You CAN NOT Use Windows XP Safely on the Internet!

Here is some more info on why Windows XP is NOT SAFE to be
using it on the Internet.
I know some people may disagree. I am talking about the
average person not the people who are Computer Savvy.
This article gives so much good information. If you
do everything they say your PC is still NOT SAFE!

Microsoft discontinued support for its Windows XP operating
system this week, which means users need to beef up their
security practices to cope

My bet is that the vast majority of the Windows XP users reading
this did not update their computers/operating systems by 8 April.
What actions should they take to minimise their exposure to
attack, while they consider their options/save up? Whitesocks

Microsoft has shipped its final update for Windows XP, which
means all the new security holes will not be patched. Nobody
knows what will happen next, but malware writers are expected to
target the remaining machines. If you are still running Windows
XP, it would be a good idea to make it as secure as possible.
Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet”. The things
you can do to protect XP apply to all versions of Windows.
However, because XP will now get more insecure every month, you
need to take protection much more seriously.

It’s a huge problem. There are roughly 1.5 billion PCs in
the world, and NetMarketShare reckons that 27.7% are still
running XP. That’s more than 400 million machines. Since XP
is fundamentally much less secure than Windows 7 (48.8%), Windows
8 (11.3%) or even Vista (3.0%), it’s a very attractive
target for malware writers. (For comparison, all versions of Mac
OS X add up to 7.6%, with Linux at 1.5%.)

The quickest way to make a Windows XP machine almost completely
secure is to prevent it from accessing the internet. This works
for some business PCs that are used for specific purposes, such
as controlling machine tools, but isn’t practical for most
users. However, an alternative is to install a copy of Linux on
the same PC, or boot Linux from a Live CD, and use that for
browsing and email. Dual-booting two operating systems is tedious
and time consuming, but at least you can get online while
continuing to use the XP software that has presumablyprevented
you from upgrading to a more recent version of Windows.

Microsoft’s solution was to provide an XP Mode in Windows 7
Pro. This let you run Windows 7 as your main operating system,
while simultaneously running a free “virtual” copy of
Windows XP. The price of Windows 7 Pro means this isn’t a
solution for most home users: you’d be better off putting
the money towards a newer– perhaps secondhand–
PC.

So, let’s look at what you can do to run an XP machine
normally, but more safely.

Protecting XP on the net

The quickest and simplest way to make XP more secure on the
internet is to use it from a limited account. Most people use
“administrator” accounts, because these let you do
whatever you like. The problem is that any malware that gets
control of your admin account can also do whatever it likes. The
solution is to use a “limited” account, which also
limits what most malware programs can do.

Of course, if you need to install some software or make system
changes, you will have to switch to an admin account. To make
this a little more palatable, tick the box that says “Use
Fast User Switching” when you set up the limited account. If
children or accident-prone adults share the same PC, they should
definitely be given their own limited accounts.

All XP accounts should be protected by passwords, though many
people don’t do this.

You should also download and use a more secure browser than
Internet Explorer 6, 7, or 8. Microsoft has chosen not to provide
its own more secure browsers, IE10 and IE11, to XP users, at some
sacrifice in market share. However, there are several
alternatives including Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
Generally, I prefer Firefox, as it consumes far fewer tabs, and
doesn’t crash as often. Against that, Chrome is probably
more secure because its “sandbox” means malware writers
need two exploits to penetrate it: one for Chrome and another to
get out of the sandbox.

When you have installed Firefox, Chrome or Opera, add a browser
extension called HTTPS Everywhere. The “S” indicates
that it uses encrypted communications to talk to websites,
whenever possible. Its main purpose it to improve privacy, but it
also makes browsing more secure.

Finally, for this section, be careful where you go. Most
commercial sites tend to be safe, but sites that offer free stuff
— pirated music, movies and software, wallpapers etc
— either may not be professionally run or may be making
their money by other means. Websites can make a lot of money from
“drive by” installations of advertising programs and
other unwanted software.

Keeping software up to date

You will no longer be able to update Windows XP, but that makes
it even more important to keep all your other programs up to
date. In my experience, the simplest way to do this is to run
Secunia’s free Personal Software Inspector (PSI) to check
for and install updates. In particular, make sure you keep Adobe
Flash, Adobe Acrobat and Oracle’s Java up to date, as these
have poor security records. Best of all, uninstall all versions
of Java completely, and see if you can manage without it. If not,
you can always install the latest version when you need it. (Java
has nothing to do with the browser scripting language,
JavaScript.)

Indeed, it’s a good idea to run the Add/Remove Programs
utility and a utility such as SlimCleaner to see if you can
remove any other software you don’t need. The fewer programs
you have, the fewer things there are to attack.

Many people update their browsers and desktop software, but
completely forget about updating their browser plug-ins. This is
dangerous because Flash, Java and similar plugins are in the
front line. You should therefore visit Mozilla’s Check Your
Plugins page. This also provides trusted links to the newer
versions that need to be installed. Qualys also offers a
browser-checking site. The option to “Scan without
installing plugin” is quick but not as thorough as the
plugin version.

Again, uninstall any plugins you don’t need. This will make
your browser slightly more secure, and it will probably run
faster.

Note that Microsoft has also stopped supporting Office 2003, and
this is now vulnerable software. If possible, upgrade to a more
recent version. If you aren’t willing to pay the (very
reasonable) price, you can use the free but less powerful online
Office web apps that are part of Microsoft’s free OneDrive
cloud storage. If you only need to read or create relatively
simple documents, the free and open source LibreOffice may be a
viable alternative.

If there’s a program you can’t either update or
replace, you can run it in a protected sandbox by using another
free program called Sandboxie. You could also use it to protect
your browser or social networking programs. However, only the Pro
version ($15 per year) lets you run multiple
sandboxes at the same time.

Security software

If you are still going to use Windows XP, you should also beef up
your anti-malware software. While Microsoft will keep updating
Microsoft Security Essentials, you should either replace that
with something stronger or add extra protection by using
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. There are plenty of free replacements:
see the Best Free Antivirus Software section at Tech Support
Alert (aka Gizmo’s). If you are willing to pay for an
anti-virus suite, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 and
Bitdefender Total Security 2014 are worth a look.

If you’re not buying a suite, it’s also worth replacing
Windows XP’s firewall. Again, Tech Support Alert has a
useful guide to the main options. For XP, I’d suggest the
Comodo Firewall with the Maximum Proactive Defense feature
installed. It uses a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) that
tries to stop malware from working by monitoring its behaviour.
There will be an annoying period where you have to tell it which
things are safe, but extreme suspicion is justified in an
unsupported operating system.

Finally, for this section, there are now programs that monitor
and/or analyse websites and block ones that might be malicious.
They also help to protect you from phishing attacks and
clickjacking. You can’t use Microsoft’s SmartScreen
filter, which is included with IE10 and IE11 and built into
Windows 8. However, Web of Trust is a community-based substitute.
The new Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium ($24.95 per year for
three PCs) also does some ferocious site blocking.

It remains to be seen whether all of this will be enough to
protect Windows XP in the long term. It will certainly make your
online experience more annoying. That’s part of the price of
using unsupported software in a world where most of us do online
shopping and banking, where malware can encrypt your hard drive
and hold your PC to ransom, and where identity theft can have
devastating consequences.

Frankly, it would be better to buy an upgrade to Windows 7 or
Windows 8 — now that 8.1 Update 1 deals with the vast
majority of complaints about the original version — or
install a version of Linux. Update 1, released on 8 April, also
runs in less memory (it can run on tablets with only 1GB) so it
should also work better even on older PCs.

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