Top Story

Free software finds your security flaws

Computer security covers a host of areas — password policies, software patches, account restrictions, protection against malware and more.

Fortunately, with the right software, you can get a complete security analysis of your system for free without hiring a costly consultant.

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PC rebooting? The cause may be MS OneCare

Installing Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s downloadable security suite, changes the settings of Automatic Updates without notifying users or honoring their update preferences.

This behavior may explain reports that Windows has been mysteriously installing patches and rebooting itself, even though users had completely shut down the Automatic Updates function.

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Free software on USB enables portable computing

USB flash drives are good for more than just storing and transferring files — with the right software, your flash drive can become a tiny computer.

Fortunately, you can find plenty of great software that not only runs on a USB flash drive, but is also completely free.

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Carry a flash drive instead of a laptop

You can avoid lugging a laptop everywhere installing your favorite apps on a USB flash drive and running them on any computer you want.

I’ll guide you in selecting a flash drive that’s best suited for portable software and tell you which apps you should install.

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Get free patching without Windows Update

Sept. 20
Sept. 27
articles about silent and flawed upgrades involving Windows Update have made many people wonder whether they should really trust Microsoft’s installer.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to Windows Update that will keep your system fully patched without costing you a dime.

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Stealth Windows update prevents XP repair

A silent update that Microsoft deployed widely in July and August is preventing the “repair” feature of Windows XP from completing successfully.

Ever since the Redmond company’s recent download of new support files for Windows Update, users of XP’s repair function have been unable to install the latest 80 patches from Microsoft.

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Protect yourself from silent Windows updates

Microsoft has confirmed Windows Secrets’
Sept. 13
story that Windows Update periodically installs certain files even if you’ve selected a “do not install” option.

Many companies and individuals require prior notification before any files are changed, so I explain today how you can completely prevent silent installs, if you wish.

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Microsoft updates Windows without users’ consent

Microsoft has begun patching files on Windows XP and Vista without users’ knowledge, even when the users have turned off auto-updates.

Many companies require testing of patches before they are widely installed, and businesses in this situation are objecting to the stealth patching.

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Unpatched software abounds on user systems

Readers of the Aug. 16
issue of Windows Secrets took our advice and used the Secunia Software
Inspector service in droves.

The results show that — even though our readers are more tech-savvy
than the average computer user — thousands of you apparently still
use computers with unpatched software.

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Media players more dangerous than Windows

Windows users face the greatest security risks today
not from flaws in Windows itself but from unpatched media players.

That’s because many Windows Secrets readers, according to an online
test we sponsored, are running versions of Flash, Java, and QuickTime
that are unpatched against the latest security

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