Top Story

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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Reviewers rate Norton the No. 1 security suite

Norton Internet Security Suite 2009, the top-rated security suite this year — as it was last year — now uses fewer system resources than before without skimping on protection.

If you’re not a fan of Norton products, there are plenty of other contenders worthy of consideration that can challenge the long-time security-software leader.

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McAfee reveals SiteAdvisor’s retesting policy

SiteAdvisor.com, which rates Web sites on a green-yellow-red scale, is releasing details for the first time on how quickly it retests sites, after a story on the subject appeared in Windows Secrets on
Feb. 12.

To its credit, the site-rating service — which was acquired in 2006 by the security firm McAfee Inc. — is publishing a phone number for complaints and says it will reverse within days any genuine rating errors that are brought to its attention.

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SiteAdvisor ratings may be 1 year out-of-date

The free SiteAdvisor browser add-in claims to protect you by labeling Web sites green, yellow, or red to indicate that they are safe, questionable, or dangerous.

But a good or bad SiteAdvisor rating can persist for as long as a year after the site’s content has changed, raising serious questions about the service’s usefulness.

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Microsoft blinks, and users of Windows 7 UAC win

In my Feb. 5
column,
I took Microsoft to task for allowing any Trojan horse to silently disable the protection provided by User Account Control (UAC) in the soon-to-be-released Windows 7.

Microsoft execs initially implied that this problem wouldn’t be fixed, but the company abruptly changed its tune and now states that UAC will be protected from sneaky changes. Bravo!

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Watch a live video, share your PC with CNN

Many people who watched live streaming video of the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 may not realize that their PC was used to send the video to other PCs, too.

Clicking “yes” to a CNN.com dialog box installed a peer-to-peer (P2P) application that uses your Internet bandwidth rather than CNN’s to send live video to other viewers.

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