Tag Archives: security

Turn Off WPS

Most current routers have a feature enabled called WPS, which stands for WiFi Protected Setup. The purpose of WPS is to make it easy to associate devices with your WiFi network. It has two main methods, the push-button method and the PIN method.

Unfortunately, the PIN method is easily cracked, for example with a tool such as Reaver, part of Backtrack 5 as we described.

Therefore you should turn off the WPS Pin in your router. This is usually under “Advanced Router Settings” in your router configuration. This will protect you from a WPS attack allowing someone to get onto your network.

You would check off the box above for “Disable Router’s PIN”.

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 Beta

My favorite free security software for Windows is Microsoft Security Essentials from Microsoft, the folks who should be protecting their operating system.

Microsoft just came out with a beta of their next version, Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 featuring:

  • Windows Firewall integration– allows you to turn on or off the Windows Firewall during setup.
  • Enhanced protection from web-based threats – integrates with Internet Explorer to provide improved protection against web-based attacks.
  • New protection engine – offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities with better performance.
  • Network inspection system – protects against network-based exploits.

To get the new version, go to the Microsoft Connect site and fill out the beta registration information. Then you’ll see instructions for downloading and installing the beta.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft officially released Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) today. It is a free tool to protect your computer from malware, viruses, spyware, rootkits, and trojans. Unlike the previously released Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), MSE runs all the time and actively searches for threats.

Blurb from Microsoft:
Microsoft Security Essentials

Early tests show MSE to be very effective at catching threats. It updates itself automatically and without hassle.

It takes over all antivirus functions and is recommended to be run as the ONLY antivirus software on a computer. You should not run it alongside other popular software such as Norton Antivirus, McAfee, or AVG. Presumably this would cause the antivirus software to fight it out on your computer, hurting system resources and confusing one antivirus program, for example, when it finds a virus in the other antivirus’ quarantined vault.

I recommend this for all Windows computers: Windows XP, Vista, and 7.  The only exceptions are pirated versions of Windows since MSE requires Windows Genuine Advantage to run and make sure that your copy of Windows is legit.

MSE has a small footprint with low minimum requirements:

  • For Windows XP, a PC with a CPU clock speed of at least 500MHz and at least 1GB of RAM
  • For Windows Vista and Windows 7, a PC with a CPU with clock speed of at least 1.0GHz and at least 1GB of RAM
  • VGA (display): 800×600 or higher
  • Storage: 140MB of available hard-disk space
  • An Internet connection is required for installation and to download the latest virus and spyware definitions

MSE Quick Scan

Emergency Microsoft Patches

Bad news from Microsoft. Below is an excerpt from the Washington Post article titled Microsoft’s Emergency Patch Mess.

Microsoft today released a pair of emergency software updates (Redmond calls them “out-of-band” updates). Yes, that’s right folks: If you use Windows — and especially if you browse the Web with Internet Exploder Explorer – it’s once again time to update.

The backstory to these patches is a bit complex, so here’s the short version: A while back, Microsoft introduced several security flaws into a set of widely-used third-party software development tools, and today it’s correcting that error by issuing an updated set of tools. Another update tries to block attackers from exploiting those weaknesses while third-party software makers figure out how to fix their code with the updated tools.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most dire and far-reaching, Eric Schultze, chief technology officer at Shavlik Technologies, said he’d put the seriousness of today’s out-of-band patch releases at an 8.

“When I was at Microsoft, there were a couple of issues that we referred to as ‘Voldemort,’ meaning they were so nasty you didn’t even want to speak their names, and this one is kind of like ‘Son of Voldemort,'” Schultze said. “You really start to lose confidence in Microsoft’s security mechanisms when something like this happens.”