By John Gable, Director of Consumer Product Management
Welcome Windows 7. We have been waiting and it is finally here!
From a security perspective, Windows 7 is very similar to
* Windows 7 is an operating system, not a security product.
Even Microsoft suggests you get additional security so don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are protected if you get the new operating system.
* Windows 7 does not provide full firewall protection.
It does include an inbound firewall, but that is all you get by default. It also has an outbound firewall, which you can turn on. However, both lack some protections that all strong firewalls include. The Windows 7 firewall does not pass a long list of leak tests (tests designed to mimic actual firewall attacks and therefore leaves you vulnerable).
* Windows 7 does not include antivirus, and even if you add Microsoft’s free antivirus, you only have partial protection.
Separately, Microsoft offers “Security Essentials”. This, like other standalone antivirus products, free or otherwise, detects and removes known viruses. That is good and an essential part of security that everyone should have. However, even the very best antivirus products are less than 70% effective against brand new viruses. That means that you need additional layers of security if you want to be virus-free.
* Windows 7 leaves holes in your browser.
The web browser in Windows 7, Internet Explorer, only blocks known dangerous web sites. That is also true with other browsers like Firefox. They do not block new dangerous web sites that have not yet been identified as dangerous, leaving you vulnerable to new phishing scams that trick you into revealing confidential and financial data.
Windows 7 also does not block downloading files that you think are safe but are in fact dangerous. Nor does it block invisible “drive-by” downloads that happen automatically in the background by taking advantage of known exploits in your browser and plug-ins.
* Windows 7 does not offer identity or data protection.
With almost 10 million identity theft victims last year, identity theft may be the fastest growing crime in the world. Don’t worry, there are many things you can do to protect your identity and your data. For example: antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-phishing solutions offer some protection against this. Furthermore, hard drive encryption (Windows 7 Ultimate includes this for enterprises but does not have a consumer version) is particularly valuable to “mobile” laptop users who take their laptop with them everywhere they go.
Everyone, whether using a laptop, PC, or no computer at all, is vulnerable to offline identity attacks. You should also consider some offline protection like Credit Bureau Monitoring included for no extra charge in many ZoneAlarm products.
Welcome Windows 7. Be sure to enjoy it – just don’t spoil it by not getting the security you need.