Dear friend,

 

Welcome to the Oct 24, 2009 issue of
CompuNerds.Net-News

 

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The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. So here goes!

PortableApps now includes freeware! Starting Oct. 22, the www.PortableApps.com website is packaging freeware for their menu system that isn't open-source software, but is still free, including Skype, Free Commander and SpyDLLRemover - all excellent programs to add to your PortableApps.

It's good to regularly check for updates of your spyware and rootkit detection program and run it - here's why (I just discovered this on the Internet):

"This rootkit has been designed to be able to run under the lowest privileges for a given account under Windows. Indeed, it doesn't use any administrative privilege to be able to perform its stealth as it resides directly inside processes that are owned by the current user. In a word, all the Ring 3 programs that a user might use to enumerate files, processes, registry keys, and used ports are closely controlled so they won't reveal unwanted things. Meanwhile, the rootkit silently waits for passwords, allowing the load of any device driver as soon as an administrator password is caught."

Then the evil website I found goes on to give detailed instructions on how to build a "userland" rootkit. This nasty critter inserts itself in ring 3, or userland, where your user files, applications and network connections reside and run. Rings 0 and 1 are the tightly-secured Windows kernel and operating system. Ring 2 includes programs and processes that require an administrator password. Ring 3, however, doesn't require an admin password, so it's the easiest for hackers to penetrate, make their rootkits invisible, and silently watch for an admin password, website passwords and credit card numbers. That's why it's important to run an up-to-date spyware and rootkit detector. Once when running an anti-rootkit program on a client's computer I discovered a rootkit in the Recycle Bin - it was using "hidden" and "system" attributes to keep it from being discovered and deleted there, even when emptying the Recycle Bin. So right now, go to www.PortableApps.com, get SpyDLLRemover and run it!

Here's another great article on computer security: Schneier warns of marketers and dancing pigs. As for the title, the security expert Bruce Schneier says that the greatest threat to privacy isn't the government or hackers, but rather marketers; and given the choice, people will always choose dancing pigs over security. Read and enjoy the whole article!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Definition of status: buying things you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like.


Click on Online PC Support for worldwide PC service - tell your friends!

We've added a new link on the above Online PC Support page: go there, then click on the AA 12-Step Rehabilitation Plan link to see the 12 Steps we recommend to get your computer working securely and up to speed. These are the same steps we follow when helping other people secure, clean up and speed up their PCs, and now you can "Do-It-Yourself."

TODAY'S TOPIC: FLASH DRIVE SECURITY
On this new AA 12-Step Rehabilitation Plan page we tell you how to set up SafeHouse Explorer, a free program to encrypt your files on your flash drive. Your files on your hard drive are protected by your login password, and so the files on your flash drive should also be password-protected. In fact, this free program will secure your files even better on a flash drive than on your hard drive. How? Unless you have Windows XP Pro, Vista Business or Win-7 Business or higher versions and you turn on Windows Encrypting File System (EFS) to encrypt your Documents folder (or individual files), you can only do it with third-party software. In addition, the EFS feature uses your login password as the encryption key, so if you change or forget your password you can't get at your files. Of course, the same is true for an encrypted flash drive: if you forget your password, you can forget your data!

For this reason, or simply because of laziness most people don't bother with encrypting their Documents folder, thinking that their login password is sufficient protection. But if their computer is lost or stolen, or if someone is simply allowed to have unattended physical access to their computer, that person can simply boot it from a Linux live demo CD to copy all the files on the Windows partitions of the hard disk. Windows user account passwords don't mean a thing to Linux. Similarly, if your unencrypted flash drive is lost or stolen, the finder can get at all the files you've stored on it.

So my advice is to create an encrypted volume on your flash drive almost as large as that drive with SafeHouse Explorer, using a strong password consisting of capital and small letters plus a few numbers and/or special characters. Then copy your "My Documents" folder, the "PortableApps" folder and the "StartPortableApps.exe" program to this new encrypted volume. Copy the SafeHouse Explorer.exe program into the little remaining space on the unencrypted portion of the flash drive so that you can access your encrypted volume while you're using your flash drive in another computer.

You can drag-and-drop files to and from SafeHouse Explorer just like you can do with Windows Explorer. You can click on "StartPortableApps.exe" to run any of your PortableApps programs from the flash drive to access your encrypted documents on the flash drive. All this can be done without using an administrator password on a guest computer, such as in an Internet cafe. When you return to your own computer, use the FreeFileSync program to synchronize your new and changed files on your flash drive with those on your hard drive - see our AA 12-Step Rehabilitation Plan for the details on this.

You shouldn't consider synchronizing your flash drive with your hard drive as being the same thing as backing up your files - these are two different concepts, as we explain in our AA 12-Step Rehabilitation Plan.

If you want to completely secure your user files on your hard drive, you can create an encrypted volume there using SafeHouse Explorer - it will create volumes as large as 2,000 Gigabytes in an NTFS file system (but only up to 4 Gb in other file systems). Then move your user files into this new encrypted volume - moving your files using SafeHouse Explorer will overwrite the space they occupied with random data, thus obliterating any trace of them on the source disk.

Feel free to forward our CN.Net-News to a few friends (but don't spam!).

Yours truly,

Bob the CompuNerd

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