Top Story

ISPs assist in cutting off file-sharing users

Internet service providers are cooperating more and more with copyright holders to crack down on illegal downloading and peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Some of the changes are due to strict new piracy laws, but others appear to arise from sheer self-interest on the ISPs’ part.

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Gmail accounts hacked via unpatched hole

Exploits allowing hackers to break into Gmail accounts are likely to occur, if they’re not already circulating, after security researchers released details of a hole that Google has reportedly declined to patch.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of using a webmail account, but it appears that the usual tricks won’t solve the Gmail problem until Google fixes the software.

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Windows Genuine Advantage is still genuinely bad

Microsoft’s system for validating Windows before users can download most updates continues to be a problem for legitimate customers and for Internet security as a whole.

Despite claims of offering better security, Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) serves only Microsoft’s marketing interests — but you can eliminate the need for WGA if you know the trick.

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Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

An old urban myth claims that the microprocessors used in PCs and other consumer electronics are designed to fail within days or weeks of their warranty expiration.

For tens of thousands of people who bought Dell and HP notebooks whose motherboards fried — often a few weeks after their warranty expired — there’s nothing mythical about it.

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No reason to rush your upgrade to IE 8

Microsoft touts Internet Explorer 8 as a big improvement over previous versions of the browser in terms of security, speed, and compatibility.

While that’s basically true, the inevitable new-release glitches — which are already appearing — suggest you should wait at least a month before upgrading.

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Run a Conficker removal tool before April 1

Computers infected with the infamous Conficker worm will start scanning the Internet for instructions this April Fools’ Day, and the results won’t be a funny joke.

I’m publishing a special news update today to correct some misinformation that’s been circulating and to give you a 1-2-3 approach that should cure most Conficker infections before April 1.

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Readers share their Security Baseline nominees

Windows Secrets readers have been giving me their feedback loud and clear: they hate Norton all-in-one products and love standalone antivirus, antispyware, and firewall apps.

Still, I have to say that security suites do remain a valid option for people looking for no-muss, no-fuss protection for their PCs.

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‘Viral inviters’ want your e-mail contact list

Several firms have recently sprung up that provide tools to copy e-mail and social-network contact lists from Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, MySpace, Friendster, and other sites.

Web site operators who lure unsuspecting users into sharing their address lists can then send invitations to all the contacts in order to swipe even more private info.

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Downgrade Vista to XP in seven easy steps

Windows 7′s arrival is just a few months away, but many people aren’t waiting and just want to replace Vista’s newness — some say weirdness — for the familiarity of XP.

If you long for the good old days of XP and still have your install CD, this step-by-step guide will help you revert to Vista’s predecessor.

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AutoRun patch a long time coming for XP users

Nearly 18 months after it was discovered, Microsoft has finally fixed a hole in the AutoRun function of older Windows versions that allowed viruses to spread via external storage devices.

While it’s good to know Microsoft is finally listening to the complaints of the Windows community, the company’s delay in applying important patches put our systems at risk unnecessarily.

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