In today's Spyware Weekly Newsletter Mike Healan, long time spyware/anti-spyware guru, says:
It is now my official position that using the (VMware) Browser Appliance is the best and only way for Windows users to remain completely safe on the internet. I will no longer explain how to alter security settings, block massive lists of nasty web sites or how to install a half dozen different programs, all protecting different parts of the system.
Mike goes on to say:
You can lock your machine down with firewalls, script blockers, antispyware programs, antivirus programs, enormous web site block lists, block all ActiveX and then live in fear of the next 0-day exploit. Or you can install the Browser Appliance and be immune to all web-based malware installers. The choice is your's to make.
I previously blogged about the top 10 ways to stay free of spyware. It seems I left out two important tips, one being to use the VMware Player and Browser Appliance, and the other being to run Windows in a limited user account instead of as an administrator. I got a few emails about the limited user account. The point is well taken, but I don't follow that practice myself and therefore didn't think about it. And since I have VMware, I haven't used the player and Browser Appliance. I'll be downloading it for my other machines.
Mike has written a four part article on how to use the VMware Player and Browser Appliance, including how to share files between the virtual computer and the host machine, some recommended tweaks and how to install some additional software. I urge Windows users to read Mike's article because I think he's on to something about this being the best way for Windows users to be safe on the net. Note that the Browser Appliance is a stripped down virtual machine running the Ubuntu Linux operating system with only a few programs installed. Firefox is the pre-installed web browser.
That being said, however, all Windows users should still follow most of the steps in my top 10 tips, especially keeping Windows updated, locking down Internet Explorer and using an alternative browser. Why? Your wife, husband, teenager, in-laws, friends come over, use your computer, haven't a clue about VMware Player and Browser Appliance and open Internet Explorer. If you haven't secured Windows, boom! You're hit with spyware.
I'll make the obvious statement here (so the Linux folks won't feel obligated to <grin>) and say if you run Linux or a Mac, you are, according to them, completely safe from spyware and malware. But since most of the world uses Windows...
Note to Linux folks: In the talkbacks on this post I had a conversation with some of you about Knoppix and which Linux distro to install on a machine instead of running Knoppix from a live CD. I took the test to see which distro would be best for me and came up with SuSE, Mandriva and Linspire. I see that Fry's has SuSE on discount and I'm going to pick it up this weekend. I don't think this blog will change to Suzi on SuSE, as someone mentioned, but I might blog about it or have some questions of you smart Linux folks, especially since I don't know anyone personally that uses Linux.