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Sunday, October 12, 2008



If you are running Windows XP, you should install the free
DropMyRights program. Hopefully this posting will convince you of this.
DropMyRights is a free program that greatly increases the security of Windows XP and has not gotten the attention that I think it deserves. Everyone running Windows XP should use it. Yes, everyone.
Windows, Macs and Linux all support the concept of restricted and unrestricted users. Restricted users are limited in the changes they can make to the system, perhaps the biggest restriction being on installing software. Windows unrestricted users are called Administrators, with Macs and Linux the sole unrestricted user is called root.
A big reason that Macs and Linux are safer than Windows is that running as a restricted user is the norm. Trying to run Windows while logged on as a restricted user comes with a host of problems, so the reality is that almost everyone runs their Windows XP computer as an unrestricted (Administrator) user. This is a shame, because it meansthat malicious software can be surreptitiously installed and once running, it can modify or delete critical Windows system files.
The way DropMyRights makes Windows more secure is by running selected programs in a restricted environment (i.e. with lower rights) even when logged on to Windows XP as an Administrator.
Think you don't need it? I'm being alarmist? You're protected by antivirus software, so why bother?
A Windows XP computer can be surprisingly vulnerable to malicious software, especially if you are not up to date on installing bug fixes/patches to both Windows and all your applications. (Soon I plan a posting about the Secunia Software Inspector that makes it easier to keep up to date on bug fixes for many popular applications.)

  • Did you know that Windows can get infected just by viewing a Web page? It can.
  • The old rule about not opening e-mail attachments is not sufficient
    anymore. Simply reading an e-mail message can infect Windows.
  • There have been instances where simply viewing a picture could have installed malicious software.

And, you're not safe if all you do is visit "good" Web sites.
Reputable sites get compromised by the bad guys in an attempt to install malicious software on your computer. The Web site owner might not realize this has happened for quite a while, if ever. There is no longer a good neighborhood on the Web that you can safely browse around in.
While you're safer with antivirus and antispyware programs installed, no one application catches everything (no two applications either). Got a firewall? Great, but the problems discussed here are not ones that a firewall can protect you from.
At the risk of repeating myself, everyone running Windows XP should use DropMyRights.
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