Sunday, December 30, 2007

One in five PCs infected with rootkits?

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an entry from Tom in his Malware Advisor blog with that glaring headline about one in five PCs with rootkit infections.

The Malware Advisor post pointed to an article at PC World which details results from people scanning with the Prevx CSI service. The statistics from the scans indicated a sharp increase in the number of rootkit infections. In my last issue of this newsletter, I wrote a bit about trying out a new scanner I'd found. It was called Prevx CSI. Small world, ain't it?

After reading Tom's post at Malware Advisor, I went to his security forum and I asked him if he thought there was any truth to the statistics. He didn't disagree with the article, but he hadn't seen any sharp increases in the forums. Later on in that forum thread, Lusher, one of the regulars here, posted his opinions as well.

The PC World article may or may not contain the whole story. In any case, rootkits are something you should worry about and I've posted reviews of a few rootkit scanners you might want to try out sometime.

If you ever have a suspicion that you do have a rootkit or other infections on your PC, be sure to drop by the Temerc forums and post a question for Tom. He'll get back to you lickety-split with just the right advice.

Quote from the website
More than 725,000 PCs were scanned using the Prevx CSI malware scanner over a two-month period. Of the around 291,000 users who scanned their PCs during October 2007, some form of spyware or malware was found on one in six.

Significantly, although rootkits were detected on 15.6% of PCs during October 2007, that figure had risen to 22% by early December.
Read the PC World article here

Friday, December 28, 2007

UltraDefrag - open source Windows defragger

You have quite a few good choices when it comes to free disk defragmenters. Here are a few I've written about in the past.

Now I've found a new one called UltraDefrag and it's FOSS (free and open source software). I couldn't really find anything I didn't like about it.

I found 3 versions of it at the download page. I believe the i386 version is the one most of you should use. It looks like there are versions for AMD and 64bit as well.

Quote from the website
UltraDefrag is powerful Open Source defragmentation tool for Windows NT. It is very fast, because the defragmenting is done by kernel-mode driver. They are three interfaces to them: graphical, console and native. The GUI is very useful, because it represents your filesystem visually as a color coded cluster map. The console is another option for those that prefer the command line. It is also allows you to run UltraDefrag from the task scheduler and scripts. Finally, the native executable will run at boot time in a manner similar to chkdsk.


tinySpell - a tiny spell checker for Windows

Recently, I was asked how to spell check pages at PBwiki, my webhost and employer. I answer all kinds of questions there as email tech support. I don't think I answered that one very well because I told them that PBwiki doesn't offer spell check when you are editing pages. What I should have told them about is the free spell-checker called tinySpell.

I'm sure many of you might remind me that Firefox already supports spell checking in text windows and forms. Sure it does, but it doesn't always work in AJAX driven windows such as WYSIWYG editors. The spell check in Firefox doesn't help the crowds of people who still use IE6 and IE7. For those of you who wish to add spell checking in Internet Explorer, you may want to try ieSpell.

I found that tinySpell worked very nicely in the PBwiki WYSIWYG editor once I'd gotten used to stopping whenever it beeped at me to indicate a misspelled word. When I selected a larger area of text, it also beeped to indicate any misspellings and helped me find where they were located.

I would prefer to get a visible indication when I misspelled words, but I can't complain. After all, it's a free application and it works exactly as it was designed. If I wanted more features, I could pay for a license of the tinySpell+ version.

image Quote from the website
Occasionally you need to check the spelling of words in an application that does not include a spelling checker and you don't want to launch your word processor just for that. This is when tinySpell becomes handy. It is a small utility that allows you to easily and quickly check the spelling of words in any Windows application.
tinySpell can watch your typing on the fly and alert you whenever it detects a misspelled word. It can also check the spelling of text that you copy to the clipboard.
tinySpell installs itself in the system tray for easy access. It comes with an American-English dictionary containing more than 110,000 words.


WOT - plugin helps identify bad websites

How often do you end up at a website and wonder if it's safe to download a program there or to enter in an email address? If you already use SiteAdvisor, TrendProtect, or CallingId, you probably already have a good idea which sites are safe. WOT offers a similar protection to you but uses the power of all of it's users to help identify bad web sites.

I've been using WOT side by side with SiteAdvisor and I've gotten comfortable enough with it that I'm dumping SA in favor of WOT. I like the idea that I'm getting advice from fellow web surfers and not from a security company. We're all out there on the front lines and we need to stick together.

imageQuote from the website
Keep yourself protected from unreliable online vendors, spam, spyware, viruses, phishing and other scams. Unlike traditional security systems, WOT will warn you already before you interact with any suspicious websites. The color coding is like traffic lights: green to go, yellow to slow down and red to stop.

WOT has information on over 16 million websites.

Each community member can contribute. WOT is a democratic system where everyone can participate. You can share your knowledge to help other users surf safer by giving ratings to sites that you have used. The system processes ratings and calculates the reputation for each web site. Eventual attempts to manipulate the reputation data are eliminated by sophisticated algorithms.