 8 is installed on XP SP3 and Vista SP1 or later, but it may not always be clear to you why DEP has put the brakes on one of your PC’s applications.

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Prevent keyloggers from grabbing your passwords

Strong passwords are important, but even the best password won’t keep you safe from keyloggers — hardware and software that’s designed to secretly record your keystrokes.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can enter sensitive data so it’s extremely difficult for snoops to extract your passwords from keylogger files.

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Security Baseline provides basic PC protection

The Windows Secrets Security Baseline describes products and services that serve as a minimum safe PC configuration.

This week, I’m updating the latest findings on a set of hardware and software that should meet the needs of individual PC users, though more-advanced users and large businesses may want a more-sophisticated approach to computer defense.

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Use any version of Windows 7 free for 120 days

There’s an easy way to stretch Windows 7’s 30-day free-trial period to 120 days so you can determine whether Microsoft’s new operating system meets your needs.

Even better — if you know the secret — you can try out any version of Win7, from Ultimate to the lowly Basic, using a single install disc.

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Sun, Apple, Microsoft install chaff with patches

When you apply a security update for one of the programs on your PC, beware of uninvited software that wants to come along for the ride.

Vendors are more and more often going over the line, piggy-backing unsolicited commercial products and services onto crucial security patches.

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Gmail flaw shows value of strong passwords

The disclosure of a back door allowing bad guys to repeatedly guess Gmail passwords should remind us all to protect our accounts with long and strong character strings.

There’s a straightforward way to protect your online accounts — use sign-in phrases that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess.

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Install MS’s out-of-cycle patches for IE, apps

Two emergency updates released by Microsoft this week correct flaws in Internet Explorer and potentially dozens of third-party programs.

One of the patches is intended primarily for use by application developers, but how far the threat to apps extends — and how many end users will be affected — is not yet clear.

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