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Saturday, 26 April 2008

AVG Free - new version 8 available

The new version of AVG Free is available. Download it from here.

The new version has an improved interface, and integrates anti-spyware, as well as a Security Toolbar for IE and Firefox browsers, and a Link Scanner - all additional protection.

Installation notes:
Close other programs before installing.
Choose to let it automatically uninstall version 7.
Choose custom install.

Now, here are a couple of things you need to choose from:
1) if you find you end up with spyware and viruses on your computer occasionally or often, then you should install the Security Toolbar and leave the Link Scanner on.
2) if you are very careful and find you manage to not end up with spyware and or viruses on your computer, and you would prefer to continue to have your browser and internet speed perform as fast as possible, then do not install the Security Toolbar and turn off the Link Scanner.

Choose to install the Security Toolbar, or not.
Disable daily scanning (as this will slow things down every day - but remember to run a full system scan every once in a while).
Next, etc, ..... Finish
Allow Prevalance Reporter to access the internet (if your firewall asks).
Allow AVG updater to access the internet (if your firewall asks).
If you have decided you don't want Link Scanner running, you can turn if off now.

I am going to test having the Link Scanner enabled for a while to see if it slows things down much or not. I'll post my results in here in an update.

The Link Scanner does slow down the browser some, annoyingly slow at times. So, I've decided to remove it. To manually remove it and the security toolbar:
To install without the browser toolbar or the link scanner, or, to remove these if already installed:
Put installation file in root of C:
c:\avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch
Choose Repair if already installed and just removing the features.

Note: replace the * with the rest of the file name.

Another blog, Grand Stream Dreams has a great detailed review for advanced users.

I've found that after a while the Link Scanner does not slow things so much, so, you can leave it on.

To have the updates fully automatic, open AVG, click on Tools, Advanced settings, Schedules, Virus Database Update Schedule. Make sure the last 4 check boxes are checked off. Go to Program Update Schedule and make sure the last 4 check boxes are also checked off.

To configure the Email Scanner so it does not mark your messages, click on Email Scanner (in Tools, Advanced Settings) and make sure Check incoming and check outgoing are checked off, then UNcheck Certify email below each. Apply

To keep AVG from running an automatic scan every day, in Advanced, Tools, Schedules, Scheduled Scan, UNcheck Enable This Task.

I've found that you can install AVG Free 8 normally, and then if you don't want the Security Bar or the Link scanner features, you can disable them in the browser instead of repair installing and typing in all that stuff in Run.

To do this in IE - go to Tools, Manage Add-ons, and Enable or Disable Add-ons.
To do this in Firefox - go to Tools, and Add-ons.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Beware Unknown Audio and Video Codecs - Spyware Infested

How did I get infected in the first place?
I've been seeing more and more people in my line of work with serious spyware infestations. One of the main ways that you can get things like Smitfraud-C, Spylocked, Vundo, Virtumonde and their variations is to download suspicious codecs to supposedly get an on-line video or song to play. Another way is to download and install some sort of software that claims to be a security or system repair program. Most of these are actually spyware or some other nasty thing. Also, if you are using a peer to peer program like Kazaa, Bearshare, Limewire, etc to download music and other files, you need to be careful with the files once you have them. They could contain viruses or spyware or both. Scan them before you open them.

How Do I Keep From Getting Infected?
Heed all of the above. And research something new before downloading and installing it. When in doubt, ask a professional who knows about these things.
Keep your operating system up to date with all the updates that come up. Most of these updates patch security holes that the threats use to get into things and mess things up.
Keep your Java and Adobe Flash up to date. (and manually remove old versions of Java after updating)
Keep your Antivirus program up to date.
Keep your anti-spyware program up to date.
Don't have more than one antivirus program running at one time.
Run a full system scan for viruses and another for spyware regularly, or whenever you think you might have something.
And don't use Internet Explorer. Most threats written to mess up your browser, are written for IE. Use Firefox instead.

Windows Vista - Service Pack 1 - All Good

It's been weeks now since I installed SP1 for Vista. My computer works much better now. No crashes at all and programs start quicker and transfers are faster.

But, before you rush out and install SP1 (if you haven't yet) you need to take some things into consideration.
- If you have a new computer that runs Vista well, make sure you update your motherboard and other hardware drivers first
- If you have an older computer that does not run Vista well, you may encounter problems. Do research first on your particular hardware and SP1.
- If you are running old programs (more than a few years old), you may encounter problems. Research your programs and Vista before applying SP1

I do run some old programs, but they work fine in Vista with SP1.
I've also found that SP1 fixes some previously buggy Windows Updates and fixes the problems they created.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Zone Alarm Free firewall - Major Update Is Ready - 70_470_000

Another Zone Alarm Free Firewall major update is available. To download and install, follow the same instructions as last time - link to previous update post.
It should be pretty much the same. The new file you are downloading to install should be 70_470_000
Make sure to UNcheck the option for installing Zone Alarm Spyblocker (and any other extra thing they may add on).