Nowadays most bad stuff lands on our computer when we’re browsing. Here’s how to stop it.
By Jeremy Wagstaff
Visit a dodgy website using Microsoft Windows XP or earlier and what’s called malware—a catchall term that ranges from code that pops up annoying ads at you to really bad stuff that turn your computer into a zombie– will try to parachute into your computer. Because most of us using Windows XP do so under what’s called administrator rights—so we can install programs etc—this can be done without much difficulty because with administrator rights we’re like a careless janitor, wandering around the building leaving all the doors open because it’s easier. (Vista does things differently, so you probably won’t have to worry about this.)
Now the obvious thing to do would be to turn off administrator rights unless we actually need them to install a program, say—a bit like giving the janitor the key to each door only when he needs them. But that’s tiresome—too much switching around between accounts. Nobody I know puts up with it. So here’s a simpler way of doing it which should keep you safe, by ensuring that when you use your browser you do so without doing so as an administrator.
- First you need to download a piece of software called RemoveAdmin from Download.com (http://is.gd/1TfX).
- Launch the installer.
- Once it’s installed you’ll find a shortcut on your desktop called SecureIE.
If you’re using Internet Explorer double click that shortcut every time you launch the browser.
- To test you’re browsing securely, visit any website, right click and select View page source:
From the resulting window, try saving to your Windows directory (File/Save as and then navigate to C:Windows.)
If you’re browsing securely you should see this message:
(If you’re using the Firefox browser, for some reason the installer won’t prepare a shortcut for you so you’ll have to do it manually. Find your Firefox browser shortcut and right click, selecting Properties.
Click the mouse in the Target field and go to the beginning of the line (hitting Home should do it).
Type the text "C:Program FilesRemoveAdminremoveAdmin.exe" (including the quotes). The full line should read something like this:
"C:Program FilesRemoveAdminremoveAdmin.exe" "C:Program FilesMozilla Firefoxfirefox.exe"
One more step: You need to change the startup directory. Type the text below to the Start in: box below the Target: box: "C:Program FilesRemoveAdmin".
Now check you’re safe by doing step 4.
©Loose Wire Pte Ltd. Jeremy Wagstaff is a Singapore-based commentator on technology. His guide to using computers, “Loose Wire”, is available in bookshops or on Amazon. He can be found online at jeremywagstaff.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.