Top Story

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, 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SiteAdvisor ratings may be 1 year out-of-date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
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 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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Keep the latest worm infestation off your PC

It’s been a hellacious week for security admins all over the world: the polymorphic worm known as Downadup, Conficker, and Kido has infected millions of computers.

Fortunately, you can scan, scour, and secure your systems by following four relatively simple steps.

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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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