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Get a Live CD

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The attacks on Windows machines continue. Businesses are losing millions every day. Krebs on Security continues to both highlight these attacks and point to a simple solution.

Get a live CD.

There are live CDs available for Windows but the idea is otherwise to get a Linux live CD as there's less chance of that system being hacked in memory. From Wikipedia:

A live CD or live DVD (also called live disc) is a CD or DVD containing a bootable computer operating system. Live CDs are unique in that they have the ability to run a complete modern operating system on a computer lacking mutable secondary storage.

The term 'live CD' was coined because after typical PC RAM was large enough and 52x speed CD drives and CD burners were widespread among PC owners, it finally became convenient and practical to boot the kernel, run X11, a window manager and GUI applications directly from a CD without disturbing the OS on the hard disk.

The key words here are in the first paragraph: 'lacking mutable secondary storage'. The system boots from the CD/DVD; the disc is read-only; nothing gets written to the hard drive; and the native operating system (with its trojans worms viruses etc) cannot run. The LiveCD list site has an excellent survey of available live CDs. The most popular is Ubuntu. Ubuntu also ship your CD free to your door no matter where on the planet you are.

Why Use It

Windows systems can no longer protect themselves from attacks such as those generated with the help of the Zeus trojan. Antivirus suites are basically powerless to stop these attacks. Most Windows systems are severely infected without their users even being aware of it. Recent studies have shown that signature-based security solutions such as used by AV companies can't find even one quarter of the Zeus infections and similar results hold for other malware strains.

Both corporations and individuals risk being left in the lurch by their banking institutions in the event of a security breach. Criminal gangs are able to steal large sums of money before the banks react. The banks can't always recover the funds after the fact and the clients are not reimbursed.

Some banking clients claim their banks do not use proper security precautions to prevent these mishaps but this is not always the case. And banks that refuse to reimburse probably have access to far better legal resources than their clients.

There are measures nearly all banks can take to improve their security but the first instance of failed security is on the client computer. The current wave of banking attacks targets only Windows computers. The live CD is not vulnerable. Period.

A live CD doesn't imply any additional costs. Live CDs are free (and even shipping and handling is free in the case of Ubuntu). You simply insert the disk and reboot the computer from the disc instead of the hard drive.

How to Use It

Using a live CD is easy - just boot it. But getting used to it might take some time for a novice not familiar with the operating system. Things are very similar to Windows and you don't have to get too picky about interfaces and the like - all you have to do is boot the native web browser and surf to your bank's website. The rest, as they say, takes care of itself.

The web browser is basically the only program on the live CD you have to learn to use. You type in the URL of your bank and you're there.

Get One Today

Everyone can benefit from a live CD - even Mac users and hard core Linux or BSD users. Unix systems are infinitely more secure than Windows but even these systems can in theory be hacked. A write-protected CD can't be hacked.

Get the physical medium if you can - just to be extra safe. Take the time and arrange for yours today.

See Also
The LiveCD List
Request an Ubuntu CD

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