Archive for the ‘firewall’ Category

Is Windows Security Center real or rogue?

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

A reader writes:

What kind of warnings from Windows Security Center are real, and what should I do about them?

Windows Security Center is a feature that was introduced in Windows XP Service Pack 2 and was also included in Windows Vista. (Action Center replaced Windows Security Center in Windows 7.)

Security Center checks the security status on your computer, including:

  • Firewall settings

  • Windows automatic updating

  • Antivirus software settings

  • Internet security settings

  • User Account Control settings

If Security Center detects a security problem, it displays a notification and puts a Security Center icon  in the notification area. Click the notification or double-click the Security Center icon Security Center Icon to open Security Center and get information about how to fix the problem.

Is Windows Security Center a virus?

In the years since Security Center was introduced, cybercriminals have created several different kinds of malware that look like Security Center or have the same name. If you have this malware on your computer, it might lure you into a fraudulent transaction, steal your personal information, or slow down your computer. This kind of malware is called “rogue security software.” Learn how to spot and avoid these fake virus alerts.

How do I know if the warnings are real?

  1. If you think a warning looks suspicious, the first thing you can do is run antivirus software on your computer, which might let you know if you have a virus. Learn more about antivirus software for your operating system.
  2. To check your knowledge of real security warnings and fake security warnings, and to learn how to help protect your computer and personal information, take our quiz.

Guidance for Internet Explorer vulnerability

April 29th, 2014 No comments

On April 26, 2014, Microsoft notified customers of a vulnerability in Internet Explorer. To date, we are aware of limited, targeted attacks and are working on a fix.

UPDATE: Microsoft released a security update for this vulnerability on May 1. For more information, see Available now: Security update for Internet Explorer.

We encourage you to take steps that protect your PC such as enabling a firewall, applying all software updates, and installing antivirus and antispyware software.

In addition:

1. Exercise caution when visiting untrusted websites. Avoid clicking suspicious links or opening email messages from unfamiliar senders, which could send you to a malicious website that delivers malware to your computer.

2. Turn on “Enhanced Protected Mode” in Internet Explorer 10 and 11. Some versions of Internet Explorer have this setting on by default. To turn on Enhanced Protected Mode:

a. Click Tools in the Internet Explorer task bar and then Internet Options.

b. Click on the Advanced tab and then check the box next to Enhanced Protected Mode.

3. Download and install EMET 4.1, a Microsoft security tool, for an additional layer of protection.

As criminals become more sophisticated, it is important to keep current with software that has the latest security protections built in. Modern browsers and operating systems have greater security features than older operating systems.

Note: Microsoft no longer provides security updates for the Windows XP operating system and encourages upgrading to a modern operating system like Windows 8.

To learn more, visit How to boost your malware defense and protect your PC.

Help your mother be safer online

May 7th, 2013 No comments

A great Mother’s Day gift idea: help your mom guard against viruses, fraud, and identity theft. Unless she’s a super geek or an IT professional (or both), we know she’ll appreciate it.

Make sure that your mother:

  • Has antivirus software from a trusted source and knows how to keep it updated. (Microsoft Security Essentials can be downloaded at no charge.)
  • Understands automatic updating. Encourage her to regularly install updates for all her software and subscribe to automatic updates wherever possible.  
  • Uses strong passwords and keeps them secret.
  • Knows to always keep her firewall on. Turning off this protective barrier between her computer and the Internet for even a minute increases the risk that her PC will be infected with malware.
  • Is aware of tech support phone scams and knows not to provide any personal information to callers who claim to be from Microsoft and offer to fix her computer.
  • Knows how to lock her mobile phone with a unique four-digit PIN. For more tips, you both can take our Facebook poll about mobile manners and safety.

Get more tips on how to stay safer with security software and scans.