The advanced system-recover toolkit

Susan bradley By Susan Bradley

You probably know and use various real-time antivirus tools, but there are also advanced security tools that work under the operating system.

Many of these are based on Linux and help scan, fix, or even reset Windows passwords.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that small businesses are increasingly the target of cyber attacks. That made me think about the tools I use to secure the computer I use for online banking, which has to be as secure as possible (and practical). The report also reminded me to keep a more watchful eye on what my system is doing.

If you want to build an advanced system-cleaning and -recovery toolkit, here are my recommendations. Some of these tools have been around for a while, and some are in beta. Test them out and see what you find — you might be surprised.

Making it more difficult for malware to hide

Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper. Microsoft finally has its own offline tool — currently in beta — that lets you build bootable media and scan a system without running the installed (and possibly corrupted) version of Windows. Historically, this capability has required Linux and a third-party app. It’s nice to see Microsoft stepping up to the bar and offering its own version.

The System Sweeper (shown in Figure 1) scans for malware from a clean, protected environment. After you reboot your PC with the System Sweeper–created media, it’s considerably harder for malware to trick the operating system. Try it out. Go to System Sweeper’s home site and download it, then follow the instructions in a Security Garden blog. System Sweeper can boot from a USB flash drive or a CD-ROM.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2011-07-28:

Susan Bradley

About Susan Bradley

Susan Bradley is a Small Business Server and Security MVP, a title awarded by Microsoft to independent experts who do not work for the company. She's also a partner in a California CPA firm.