Monday, September 24, 2007

Keyloggers and Viri and Rootkits, Oh My!

In the last post, I ranted about rootkits being planted in consumers’ computers without their knowledge by unscrupulous corporations or by hackers with even less honorable motives. I vented my displeasure with a corporation but did not give any information about what one can do about a rootkit. To remedy that oversight I embarked on a quest for some free software that will detect their presence. I shall try to rectify the omission in this episode.

It has been written that rootkits and keyloggers hide quite well in the deep recesses of your computer’s innards, often to the degree that excellent commercial software cannot find them. I found two anti-rootkit applications and one keylogger sniffer.

AVG, an excellent commercial security software company, offers three security software applications that are free for the downloading. The best known is their free anti-virus program, but they also offer an anti-spyware application and a rootkit detector. All three are available
here.

Sophos Software also offers free
anti-rootkit software, a threat detection test, and an application discovery tool in addition to their commercial line of security software.

One of the stranger freeware security tools I found, the
SnoopFree Privacy Shield, is a paranoid and compulsive little program that detects any application that could be a keylogger or take over your browser, displays what it is, what it is doing, and asks if you wish to allow it. I found it to be something of a revelation that it classified Google Desktop as a serious threat and desperately tried to convince me not to allow it to function. This program for Win XP is worth installing, if only to see which applications are paying attention to what is being typed on your keyboard.

An updated version of Check Point’s free
ZoneAlarm Security Firewall has just been released and is certainly worth using.

Belarc freely gives its
Advisor application that lists all the software installed on your computer, for non-commercial purposes only. This app lists every piece of software installed on your computer, along with patches, identification numbers, version numbers, and much other valuable information. This program has been installed on every computer I have owned since 1995.

Finally, EmiSoft’s
a-squared free anti malware program (Anti-Trojan, Anti-Worm, and Anti-Spyware) is available, as is an Anti-Dialer program.

When you try these programs, as I have, please give consideration to purchasing the full featured versions or making a donation to the software’s author if you like them.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2007, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

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