As I Tweeted today, over the weekend I read Paul Cooke’s Windows Security Blog post on Windows 7 Vulnerability Claims. (I’ve added a few links if the terms are unfamiliar to you.)
"…most people don’t knowingly have and run known malware on their system. Malware typically makes it onto a system through other avenues like the browser or email program. So while I absolutely agree that anti-virus software is essential to protecting your PC, there are other defenses as well.
"Let me recap some of the Windows 7 security basics. Windows 7 is built upon the security platform of Windows Vista, which included a defense-in-depth approach to help protect customers from malware. This includes features like User Account Control (UAC), Kernel Patch Protection, Windows Service Hardening, Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), and Data Execution Prevention (DEP) to name just a few. The result, Windows 7 retains and refines the development processes, including going through the Security Development Lifecycle, and technologies that made Windows Vista the most secure Windows operating system ever released.
"Beyond the core security of Windows 7, we have also done a lot of work with Windows 7 to make it harder for malware to reach a user’s PCs in the first place. One of my favorite new features is the SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer 8. The SmartScreen Filter was built upon the phishing protection in Internet Explorer 7 and (among other new benefits) adds protection from malware. The SmartScreen Filter will notify you when you attempt to download software that is unsafe…"
I agree with Paul and that you should run anti-virus software on Windows 7; our Microsoft Security Essentials is one such way to help keep your PC free of such issues and is available for free.
But you also need to remember: don’t be a victim… be a participant in your own rescue. (So says our COO Kevin Turner, paraphrased ;).
As I noted in an post from 2006, no matter what OS you run, it doesn’t matter: be prepared. Make you that you have the latest updates to all of your software. Generally, consumers should set up their computers install updates automatically: Windows users may do this by ensuring Automatic Update (AU) is turned on to get the latest updates. (In managed environments (like corporations where an IT Pro manages your machine), talk to your administrator to learn about your updates.) You can also visit Windows Update for the latest updates, but the easiest way is to turn on AU.
"In a comment I received to a recent blog posting on being careful when it comes to viruses, I wanted to mention something when it comes to computer security: whether you have a PC or a Mac, you will have to be concerned about security and protect yourself.
If you own a computer – PC or Mac (and we have both at home) – you should run AV software, have a firewall on your internet connection and practice "safe computing."
"But we have to be careful to reach broad-based conclusions. It’s better to anticipate an attack and be prepared and protected rather than hope that you won’t be the victim of an attack. As I said in a past post, see our Security at home site for more ideas on how to protect your computer. It has info on avoiding online scams with the Microsoft Phishing Filter, anti-virus, anti-spyware, security updates, Office and Windows update tools… well worth your time. Mac users can look here on Apple’s site for more info on protecting your Mac."
For Mac users, of interest is eWeek’s Larry Seltzer’s article on "What Will Apple Do When the Malware Comes?"
As noted in my post earlier this year, follow these six tips for staying safe online, as provided in this article in the Seattle Times on cybersafety:
- Protect your privacy and personal information
- Be alert online
- Delete junk e-mail
- Use strong passwords
- Use antivirus software and a firewall
- Be smart about downloading
Pay particular attention to that last item. As I wrote here, you should only download software from a trusted source – for example, via Microsoft for our products and service – and avoid peer to peer to save yourself an additional security risk.
Additional information and guidance:
Tags: Windows Vista, Security, what I read, twitter, Microsoft, Windows 7, Microsoft Security Essentials.
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