Making XP Secure 2 - Third Party Programs


By: Derek
August 25, 2012

As Windows XP Windows Security Updates finish on April 8, 2014, it is important to add additional security measures in order to compensate.  Where possible these steps should be chosen to help keep new viruses from being able to activate in your computer system.  This document assumes that a good Anti-Virus program is already in place and permanently running in the background.

At the time of writing there are several useful programs available that are either free or have free versions, including those discussed below.  None are AV’s and those under the heading "Other Security Considerations" are not even security programs but nevertheless good weapons to consider having in your security armory.

Avoid installing security products unless recommended by a reliable technical forum such as Computing.Net.  Security programs should only be downloaded from trustworthy websites. I have found "Filehippo.com" and "Majorgeeks.com" satisfactory in this respect.  As always, avoid any unwanted Toolbars, Downloaders or other programs that some websites might be pushing.

Infection blocking programs (prevention)
Neither of the programs suggested below use resources, except when updating, and do not conflict with Anti-Virus programs.  To some extent they meet the ideal of "prevention is better than cure" and are therefore strongly recommended.

CryptoPrevent

This prevents exe files running in areas used by "Cryptolocker ransomware".  As several infections are initiated from these same areas it can offer protection from other viruses too.  It is a very small program that only requires update from time to time and does not run in the background.  The program can be downloaded from here.

SpywareBlaster
This program is not strictly a security program but does have significant security implications.  It does not "run" but instead puts kill bits in the registry to block undesirable spyware, which is often an instigator of viral activities.  The program is just left in place, giving you protection without running in the background.  The database is updated about once a fortnight - performed manually with the free version.  After updating, select "Enable All Protection".  It also eliminates a lot of third party advertising on websites. You can download SpywareBlaster here.

Infection Removal Programs
The three programs given below are only run on demand so will not conflict with Anti-Virus programs.

MalwareBytes
This popular program can be run if it is thought that a virus might have already taken hold.  It often finds and fixes what AV’s can miss.  Even the quick scan, which usually only takes a few minutes, can be very effective.  It is best to get new updates about once a week. You can download MalwareBytes here.

SuperAntiSpyware
This acts in a similar way to MalwareBytes.  Unless you are short of hard disk space it is a worthwhile addition because not all programs detect the same viruses.  The scan takes longer than MalwareBytes but is thorough.  Again, it is best to get updates about once a week.  You can download SuperAntiSpyware here.

ADWCleaner
It is very easy to collect dubious and sometimes dangerous toolbar additions, especially when downloading free programs.  ADWCleaner does a very good job of removing them and is worth running occasionally.  Use the "Download Now @BleepingComputer" icon and Save the file.  Run the program by double clicking the saved file.  After the Scan it is usually quite safe to run the Clean but it is possible to make selections.  This program is updated very frequently requiring a replacement file. You can download ADWCleaner here.

Other Security Considerations

Alternative Browsers
Most viruses are injected when online, so the browser is one of your first lines of defense. Alternative browsers should therefore be considered, particularly in the context of MS ceasing security updates to Internet Explorer (IE).  Many other browsers keep their security measures updated.  Firefox is probably the one that looks and feels most like Internet Explorer and is considered by many to be safer than IE.

CCleaner
This program does not claim to tackle viruses.  Its prime function is to clear your computer of unnecessary files.  The reason for suggesting CCleaner in the context of security is that it can be invoked if some online activity causes the user to suspect that a virus attack attempt is being made.  Often the first port of call for a virus is in Temporary Internet Files, so running this cleaner immediately something suspicious is noticed might delete the file and prevent a virus from activating.  It would then be wise to restart the computer and run CCleaner again after Windows returns.  As an extra check, run MalwareBytes when CCleaner has finished. You can download CCleaner here.

Java
Finally, another entry point for infection can be the Java add-on's in browsers.  Consider turning these off via the Java icon in Control Panel (Security tab) by un-checking "Enable Java in the browser".  Few websites require these add-on's but if this change is made check that any websites regularly used for games, purchasing and banking still function afterwards.


See also the Howto "Making XP Secure 1 - Drop My Rights"


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