Increase Your Windows XP Security
By Don Trauger – Kennett
Microsoft ended security updates for Windows XP in April of this year (2014). Almost every computer guru thought the malware hackers would take advantage of this unfortunate situation to gain control of XP computers. Fortunately this has not happened. The idea behind this was that they would reverse engineer current Microsoft updates for Windows 7 & 8 to see if they could be applied to XP. No one really knows why that has not happened but that doesn’t mean you can let down your guard.
Here are some items to keep in mind if you are still using XP.
1. Don’t Use Internet Explorer. It’s not being updated any longer and it’s also 3 versions behind Internet Explorer 11 which is currently used in Windows 8.1. Instead of IE, use a browser such as Google Chrome (preferred) or Mozilla Firefox that still receives security patches. Download Chrome here: https://www.google.com/intl/en_us/chrome/browser/
Download Firefox here: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
2. If you must use IE you can mitigate the risks by uninstalling Java and Adobe Flash. Go to the Control Panel, click Add/Remove Programs and uninstall those 2 programs. Adobe Reader, which opens PDF files, should be updated to the latest version. If you don’t use it, uninstall it. However, if you need Adobe Reader you can get the latest version at http://get.adobe.com/reader/
3. Increase Data Execution Prevention Protection. Go to the Control Panel, double click the System icon, click the Advanced tab, click the Settings button under Performance. Next, click the Data Execution Prevention tab and choose “Turn on DEP for all programs and Services except those I select”. Should a program not open or run correctly you can click the Add button to make it exempt from DEP. Browse to the Program Files folder then to the program folder containing the program you want to make exempt. Click Open and you are done.
4. Make sure you have an up to date and currently active anti-virus program installed and running. My current choice is the free Bitdefender. It can be downloaded from http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/free.html. After installation make sure you create an account to continue to receive the free updates beyond the 30 day trial period. In addition, download the free Malwarebytes from https://www.malwarebytes.org/mwb-download/
Malwarebytes does a very good job in detecting and removing annoying pop-up ads along with other unwanted programs (PUPS).
By following these tips you can upgrade XP’s security to keep it going for a while longer. When it comes time to move to a new computer, Windows 8.1 is a fine choice. Don’t let anyone mislead you about all the “problems” Windows 8 has. This current version is stable with very fast boot times and can easily be set up to boot to the familiar Desktop screen.
Learn more about computers by attending our monthly PC Club meetings held on the second Tuesday at 7PM upstairs in the Community Center.