Top Story

Has your PC become a spammer’s botnet zombie?

Worldwide spam traffic dramatically dropped after a major spam server was temporarily shut down last fall, raising public awareness of botnets: networks of PCs that have been turned into spam-spewing robots.

Most antivirus applications are ill-equipped to stop this kind of malware, but you can reduce the risk of having your PC become zombified.

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XP deadline extended toward launch of Windows 7

Microsoft has acknowledged that it will allow system builders to pay for installed copies of XP through May 30, rather than shutting down the pipeline this month.

If you order from your preferred vendor by Jan. 31, you may be able to rely on XP for new systems almost right up until the long-awaited Windows 7 ships, an event that’s expected to occur within a few months.

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Access more memory, even on a 32-bit system

No matter how much memory you have in your PC, you may not be getting the most out of your installed RAM.

A few little-known system tweaks can improve the way Windows manages memory, freeing up more RAM for your applications.

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Microsoft patches IE, but Firefox is still safer

Microsoft recently announced that a special, out-of-cycle patch would be released on Dec. 17 for Internet Explorer’s latest security vulnerability, the so-called XML exploit.

If you’d like to avoid similar weaknesses that are certain to be discovered in IE in the future, the simple solution is to use a different browser, such as Firefox, with a few easy customizations that allow you to switch to Microsoft’s browser only for sites that absolutely require IE.

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Microsoft DHCP bugs make Windows lose networking

Numerous perplexed Windows users have discovered that attempting to connect their PCs (especially Vista) to their existing networks or Wi-Fi hotspots results in flaky or nonexistent connections.

One reason: a change by Microsoft in Vista’s Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) is causing conflicts with some networking hardware, which can require a Registry edit to fix.

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XP Service Pack 3 blocks .NET security patches

Installing SP3 on Windows XP eliminates the operating system’s ability to install important security patches for Microsoft’s .NET technology and possibly other software.

This problem forces XP SP3 users to apply patches manually to complete vital updates.

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Antivirus tools try to remove Sinowal/Mebroot

I wrote last Thursday about ways to protect your PC from infection by Sinowal/Mebroot, a devilishly effective rootkit that can evade antivirus programs.

This week, I’ll concentrate on the best available techniques to try to remove the offender, if you’re one of the unfortunates who’ve already been hit.

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Don’t be a victim of Sinowal, the super-Trojan

The sneaky “drive-by download” known as Sinowal has been, uh, credited with stealing more than 500,000 bank-account passwords, credit-card numbers, and other sensitive financial information.

This exploit has foiled antivirus software manufacturers time and again over the years, and it provides us in real time a look at the future of Windows infections.

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How to maintain XP after Microsoft ends support

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
said recently
that it’s OK with him if you want to stick with Windows XP until Windows 7 is available late next year.

XP lovers may still be able to buy a new PC with that operating system installed for another year or so, but unfortunately, Microsoft plans to end most free support for the OS within months.

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These speedup utilities aren’t worth your money

Can you really get the extra oomph you want for your system just by shelling out a few bucks for a speedup program?

Many effective utilities do exist, but in my testing I found three that I consider to be just a waste of your hard-earned cash.

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