I’ve spent most of this year — I’m tempted to say “wasted most of this year”
— writing about Windows security holes, patches, patches of patches, threats,
and vulnerabilities, both real and imagined.
Reviewers of computer products often exhibit maddening differences in their
ratings of identical sets of items. But when several unrelated reviewers all
pick the same product as Editors’ Choice, you can be sure you’ve found a real
I’ve always found it hard to locate trustworthy ratings of Windows products
using search engines. Now you don’t have to wade through page after page of
e-tailers’ listings — I’ve scoured every available published test to pick the
best for my first Gear of the Year awards.
No doubt you’ve read about Microsoft’s new Outlook antiphishing software, built into
the recent Office 2003 Service Pack 2. Some of the media coverage I’ve seen
sounds like it was copied, verbatim, from the company’s press releases.
The last few years, I’ve found myself doing quality-assurance work
for a vendor that sells software to large enterprise customers. That means,
among other things, that I’m responsible for checking the updates and patches that go out
to those customers.
Things are moving so quickly in the world of spyware that the major computer
magazines should really retest all antispyware applications every three months
or so. Fortunately, three new reviews have come out just in the past
week to give us fresh results.
Burned users howled when they ran into problems with the new, 6.0 version of
ZoneAlarm Pro and ZoneAlarm Security Suite last month — but the makers of
the award-winning software have now released an update
that they say corrects the errors.
It should be fun and harmless to play podcasts — short radio and
television programs that download automatically from the Internet. But dumb programming
mistakes in popular media players can allow spyware to silently infect your PC
while an apparently innocent multimedia file is playing.
The developers of Greasemonkey, a popular “extension” for the Firefox browser and
other Mozilla Foundation software, released on July 30 a new version
that corrects a serious security flaw. I warned about this risk in a brief
news update on July 21, 2005.