I can’t really blame those who are paranoid about what goes on in their computers. They have a good reason to be, as today’s hazards are endless. Applications installing silently, application and OS exploits, trojans and viruses, all combined with user ignorance brings about a suffering machine hosting various malware, sending out your vital information to whoever it is that’s out there. You need to make sure you know exactly what goes on in your machine, and there are a few simple tools that will allow you to do just that. Sysinternals is one of my all times favorite geeky site, that shows alot about the Windows internals. Mark has been doing great small (sometimes opensource) software for years now and I use his software (and code) quite often. The reason I’m mentioning Sysinternals here is that they have a few small applications that will help you monitor what goes on in your system (full security related small apps are listed here):

  • Process Explorer is a Task Manager replacement that will show you what’s running in your system with a small description and dependencies display of each process and the ability to play around with it or further Google it.
  • Autoruns will let you gain control of everything that loads up and is running on your system. You do need to know what you’re doing, but it’s pretty straightforward, as it lists everything split in categories with quite the same features as Process Explorer.
  • Although an average home-user would rather use the regular anti spyware software that’s out there, I should note – while I’m at it – that Sysinternals also has RootKitRevealer which scans for suspicious malware behavior in your system.

Most important thing to control your ingoing and outgoing Internet connection is, ofcourse, to install a personal firewall. There are plenty of good personal firewalls out there, some geekier than others, but most home users I’ve met seem to get along fine with the good ‘ld ZoneAlarm (which is now also part of the CheckPoint Israeli pride). Nowadays, Zonealarm will also monitor system behavior and ask you to confirm certain actions. It’s sometimes a bit of an overkill, especially for the hardworking lame users but that way you know and decide EXACTLY what goes on and how. (All applications mentioned are free for download and personal use)

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