As Christmas is rapidly looming, those of us of a technical bent will be facing the holiday season with a certain amount on trepidation as we wait for a relative or friend to utter the words “You work in IT don’t you? Can you have a quick look at the PC I got at Christmas”. This invariably ends up being a marathon slog as the PC in most circumstances is still in the box in which it came and needs to be set up and configured.
As we all know an unpatched PC can be infected quicker than it takes to download the latest virus signature files, leaving you in a catch 22 situation of do I connect onto the Internet to download the latest virus signatures and risk getting infected in the process. Research at the SANS Institute shows an unprotected Windows XP computer has a 20 minute survival time on the Internet. In some cases this is less time for it to take to purchase and download the latest anti-virus software. Further to this the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation conducted an interesting experiment to see if the above findings were true. This video shows their results. The Canadian Broadcasting Company also provide a guide on how to protect yourself online available here. SANs also published their Windows XP: Surviving the First Day guidelines on how to ensure the safety of your relative’s PC.
On top of that the slew of patches to be downloaded can leave you staring at an hourglass while others are merrily indulging in mince pies. But as it is the season of goodwill, Heise Security has developed their “Offline Update 3.0” which is available on their website.
Don’t forget anti-virus and anti-spyware software and for the home users they can get AVG from Grisoft and Microsoft Defender. Both products are free for home users.
For those of you who have to advise friends or relatives regarding wireless networks, then the following may prove useful;
An online tutorial from GetNetWise on how to secure your wireless network with video tutorials as to how to configure wireless routers from Linksys, Netgear and Apple.
Also another useful online tutorial from the Washington Post newspaper with a series of video guides on how to secure and protect your PC.
The following online movie gives a good overview of an “Anatomy of a Hack”. While the video promotes Fiberlink’s products it demonstrates how a hacker can quickly exploit a vulnerability on a machine that is not properly protected. Quite a useful video to drive the message home to the average user.
Hopefully the above will make the visits to friends and relatives more festive.
To all our readers have a Cool Yule!