Friday, June 08, 2012

More converts to Linux - Part 2

My sister-in-law dropped off her daughter's tower machine for a rebuild.  The first thing they asked for is for me to wipe the drive and to install Linux on the machine.  They don't even want a dual-boot machine, but, pure Linux!  It seems that they are tired of the viruses/trojans on windows and the A/V software is really slowing down their machine.  I know Linux isn't perfect, but, is a lot more secure by default and I will be turning on all of the various options to harden the machine as much as possible.  I also will build normal user accounts that cannot add/change/delete programs from the system and then show them how to use the special account with root priviliges for when they have to update the system.

I will be re-imaging the machine to PCLINUX and installing Libre Office, Games and educational packages for her as they wanted a fully loaded machine to do office work, games and allow the kids to 'play' with some of the free educational packages that comes with the distro.

Cutting Cable and going web for TV

We have cut our cable TV as the prices our cable provider charges keep going up and the quality of what is available in my not-so-humble opinion is going down.  Our cable provider told us they are moving a number of channels to digital and if we want to get them we must rent a digital converter.  The problem is that most of the shows are repeats and in a 30 minute show there is about 10+ minutes of commercials.

I am now in the process of building and testing a Linux box that will replace what cable TV offered us.  I am finding a number of sites that offer streaming movies for free and they are legal!  When I was searching for sites I found a lot of them offering movies, but, seeing the titles I know that they were pirated and I will not support those sites.  I want to find sites that offer legit movies for preferably free (or if they are in Canada a minimal charge).  The sites I did find even offer children show shows so our grandkids will have educational shows when they visit us.

The money I am saving will be used to buy DVDs to build up our movie library.  The bonus is that we pick the day and time of movies and can pause them if we need to restock on munchies or take a break.

The only thing I have had to buy is a wireless network card ( a DLINK USB card).  On my first test using PCLINUX it detected the card, found our network and prompted me to enter our key in to allow access to the network. 

The next test is to move the machine down into the living room, hook it up and run the machine.  I haven't decided if we will be using Firefox or Chrome for the browser stuff, but, I am not picky there as they both worked well in the test.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It does not matter what O/S you use when it comes to malware

Now that the Apple people got a reality check on how secure their O/S really was when they got hit with flashback.  We all may want to think about securing our machines.  It does not matter what O/S you run, we call can have our machine taken over by malware.  A few things that we all should be doing to at least slow down and make the lives of malware authors a bit harder:

  • Keep your machines up-to-date by applying patches when they are available.
  • Never open attachments from people you don't know and be skeptical about attachments when you get one from someone you know and you didn't ask for that file.  
    • Assume that senders are not as vigilant and check with them before opening.
    • Assume that the from account name was forged.
  • Never believe a popup window in your browser stating your software is out-of-date and install the update via that convenient link.
  • Never believe those popups or messages while browsing that they scanned your system and you are (or could be) infected.  
  • Never run an account with admin priviliges.  Create a simple user account that cannot add, change or delete programs.
  • Do regular backups of your files.  External USB hard drives are inexpensive.  When you are done remove the backup and do not leave it connected all of the time to your machines.  If you do get malware at least you have a chance that the backup is still clean.
  • Use a simple firewall on your computer at a minimum.  
  • If your router has the option to enable a firewall then use that firewall too.
  • Assume that your machine will get taken over and make plans on how you will rebuild your system and recover your documents.
  • Install, use and keep up-to-date an anti-virus package and scan on a regular basis.  It really does not matter now what O/S you use, assume malware writers can take over your machine.
  • If someone hands you a CD, DVD, USB Memory stick or USB drive scan it before doing anything else.  Never assume that the media is clean.
At home every machine is running A-V software (for windows I like AVG as it gives good protect, fast running and not a resource hog).

I assume that sooner or later one or more of my computers at home will get infected and I will have to wipe and rebuild the system(s).  I do run backups on all of the machines so while I may lose some recent documents or email it won't be a total loss.