Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are you vulnerable?

Here's an easy way to make your home Windows PC a little more secure and less susceptible to viruses and malware:  Be an average user.  If you read any Microsoft Security Bulletin, you'll frequently find the phrase "Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights."  I was reminded of this as I read the latest Bulletin from Microsoft.  Check out the Executive summary, it's in there :  August 10th Security Bulletin.

What does this mean?  If you have one user account that everyone at home uses, it's configured with computer administrator privileges.  Create a separate account for the computer administrator, and set your other accounts to "Limited" privileges (Depending on your version of Windows, this may be a "Restricted" or "Standard" user type).  Use the administrator account when you need to install software or perform some other function requiring the higher privileges.  Use your Limited account for normal web browsing, etc.  Granted, there will be times when you absolutely must do something with higher privileges - for these you can use the "Run as" option for these situations (right-click on your icon to see the "Run as..." option).

Why would you want to do this?  When a hacker creates a malicious script or virus, they will sometimes try to manipulate files that require the administrator privilege.  If you're running as an average user and somehow come across one of these malicious attempts to do damage, the script will fail due to the lack of privileges.  It's a good step to take on the road to safe computing along with installing a reputable virus & malware scanner.

If you're an average user, run with administrator privileges at your own risk.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Camping 2010

Daydreaming, catching the last few minutes of the sun, my neck and shoulders relaxed for the first time all day. Off on our first camping trip, I found myself propped up on the picnic table with no one nearby save a camper tending to his grill about 50 feet away... as camping novices, we had nothing but a few coolers of deli meats and chicken salad. No worries. While I was a bit hungry, I was savoring the quiet time and delaying the next activity... As I closed my eyes, I also savored the smell of steak wafting through the air... I opened my eyes to 2 sizeable steak tips on a plate held by camping neighbor... "I thought you might want to try some - I watched this cow grow, butchered her myself!" my new friend said with glee. Yep, We were in Maine.

Later in the evening my wife and I joined the kids poolside (ok, this wasn't TRUE camping) for a make-your-own sundae. This led nicely into the concert from the band Coos Canyon, a stunning surprise given the cost (no charge!) and locale. We're at a campground, right? These guys were extremely talented, and generated lots of dancing. Did I mention my new friend showed up with his wife and kid? He also bought us a couple rounds of beer. Steak tips, beer... was my new buddy separated from me at birth?

We returned to our campsite which was now in complete darkness. This was cured by a roaring fire. The night sky was lit with stars, promising another sunny day tomorrow. The kids were enjoying themselves, interacting more than usual as they all enjoyed s'mores. It was fun to just sit and take it all in... no iPhone necessary. Yep, I turned it off for at least 36 hours during the weekend... it's good to get away from technology sometimes... give it a try.