AntiVirus Gold – A program to avoid

Sunday’s ISC handler writes about an experience with AntiVirus Gold – a program that pretends to be a spyware scanner. Read about it here.

I recommend two high quality free packages, AdAware and SpyBot Search & Destroy.

Removing a spyware infection is getting harder and harder. In some cases, it’s far more cost effective to recover data as best one can, then format the hard drive and reinstall the operating system and program files.

Is there an alternative to Exchange?

Eweek reviews three groupware products: Group Where? Almost Anywhere

Are there alternatives to Exchange?

Yes… but the biggies (Domino and Groupwise) are no less expensive or demanding in terms of their server requirements. This review looks at three other products from the viewpoint of functionality and integration with Outlook.

Outlook? Yup. It’s one of the killer apps on the Microsoft desktop. Evolution and Thunderbird would like to be as good but, IMHO, they’re not. Evolution has an integrated calendar, but it doesn’t integrate nearly as well as Outlook’s. Thunderbird is still a first generation product and the calendar extension is buggy and prone to crashing.

Why would we be interested?

Exchange is expensive. There’s the Exchange server license fee, the Windows server license fee, and the per-user Client Access Licenses (CAL). Oh, and don’t forget the software assurance (SA) fee that allows covers upgrades during the SA period.

We’re sticking with Exchange for now, but keeping an eye on the horizon.

Needles and Haystacks: So much mail, so little time

I have only a few months of email in Outlook and I’m already struggling to find an email I know I’ve seen or written. Despite my best effort to use folders well, there’s just too much volume.

I’ve tested three free solutions for locating mail and documents on my computer. All three work well and I’m comfortable recommending any. Each installs easily and uninstalls cleanly.

  • Copernic Desktop Search
  • Copernic’s strength is that indexes a wide variety of files and emails and can go deeper into your computer’s file tree than the others. The weakness is that this makes the options a bit more complex.

  • Google Desktop Search
  • It works just like Google. You already know how to use it. When you search the web with Google, it will also show items from your desktop. (Only on the machine running the desktop software… Your data is not shipped to Google.) Of the three, this is the easiest to use.

  • LookOut for Outlook
  • Microsoft bought the company that produced LookOut to get the technology for its answer to the Google Desktop Search. This is the original product. It integrates directly into Outlook and focuses on searching email, but can be extended to search My Documents, too.

I’m currently using Copernic at the office and looking for a good Linux solution at home.

Setting up an LCD Monitor on Windows XP

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You’ve just put a new LCD monitor on your desk. It’s all connected. You’ve turned on your computer and…. disappointment! You need to put in about 10 minutes setting it up and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

Set the appropriate resolution

LCD monitors work best when the screen resolution is exactly the same as the number of pixels built into the monitor.

Determine the monitor’s optimal resolution

  • If you got a Dell 17″ UltraSharp (Model 1704FPV or 1704FPT), the optimal resolution is 1280×1024.
  • If you have another monitor, look in the pile of papers that came with the monitor.

Tell Windows to use that resolution

  • Right click on the Windows desktop.
  • Select Properties
  • Select Settings
    Move the Screen Resolution slider to the optimal resolution
  • Click OK

Enable ClearType
ClearType is a technology for subpixel rendering. OK, don’t click on that link. Take our word for it that it will improve the look of the characters on your screen.

  • Download the Microsoft ClearType Power Toy from Microsoft’s site.
  • Once installed, open the Control Panel and use “Clear Type Tuning” to tune your display settings.

OK, but stuff is too small to see.

  • Right click on the Windows desktop.
  • Select Properties.
  • Select Settings.
  • Click Advanced.
  • Change the DPI Setting dropdown from 96 to the next larger setting (probably 120).
  • Click OK.

Zero Day Exploits

From the Internet Storm Center:

 
>McD's Bomber Message Malware
 We've had several reports from folks reporting receipt of messages with the subject line "McDonald's bomber jailed for life". This message includes a link to various sites with the common domain lastrez_DONOTCLICK_.com. (_DONOTCLICK_ added for emphasis!)

Visiting the site redirects to a page "mc.html" on the same site that attempts to exploit the MS05-038 [4] bug, creating a file called w.hta. Handler David Goldsmith has called upon the Yesnic registry to stop resolving this domain, and the China-Netcom ISP to stop hosting this site, but at the time of this writing, the site is still operational. Organizations may want to consider blocking the site at 210.22.50.80 to prevent click-happy users from infecting their systems

Last Tuesday was Microsoft Patch Tuesday. As you know from my incessant emails, it’s the second Tuesday of every month. In the past, it took the hackers and evil doers a couple of days to reverse engineer the patches and design tools to exploit unpatched systems. The Internet Storm Center (1) is reporting that this has changed. They refer to it as the zero-day exploit problem. Attacks and exploits start circulating almost immediately.

We firewall our network and use a layered defense on incoming email (2) (3), but you can pick up some of these malware through websites. There is also some delay before our vendors detect the new malware and distribute the code to detect it.

Therefore, be cautious. If you see something suspicious, let us know. When you see the Microsoft auto-update icon in the system tray next to the clock, open it and install all security related updates. Don’t let it wait.

  1. Internet Storm Center: http://isc.sans.org
  2. Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition: http://www.sarc.com
  3. ClamAV: http://www.clamav.net
  4. Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-038: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS05-038.mspx