Windows Software

Spyware Horror Story: Once is enough

Published by Aaron; Arlington, Texas

My dad and I run a little tech support place for our neighborhood (we work for food). We have seen some nasty things around this area, but this next story is the worst. One of our family friends came over with her computer, telling us it was a "little" slow. So, we dragged my huge 17-inch CRT monitor with built-in speakers across the house to our little shop (not fun) and turned on the infected computer. We waited and waited until it finally loaded.

She (the family friend) had Ad-Aware loaded at the time, so we ran it, only for it to crash. At this point, we should have given up and just nuked the hard drive with a little Department of Defense-level program that writes zeros to every cell on the drive three times. But we didn't, and rebooted the computer in Safe Mode.

We then took a look at Ad-Aware and noticed that it hadn't been updated in a year, but we ran it anyway. Over 10,000 infections were picked up on an outdated program. At this point, we toyed with the idea of just taking out our gun and putting the PC out of its misery, but figured the owner wouldn't like that very much. So we tried to fix it.… Read more

Security patch for Thunderbird

Mozilla has released an update for its open-source e-mail client, Thunderbird. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, none of the changes in version are flagged as critical or high, but it's still a good idea to update. They address remote code execution, spoofed peer certifications, and crashes because of memory corruption.

There's been no new information on when Thunderbird 3 will be released, but if you want to try a buggy alpha version, Shredder is the Thunderbird 3 alpha release and is available.

Featured Freeware: Kruptos 2

This is easily one of the more useful freeware file encryption programs around. Kruptos 2's file menu and icon interface are the picture of simplicity. Encryption is almost effortless. You can drag and drop files to the Kruptos 2 window, and the latest version adds support for dragging and dropping folders.

The encryption algorithm is Blowfish 128-bit or 256-bit, and fast. A key feature obfuscates file names but leaves folder names unaltered. The program offers a feature to see original file names with the proper password, but it is invoked one file at a time. However, Windows integration means … Read more

Gloss: Flock goes fashionable

Social-networking savant Flock has announced a re-branded version of its browser aimed at fashionistas. At the very least, it's aimed at people who like the color pink and lipstick marks on their advertising. Called Gloss, it's a pink-and-purple themed edition of Flock 1.2 that comes with fashion-related feeds and bookmarks pre-loaded.

The list of baked-in feeds for the Windows-only Gloss includes Cosmopolitan, TMZ,, PopSugar, and These Boots Are Made for Stalking.

Gloss is getting pimped as a "fun" version of Flock, although I could've sworn that Flock received the same PR campaign … Read more

Featured Freeware: Pandora Recovery

The name Pandora originates in Greek mythology, and it means "all-giving." It's an appropriate name for Pandora Recovery, which can give you back files you've deleted--even those gone for months.

Now for NTFS and FAT-formatted volumes, Pandora functions by scanning the hard drive and building an index of existing files and deleted file markers. This, in turn, allows the dead files to be brought back to life--as long as the file format is currently supported by the computer. Users can browse for deleted files, search for specific ones, preview certain file types like images, and get … Read more

Featured Freeware: DExposE2

If you're looking for an Expose emulator to port that cool app-switching feature from the Mac to Windows, DExposE2 is probably about as close as you can get to a direct copy for either Windows XP or Vista. It gives them three choices for jumping between open programs, and it doesn't slurp up more RAM than it should.

Using the F9 key, you'll be able to minimize your applications to fit on the screen, then choose one to bring to the front by hitting Tab or left-clicking your mouse. F10 highlights only the active windows belonging to … Read more

Column: Will you be ditching your antivirus app anytime soon?

For the last few months, I've been hearing some well-regarded security people tell me they are considering ditching their antivirus protection all together. They haven't done it, but these individuals feel the days of having a special application scan to remove malware on your desktop are numbered. Malware has changed, but the applications to ferret them out have not.

Antivirus programs, as we know them today, are based on 20-year-old technology of pattern matching. Pattern matching may have worked in the days of the Micheangelo virus and even as recently as Netsky, but methodically matching each and every … Read more

Featured Freeware: Digsby

Digsby will easily be the instant messaging freeware of choice for the super social set. Web 2.0 fans, that's you. In addition to supporting the major IM networks--Yahoo, MSN, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, and Jabber--Digsby also pulls in Web mail feeds, as well as access to MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. Updating Twitter is a breeze from the application's main interface, though users wishing to do anything more than read Facebook and MySpace feeds will be redirected to their online accounts.

Windows users can initiate text, video, and audio chat from the conversation window, and transfer files, … Read more

Featured Freeware: TrueCrypt

The ultimate open-source encryption program, TrueCrypt is loaded with powerful features that those concerned with protecting their data from thievery should want--and have.

It offers 11 algorithms for encrypting your private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files (containers) or partitions (devices). TrueCrypt works hard to offer powerful data protection, recommending complex passwords, explaining the benefits of hidden volumes, and erasing telltale signs of the encryption process, including mouse movements and keystrokes. Though the interface may not be immediately intuitive, its powerful, on-the-fly encryption for no cost still earns the freeware security tool a … Read more

Featured Freeware: Lightning

Lightning makes Thunderbird soar above Outlook for home use, and places it on nearly equal ground in the office. It includes an overhauled interface with easy-to-use buttons for jumping between e-mail and your calendar, LDAP directory support for event invites, and Sun Java Calendar Server support.

Work on the plug-in is now handled by Mozilla as it prepares to integrate its code into Thunderbird for the big Version 3 update coming later this year, but that doesn't mean Lightning isn't ready to be used now. A menu bar for switching between mail and calendar views can live either … Read more