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MCTS Exam Cram: Configuring Windows Firewall and Windows Defender

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This chapter focuses on sharing files so users can access files from a Windows 7 computer over the network safely and securely.
This chapter is from the book

In today's world, there is often a need for users to share data with other users. This chapter focuses on sharing files so those users can access files from a Windows 7 computer over the network and how to control such access so that it remains secure.

Spyware and Windows Defender

  • Configure Windows Firewall

Spyware is a common threat to computers that can cause problems similar to a virus. Spyware (including adware) programs are malware that can be installed on computers, and they collect little bits of information at a time about a user without his or her knowledge. Some machines are infected with spyware when the spyware is bundled with other software, often without the user's knowledge. Sometimes spyware software might be added and the only notification the user gets is specified in the fine print of an End User License Agreement (EULA), which is usually a long document written with lots of legal jargon and is not read by most users. Spyware can also be picked up by simply visiting various websites because it is often hidden as ActiveX controls.

After it's installed, the spyware can monitor user activity on the Internet and transmit information such as email addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers without the user's knowledge. This information can be used for advertising or marketing purposes, to give the information to other parties, or to use the information for illegal purposes. Spyware can do the following:

  • Generate annoying pop-ups
  • Monitor keystrokes
  • Scan files on the hard drive
  • Snoop other applications such as chat programs or word processors
  • Install other spyware programs
  • Read cookies
  • Change the default home page on a web browser to other links or default pages
  • Open your computer to be accessed by others

Spyware can also use network bandwidth and computer memory and can lead to system crashes or general system instability.

To reduce your chances of being affected by spyware, you should

  • Use a good antivirus package such as Norton AntiVirus, McAfee ViruScan, or Microsoft Security Essentials.
  • Use spyware detection and removal programs such as Windows Defender if the detection/removal capabilities are not included in the antivirus software.
  • Be sure that your machine has all security patches and fixes loaded.
  • Install software only from sources and websites you trust.
  • Be careful what software you install on your system. Be sure to read the EULA for any piece of shareware or file sharing package you plan on installing.
  • Keep your web browser security settings at medium or higher.
  • Install or enable a personal firewall such as Windows Firewall that is included with Windows 7.
  • Use pop-up blockers.

Windows Defender, included with Windows 7, helps users detect and remove known spyware and other potential unwanted software. Windows Defender protects your computer with automated and real-time scanning and software removal.

Because spyware and other potentially unwanted software can try to install itself on your computer any time you connect to the Internet or when you install programs, it is recommended that you have Windows Defender running whenever you are using your computer.

Windows Defender offers three ways to help keep spyware and other potentially unwanted software from infecting your computer:

  • Real-time protection: When it runs in the background, Windows Defender alerts you when spyware or potentially unwanted software attempts to install itself or to run on your computer. It also alerts you when programs attempt to change important Windows settings.
  • Scanning options: You can use Windows Defender to actively scan your disks for spyware and other potentially unwanted software that might be installed on your computer and to automatically remove any malicious software that is detected during a scan as demonstrated in Figure 7.1. You can set up Windows Defender to scan automatically according to a schedule, or you can run it manually.
    Figure 7.1

    Figure 7.1 Windows Defender.

  • SpyNet community: The online Microsoft SpyNet community helps you see how other people respond to software that has not yet been classified for risks.

You can also use Windows Defender to constantly monitor your system, which offers your system real-time protection. The real-time protection uses nine security agents to monitor the critical areas of your computer that spyware might attack. When an agent detects potential spyware activity, it stops the activity and raises an alert. The agents include

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer Configuration: Monitors browser security settings.
  • Internet Explorer Downloads: Monitors applications that work with Internet Explorer, such as ActiveX controls and software installation applications.
  • Internet Explorer Add-ons (Browser Helper Objects): Monitors applications that automatically run when you start Internet Explorer.
  • Auto Start: Monitors the list of applications that starts when Windows starts.
  • System Configuration: Monitors security-related settings in Windows.
  • Services and Drivers: Monitors services and drivers as they interact with Windows and applications.
  • Windows Add-ons: Monitors software utilities that integrate with Windows.
  • Application Execution: Monitors applications when they start and throughout their execution.
  • Application Registration (API Hooks): Monitors files and tools in the operating system where applications can insert themselves to run.

