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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    Windows Secrets PC Security Baseline




    IN THE WILD

    Windows Secrets PC Security Baseline

    By Robert Vamosi

    You wouldn't drive your car at night without at least buckling up and turning on the headlights, so why would you surf the Web without using basic safety procedures?

    Our Windows Secrets Security Baseline is a simple summary of the products and services that give PC users a minimum safe PC configuration.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2011/02/17/07 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
    New Lounger
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    Can you also advise on a good, free, firewall for Windows in the PC Security Baseline?

    (I've used ZoneAlarm for many years, but have uninstalled it after getting thoroughly irritated by their nag screens to buy a paid-for version. I'm currently using Comodo, but amn't particularly impressed with it.)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by WeeBaldie View Post
    Can you also advise on a good, free, firewall for Windows in the PC Security Baseline?

    (I've used ZoneAlarm for many years, but have uninstalled it after getting thoroughly irritated by their nag screens to buy a paid-for version. I'm currently using Comodo, but amn't particularly impressed with it.)
    If you have a good router with a firewall I believe that the Windows firewall is sufficient.

    Joe

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    Free firewall versions are always less interesting than the paid versions. I use Online Armor (a paid version), but there is a free version. I like it a lot and wouldn't do without it.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    I agree with joeperez. Adding a software firewall if you have a router just opens the door to more things that can go wrong and/or slow down your PC. There are tons of postings where softwrae and network ills are cured by disabling software firewalls.

    Jerry

  6. #6
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    It takes a little poking around to find all of Comodo's protections. They aren't all turned on by default. Defense+ and Comodo DNS are options when installing. And there are settings which can be cranked up for better protections, or cranked down for easier use and better compatibility with application software. But the most important thing about Comodo is to read and respond to the alert pop-ups. That is a fine art, and I think Comodo leaves too much decision making to the end user.

    It is true that as long as you are at home or at the office and can control your router settings, the hardware firewall plus the built-in Vista or Windows 7 Firewall may be all the firewall protection you need. That's what I use on my Toshiba Satellite at home. If you travel with a laptop, however, I think you might want to add a software firewall with HIPS, at the minimum.
    -- Bob Primak --

  7. #7
    2 Star Lounger
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    An important security task to do wasn't mentioned: change your DNS provider to something known and fixed. I use OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com/, 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220), or google (http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/, 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4). No so important on a desktop computer, but for a laptop you really need to not let anybody provide DNS.

  8. #8
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    I use
    - Microsoft Windows Update,
    - CNET’s TechTracker, and
    -Secunia’s PSI
    to let me know which programs have been updated. CNET usually finds more software updates than Secunia PSI, probably because most of my utility downloads are also on CNET’s download site. Most of the time the updates listed on Secunia are also listed on CNET.

    One advantage of Secunia is the “offending” out of date file is identified (occasionally useful for some of the Adobe freeware and other software that is installed with updated version information in the file name, but the old software is not removed).
    Currently Secunia is complaining about Vista not being secure because I held off on several updates as recommended in last Thursdays Patch Watch.

    TechTracker: I have hidden the Office 2007/2010 updates since I am currently using Office 2003 and have no intention of updating at this time. Occasionally I have to “Skip” (hide until updated again) a program that TechTracker insists is out of date, even though the latest program updates have been applied.

    I also have other utilities that come from Source Forge, but have not seen any updater alert programs.

    Secunia’s offending file information is not always correct, as was the case about a year or two ago when a Microsoft DLL was out of date, but Secunia listed the .exe file. (Microsoft update also did not install the updated DLL. I had to download, extract, and install it by hand.)

  9. #9
    New Lounger
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    You criticize the Netgear N600 Router (Model WNDR3400) for not having gigabit Ethernet, but fail to mention that Netgear has a gigabit version (Model WNDR3700). It is more expensive than its 10/100 only sibling, running about the same price as the D-Link DIR-825 ($130) but otherwise shares the same features.

    I got the WNDR3700 to replace a Cisco (Linksys) dual band wireless router that refused to maintain WiFi connections on either band, even after dumping the original firmware for DD-WRT. I was also never able to get USB attached storage to work reliably. The Netgear product has been solidly reliable, fast, and the USB storage actually works.

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