| ||August 19, 2003 |
| ||It's virus week here at CNET, as you readers look for ways to fight the pesky MSBlast worm. We have all the patches and tools you're looking for to win the battle. Plus, we brace ourselves for the clash of the top finance software packages. Which will win: Quicken or Money? |
| || || || || ||MSBlast |
The MSBlast worm had your complete attention this week, and who can blame you? By the end of last week, when the worm's spread was finally tapering off, it had spread to anywhere from 330,000 to nearly 1 million computers, depending on whose figures you read. And while experts were not so impressed with the programming prowess of its creators, they were certainly wowed by its effectiveness in spreading so far and so quickly. Much of the virus's potency came simply from how it spread. Instead of using e-mail, it scanned the Internet on port 135 looking for vulnerable computers not yet patched with the latest Windows update. When it found one, it attempted to exploit the flaw to download a file called msblast.exe to the infected computer. Tainted PCs became weapons that were intended to ultimately "blast" Microsoft with a denial-of-service attack over the weekend--thus the name--plus, the infected PCs would shut down or malfunction because of the worm's interference. Now, another worm is spreading that's intended to patch that Windows flaw, but that virus also crashes unprotected machines that aren't infected with MSBlast. To keep yourself safe from both, you must patch your Windows system yourself. And to clean up an infected system, read our step-by-step guide.
| || || || || ||Free antivirus and free firewalls |
Now that we've discussed what will happen without protection for your PC, let's go over what else you were searching frantically for this week: software that protects your PC. Not every virus is like MSBlast, which just scanned the Net for machines that weren't patched against a specific flaw. Some still come the old-fashioned way, through e-mail. Regardless of how they want in, good antivirus and firewall defenses will keep them out. Most readers were definitely going for the cheapest alternatives, mainly free software. Unfortunately, our editors have found that most free security software, apart from the free version of ZoneAlarm, isn't effective against the changing landscape of computer threats. Instead, we recommend that if you're really serious about protecting your machine and your data, invest a few bucks in a top-rated antivirus app or personal firewall. You don't want an untested product to fail you when the next variant of Sobig hits the Net.
| || || || || ||Quicken |
Coming up late this week, the personal-finance software battle hits the streets as both Intuit and Microsoft introduce the 2004 versions of their popular Quicken and Money packages. Last year, Microsoft Money 2003 narrowly edged out Quicken for our Editors' Choice, mainly because of its superior customer support. But this is a new year, and the packages are bound to include a whole new round of updates and drastic changes. What's the advance word? So far, it looks as if Quicken is set for a comeback. Microsoft has thrown in a lot of fancy extras that temporarily mask the fact that Quicken is a better core program. And we're still bothered by Microsoft's insistence on making you use Passport. But the full reviews are coming in a matter of days, so keep your eyes on CNET.com for the final word.
| || || || || ||Toshiba e355 |
Are you as eager as we are to check out more Pocket PC 2003 handhelds other than HP's first batch? Judging from how much we loved most of Toshiba's other lovely PDAs, you might guess that we were pleased as punch to get our hands on the Toshiba Pocket PC e355. The good news is that it has a brighter, better transflective screen; a snazzy new OS; and a sweet little price tag that's less than $300. Unfortunately, nothing else about the e355 is that special. Toshiba has built in only 16MB of ROM, compared with the e330's 32MB, and the Pictures application, which ships with other Windows Mobile devices, has been left off. Unlike the e355, the e350 doesn't have PhotoBase to make up for the missing program, so the step-up model is a better deal. Overall, we think this handheld's price makes it a pretty good value, but in the end, it has a lot of competition. If you're not sold, check out our editors' top-rated Pocket PCs for more ideas.
| || || || || ||Samsung i500 |
One of the biggest drawbacks of most PDA/phone combos--also known as smart phones--is their big, bulky size. Who wants to hold something that's the size of a standard handheld up to your ear and talk? That's why readers are excited about the Samsung SPH-i500, a 5.1-ounce, fully functional Palm OS PDA/phone that's not much bigger than a standard flip mobile. It has a bright color display that makes Web surfing and e-mail easier on the eyes. But to get the convenient size, you give up a built-in keyboard and a memory-expansion slot. Plus, it's missing a stereo headphone jack for listening to music, and it doesn't include a speakerphone. Those are a lot of drawbacks for a steep $500 price. But those are just our early impressions. We'll be publishing a full review by the end of this week, so check back later for a more thorough look at what's worth loving and leaving about this sleek mobile.