Windows Client UPDATE--Microsoft Enters the War on Spyware--January 20, 2005

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1. Commentary
- Microsoft Enters the War on Spyware

2. News & Views
- Microsoft Plots the Next Exchange Server Version

3. Resources
- Tip: "System Log Full" Errors
- Featured Thread: Featured Thread: New Year's Resolution: W2K3!

4. New and Improved
- Manage Your Backups
- Recover Unbootable Machines in Minutes
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==== 1. Commentary: Microsoft Enters the War on Spyware ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]


If I was asked what software I've recommended most during the past year, I'd probably have to say that it's a dead heat between Lavasoft Ad-Aware (http://www.lavasoftusa.com) and Spybot Search & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org). Although I don't think these are the greatest software products in existence, the problem associated with spyware and adware has become pandemic.

There has been a constant stream of comments from Windows users and the press wondering when Microsoft would do something about the problem that these threats represent to its OS. Unusually quiet about the topic for quite a while, Microsoft acquired antispyware/antispam vendor GIANT Company Software (http://www.giantcompany.com) last month, and less than 4 weeks after the acquisition, has released a new version of GIANT's antispyware tool as Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta 1).
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

AntiSpyware installation is simple, and the scanning functionality appears to be fairly fast. I didn't have a severely infected system to try it on, but the tool did find some sample spyware-infected files that I keep around for testing, correctly identified the spyware, and reported what I should do about it. The software also switched my homepage to MSN.com from the blank page it was set at, which is an annoyance common to spyware tools; they report a blank page as a hijack attempt, although the other spyware tools I use don't reset the page to something else. Fortunately, I was able to reconfigure the software, using the Advanced Tools settings, to tell it that about:blank was my preferred home page and to keep it set to that address.

The software also can install (at the users discretion) several real-time agents that monitor the status of system settings that spyware often uses. Broken down into the categories Internet, System, and Application, the 59 checkpoints that the agents monitor should be able to defeat most known spyware threats. I encountered the actions of these agents when I attempted to run a few scripts that I load at boot. The agent alerted me to the scripts attempting to execute and gave me the option to allow or prevent their execution. I told the program to allow the execution and to remember the setting, so after the first notification I no longer receive an alert when my system executes the startup scripts. By checking the Agent Events information, I can see which user allowed the scripts to execute, so if I was trying to determine spyware problems on a user's computer, I could check an audit log of actions that precipitated a possible infection.

Unlike many common spyware tools, the Microsoft tool does a good job of explaining what it can do, has done, or wants to do with spyware infections. The information is clearly presented, with useful levels of drilldown in many situations. Although this is the beta of the first Microsoft iteration of the software, it's obvious that the underlying technology that Microsoft purchased to build this product is a sound foundation to build on. AntiSpyware is worth checking out, even if you currently use another spyware solution; if you aren't using one, this is a good place to start.

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==== 3. News & Views ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Plots the Next Exchange Server Version
The next version of Microsoft Exchange Server, known internally as Exchange 12 (E12), will build on the many improvements Microsoft has made to Exchange Server 2003 since the company first released the product in late 2003. E12 will synchronize with a major update of Microsoft Office Outlook and Windows Mobile, both of which will be optimized for E12.
http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/articleid/45129/45129.html

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==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: "System Log Full" Errors
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

While I was talking to a local small-business owner, he mentioned he was waiting for his computer consultant to show up. Several of his users couldn't access their computers; they would get an error message that said the system log was full. The owner asked me whether I knew a workaround for this logon problem, and I told him that any administrative account could log on to the computer and fix the problem. His own account had administrative rights, so I explained how to fix the problem.
1. Go to Start, Administrative Tools, Event Viewer (or go to Start, Run, and enter eventvwr.msc).
2. Right-click the Security entry in the left pane and select Properties from the context menu.
3. In the Log size section, select either "Overwrite events as needed" or "Overwrite events older than N days."
4. Click OK.

The problem occurred because the consultant who did his computer support had switched the setting to "Do not overwrite events" so that he could diagnose an access control problem the company had been having. Unfortunately, he didn't switch the settings back to the default, and when the user logs filled up (about 10 months later) the systems would no longer let users without administrative privileges log on.

Featured Thread: New Year's Resolution: W2K3!
Visit Sean Deuby's blog and join the discussion about problems and experiences with migrating Active Directory (AD) to Windows Server 2003.
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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Barb Gibbens, [email protected]

Manage Your Backups
Genie-Soft has released Genie Backup Manager Home Edition, a backup and restore utility whose wizard interface lets you easily automate backups of files and folders, emails, settings, applications, and more. The product supports backups to a variety of storage media, including internal and external hard disks, memory sticks, and removable devices. A catalog helps you keep track of file versions and lets you run, view, and extract files directly from the backup set without having to use the restore wizard, and 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption protects your data. Genie Backup Manager supports Windows 98 and later and costs $50. For more information or to download a trial version of the software, go to the vendor's Web site.
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UltraBac Software announces UltraBac Disaster Recovery (UBDR) Gold, an image-based backup and disaster-recovery utility for Windows workstations and servers. Image-based recovery is significantly faster than traditional file-by-file recovery. UBDR Gold supports virtually every type of storage device and provides integrated FTP recovery, which lets you restore an image from a LAN, WAN, or the Internet. The ability to script restores means that UBDR Gold can set up the network, restore the image to a preselected partition, and automatically reboot the machine. For more information, contact the vendor by phone at 425-664-6000, by email at [email protected], or on the Web.
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