Windows Defender includes automatic scanning options to provide regular spyware scanning in addition to on-demand scanning options. The scan options include

  • Quick Scan: A quick scan checks areas on a hard disk that spyware is most likely to infect.
  • Full Scan: A full scan checks all critical areas, including all files, the registry, and all currently running applications.
  • Custom Scan: A custom scan enables users to scan specific drives and folders.

When you perform a scan, you can configure what Windows Defender does when it identifies unwanted software, as shown in Figure 7.2. The actions include

  • Recommended action based on definition: Windows Defender performs an action based on what is in the definition.
  • Quarantine: Windows Defender places identified unwanted software in a quarantine or isolated holding folder. You can check the item before removing it from the system.
  • Remove: Windows Defender removes the item from the system.
  • Allow: Windows Defender does not take any action.
Figure 7.2

Figure 7.2 Configuring Windows Defender options.

To prevent Windows Defender from automatically taking the recommended action, such as quarantining or removing software detected during a scan, you need to clear Apply recommended actions located at the bottom of the Options screen. As a result, Windows defender recommends an action to take for detected malicious software.

Similar to antivirus software, Windows Defender uses a definition database that lists and details and characteristics of known spyware. Also similar to antivirus software, the definition database becomes out of date as new spyware is introduced. Therefore, you must update the database regularly for it to be effective.

To turn Windows Defender on or off, do the following:

  1. Open Windows Defender, open a search box and type in Windows Defender, and press Enter.
  2. Click Tools and then click Options.
  3. Under Administrator options, select or clear the Use this program checkbox and then click Save. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To turn Windows Defender real-time protection on or off, follow these steps:

  1. Open Windows Defender.
  2. Click Tools and then click Options.
  3. Under Real-time protection options, as shown in Figure 7.3, select the Use real-time protection (recommended) checkbox.
    Figure 7.3

    Figure 7.3 Configuring Windows Defender real-time protection.

  4. Select the options you want. To help protect your privacy and your computer, you should select all real-time protection options.
  5. Under Choose if Windows Defender should notify you about, select the options you want and then click Save. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

If you trust software that Windows Defender has detected, you can stop Windows Defender from alerting you to risks that the software might pose to your privacy or your computer. To stop being alerted, you need to add the software to the Windows Defender allowed list. If you decide that you want to monitor the software again later, you can remove it from the Windows Defender allowed list at any time.

To add an item to the allowed list, the next time Windows Defender alerts you about the software, click Always Allow on the Action menu in the Alert dialog box. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To remove an item from the allowed list, do the following:

  1. Open Windows Defender.
  2. Click Tools and then click Allowed items.
  3. Select the item that you want to monitor again, and then click Remove from List. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Cram Quiz

  1. What do you call a type of malware that can monitor user activity on the Internet and transmit information such as email addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers without the user's knowledge?

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    A.

    Spyware

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    B.

    Worm

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    C.

    Cookies

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    D.

    EULA

  2. When you find unwanted software, what do you call it when the unwanted software is placed in an isolated holding folder?

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    A.

    Quick scan

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    B.

    Quarantine

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    C.

    Recycle Bin

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    D.

    Cookie

Cram Quiz Answers

  1. A is correct. Spyware is a common threat to computers that can cause problems similar to a virus. Some of the symptoms include generating annoying pop-ups, monitoring keystrokes, scanning files on hard drives, and transmitting confidential information. Answer B is incorrect because a worm is a form of malware that replicates and consumes valuable resources including bandwidth. Answer C is incorrect because a cookie is a text file used to remember settings when visiting a website. Answer D is incorrect because a EULA is the End User License Agreement.
  2. B is correct. You can have Windows Defender place possible unwanted software into a quarantine folder so that it can be reviewed to determine if it is malware. Answer A is incorrect because a quick scan is a type of scan that is used by Windows Defender to verify key areas where spyware is most likely found. Answer C is incorrect because the Recycle Bin is a temporary holding area where deleted objects are stored. Answer D is incorrect because a cookie is a text file used to remember settings when visiting a website.
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