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Microsoft / Windows, Rants, Security

The Trojan XPrience

You know what, there is a reason why you are not advised to visit sites that you do not trust when you’re running windows.

Yesterday, my trial version of Norton Antivirus 2007 expired. I never really buy an anti-virus because beta-tests are better since they are always updated. The thing is, you cannot really re-install it. Well, you can, but then you have to find the file that monitors how long you’ve been using that product and that file would not be deleted during uninstallation and its very hard to find since when windows says that its writing to <insert directory here> what it really means is that it’s also writing to …/windows and …/windows/system where you’ll never find it.

Anyway, I was surfing the net this morning when I visited a site where my pc downloaded a trojan virus. Sucks, right? Caught me on a time when I was defenseless. And why the hell am I using windows, you might ask? Well, I’ve been planning to switch to Ubuntu for ages now, its just that I haven’t had the time to do it. And tell you what, even if you’re running a licensed copy of windows, its not worth the trouble. So, knowing the kind of security windows provide, naturally, my pc got infected.

So, I decided to get another antivirus, McAfee this time. And so, I guess I should’ve said that McAfee saved my life. But no, thinking about it, it shouldn’t have need saving at all in the first place had windows known what they were doing. The thing with windows is that it uses a kind of default permit where programs that are not considered harmful are allowed to run on the system, i.e. malwares that are unknown to your system.

I mean, let’s face it. About 5% of computer users today runs Mac. So, shouldn’t it have 5% share of the virus pool? Last year it should’ve seen 4000+ viruses and not zero. The thing with Mac is that, unlike windows, every program that is unknown to it is considered potentially harmful thus asking the permission of the user whether or not to allow the program to run.

Default permit is a very dumb idea of user-friendliness compromising security thus resulting not so friendly things getting into and running in your system unoticed. And I thought this was an established fact in the system security community. Apparently, some people are yet to hear it.

So basically, an anti-virus works by defining programs that are harmful to your system. Thus, if it’s not updated, its useless since the rate at which viruses are discovered is relatively fast. McAfee solved this problem by overiding windows’ default permit thus blocking any new programs considering it potentially harmful. So, basically, when you run a program or when your start up registry is modified or even when you connect to a network for the first time, it asks you whether or not you will allow anything to run or allow a pogram to access the internet. This is a bit of a hassle but worth it in the long run.

So, I guess, it’s either I get a Mac or I install Ubuntu ASAP.

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About princess of antiquity

Abbi Cabanding is a member of the Security Bloggers Network and had been blogging on information security since 2006. She is also a member of the Association for Computing Machinery. She studied Computer Science and Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “The Trojan XPrience

  1. You can get a lot problems with conventional commercial antivirus companies. I suggest that you try out the best and free antivirus from AVG. Its completly free for personal use and has got the latest updates almost daily. The official website is http://www.grisoft.com and this company also features a nice anti spyware product called as Ewido. Both the products are sleek and do the best job. Wait, there more to tell.

    Apart from MS Windows, this softwae is also available under GNU/Linux platform. What more can anyone ask for?? Secure Linux with good protection maybe?? πŸ˜‰

    Do you like Ubuntu? Select your favourite Linux distribution over here – http://zohopolls.com/harshadjoshi/the-most-user-friendly-linux-distribution-in-the-market

    Regards. GNU/Linux is a good choice…

    Posted by Harshad Joshi | September 21, 10:47 pm, 10:47 pm
  2. The default installation of any GNU/Linux distribution is really not that secure; it depends on how you’re going to use your system. For webhosting (and other server capabilites that need interaction with guests), the original configuration of your distribution is NOT enough – you’ll have to fine tune it more to suit your taste. For simple desktop use, it is sufficiently enough, and VERY MUCH recommended by yours truly. πŸ˜€

    Whatever the case is, I’d still prefer any GNU/Linux distribution over M$ Wind0ze. πŸ˜‰

    PS. We have the same WordPress layout. Cool.

    Posted by ardzeii | September 26, 5:14 am, 5:14 am
  3. Hehe, thanks for the advice. I still haven’t installed Linux because my connection had been down for a week now… *sigh*

    and about the layout:
    well, great minds think alike, I guess… πŸ˜‰

    Posted by abbi | October 3, 5:52 pm, 5:52 pm
  4. I’d recommend giving Ubuntu, Solaris 10, Suse and Nexenta OS a try. You have to find the best distro for yourself. There may be recommendations from peers but at the end of the day, to each his own. Frankly, if only Nexenta OS (Ubuntu userland over Solaris kernel) works on my MacBook Pro, I would have used it as my secondary OS… running in a window on top of Mac OS X, of course.

    Posted by rom | October 4, 7:49 pm, 7:49 pm
  5. Thanks for the advice sir Rommel. I really hope I will have time this sem break to make the switch. πŸ˜€ I tried several live versions of different distros and I think I like Ubuntu. πŸ™‚
    *Sigh* I’m still hoping I can get my parents to buy me a Mac… πŸ˜€

    Posted by abbi | October 5, 3:34 am, 3:34 am

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