Author Archives: Brian Livingston
Microsoft acknowledged this week a new weakness that allows hacked
Web sites to infect PCs merely displaying specific images in the Internet Explorer
Our newsletter and Web site will sport a new logo, shown above,
beginning with our next regular issue on Sept. 14.
We wanted to surprise you, but we figured we’d better give you some warning. We didn’t
want you to open your e-mail next month and think unknown people were sending you some
new, weird newsletter. Nope, it’s just the same old weird
Readers have asked me, “How quickly is my computer protected after Patch
Tuesday, if I have auto-updates turned on?”
The question arises because most of the patches that Microsoft posted on
Aug. 8 took a lot longer than
usual to download. It appears that Windows Update, when configured to
download and install patches automatically, didn’t start downloading most
patches until three days after Patch Tuesday. Some PCs didn’t auto-install all
of the security patches until nine days had passed.
A sweeping review of 10 security suites published in a major computer magazine
last month featured some very unlikely rankings for this crucial category of products.
After examining the evidence, I’ve found that some material facts were omitted from
the article, rendering its ratings useless.
As though we didn’t have enough to worry about with viruses and worms, my
readers are reporting all kinds of trouble with the IE7 beta, Windows Update,
and Microsoft’s little-known dumprep.exe program.
I’ll show you how to get over these and other software gotchas in the tips
The shock waves caused Microsoft’s decision to quietly install Windows Genuine
Advantage through its security update mechanism are still being felt my
The marketplace for non-Microsoft antivirus packages, security suites, and the
crowded with well-known competitors. contrast, the field of Windows Update alternatives is new and
the players are little-known. Until more reviews have been published major
test labs, I’ll keep bringing you my findings and the comments of Windows users
who are doing their own analyses.
I announced in the July 13 newsletter that Shavlik Technologies, a well-known
patch-management vendor, had released a free and capable
replacement for Microsoft’s Windows Update (WU) service.
The Shavlik program, known as NetChk Protect, is free for
up to one year, can remotely update 1 to 10 PCs from a single PC on a network, and
supports far more programs than Microsoft’s offering does.
I can’t remember a time when the newsletter has received more heartfelt tips
from readers than the controversy of the last two months over Microsoft’s
automatic downloading of Windows Genuine Advantage, which phoned home every 24
More than 300 well-thought-out comments streamed in. We’ll never be able to respond in full to everyone individually, but we hope
this section will serve to recognize everyone’s help while giving you the useful info you need.
In my last issue, I reported that Microsoft’s in-house Windows Update routine
is now likely to download marketing gimmicks such as Windows Genuine Advantage to your
PC. I advised all Windows users, other than novices, to turn off Automatic
The Internet interprets Microsoft as damage and routes around it.
My apologies to John Gilmore for tweaking his famous 1993
quote about censorship. But the above statement just happens to sum up the
alternatives Windows users are adopting ever since Microsoft’s “Windows Genuine
Advantage” (WGA) debacle.