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Will using an older operating system lower your chances of Viruses?


Atmosphere XG
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I'm using Windows 2000 non-service pack.

That's quite a terrible idea.

It is just as related to Windows 98 as it is to Windows XP.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

Windows 2000 = Windows NT 5.0

Windows XP = Windows NT 5.1

They're brothers/sisters, in a way. Windows 98 is from a totally different codebase. Different kernel, different design philosophy.

What it boils down too is not really OS that attracts the virus but the area between the chair and monitor that attracts the OS.

Exactly. This is now even true for Windows XP, though there are still worms and botnets out there that can infect your computer without doing anything.

I've read numerous times Linux an Mac are less prone to viruses because they are not in the spotlight.

Which is just false.

If you want to strip down and run naked right through a patch of rose bushes and expect to not get harmed, why the heck should i try to stop you?

Because his PC could become part of a botnet and contribute to the ever-growing problem? ;)

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Most of the possible problems under Windows 98 come from the easy access to its registry, which is by far less protected than in XP.

That's why since long ago I don't rely on the standard regedit restore procedure, but rather have a copy of the main files, obtained when everything goes OK, and rebuild them alltogether in case of need using a DOS boot floppy.

My approach is similar. I have a "call" entry in autoexec.bat that calls a batch file. It's for a 2 profile setup and includes more system files and the users autostart folders. There's no visible indication that it's running unless the user presses the "1" key.

@echo off

CHOICE.COM /N /C:1234567890qwertyuioplkcjhgfdsazxvbnm`~!@#$^&*()-=_+[]}{;:'",.? /T2,6 > nul

IF ERRORLEVEL ==2 GOTO :RESTORE
IF ERRORLEVEL ==1 GOTO :CANCEL

:RESTORE
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\systemd.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\user.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\autoexec.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\config.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\protocol.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\systemi.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\win.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\msdos.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\user1.std GOTO ERROR
if not exist C:\backup\Standard\user2.std GOTO ERROR
attrib c:\windows\system.dat -s -h -r
attrib c:\windows\user.dat -s -h -r
attrib c:\msdos.sys -s -h -r
attrib c:\autoexec.bat -s -h -r
attrib c:\config.sys -s -h -r
attrib c:\windows\win.ini -s -h -r
attrib c:\windows\profiles\XXXX\user.dat -s -h -r
attrib c:\windows\profiles\YYYY\user.dat -s -h -r
copy C:\backup\Standard\systemd.std C:\windows\system.dat /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\user.std C:\windows\user.dat /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\autoexec.std C:\autoexec.bat /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\config.std C:\config.sys /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\protocol.std C:\windows\protocol.ini /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\systemi.std C:\windows\system.ini /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\win.std C:\windows\win.ini /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\msdos.std C:\msdos.sys /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\user1.std C:\windows\profiles\XXXX\user.dat /v /y > nul
copy C:\backup\Standard\user2.std C:\windows\profiles\YYYY\user.dat /v /y > nul

attrib c:\windows\system.dat +s +h +r
attrib c:\windows\user.dat +s +h +r
attrib c:\msdos.sys +s +h +r
attrib c:\windows\profiles\XXXX\user.dat +s +h +r
attrib c:\windows\profiles\YYYY\user.dat +s +h +r
del C:\windows\profiles\XXXX\startm~1\programs\startup\*.lnk > nul
del C:\windows\profiles\YYYY\startm~1\programs\startup\*.lnk > nul
xcopy C:\backup\startup C:\windows\profiles\XXXX\startm~1\programs\startup > nul
xcopy C:\backup\Cstartup C:\windows\profiles\YYYY\startm~1\programs\startup > nul
goto :EXIT

:CANCEL
echo.
echo.
echo.
echo ÉÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ»
echo º º
echo º *** RESTORE CANCELLED! *** º
echo º º
echo ÈÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍͼ
echo.
echo.
goto :EXIT

:ERROR
echo Backups missing
pause
goto :EXIT

:EXIT
command /c exit

Edited to remove non applicable parts of batch file.

Edited by herbalist
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Must be a slow day!

This topic has become a total waste of space.

Someone should learn what "security by obscurity" means before using the phrase.

As for the rubbish about the post title breaching rule 12. I would suggest finding a remedial English course and enrolling for about 10 years!

Thanks to XP/Vista freaks and illiterates, this forum is becomming less and less useful or relevant.

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I want to thank everyone for there input.

It seems this thread has turned into what I was not aiming for. :wacko:

I made this post for Windows 98 & 95 users to see where they stood in terms of popularity and, mentioned with Windows 2000 being so similar in statistics I've had better luck security wise with Windows 2000 and Windows 98 First Edition than Windows XP.

I find myself defending my choice of operating systems because many feel they know my surfing habits better than I that never changed (But in fact decreased) within a 10-year period.

For the record, the last version of Internet Explorer I used was version 5 when it was considered the latest version. I left IE 5 and went to Opera and, never looked back. I do use a router for the two computers online. All my bookmarks are saved on a HTML page so, typing web addresses is something I rarely do. All I do is right click, "Open in background page." My trashing of registries came from my early experience of Windows when I didn't fully understand what registries did. I'm sure we all remember our first Windows tweaking experience.

This was never about me using Windows 2000. It was about 98 & 95 users security and, how I attained nearly trouble free (Based on Viruses) service using Windows 98 First Edition and, 2000 for a 10-year period. Seeing that I spent 90% of my Internet experience on Windows 98 first edition (1998 - 2007), I do relate more to Windows 98 users than those of Windows 2000.

This is the reason why I created the thread in the Windows 98, 95 &, ME forum. :thumbup

I can guarantee many who are saying I am running a risk of using an outdated system for the Internet have different surfing habits than I. Many run Windows 98 SE and, 95 out of sheer pleasure and, have an XP or Vista machine. Well, I only had Windows 98 (2007 - 1998) & Windows 2000 (2008 - 2007) because my machines were not strong enough for XP or Vista.

How many of you are running an AMD K6 500 MHz, or a Celeron 500 MHz in this day in age? :ph34r: There are many things you just cannot do today with Computers that old on the Internet. Hence, comes compromise and, I used the Pentium 4 with Windows XP with that same mentality.

A Pentium 4 is outdated by many on here due to having dual and, quad-core processors at their disposal. For me, the Pentium 4 is a brand new computer. I buy them cheap on ebay ($60.00) for making music.

I came into some money and, decided to treat myself with a strong (IMHO) Pentium 4 to experience the Internet in a more up-to-date manner using Windows XP Service Pack 3. That's when my Internet pleasure turned into turmoil. So, it does seem logical based on my experience to go back to Windows 2000 on my Celeron 500 MHZ.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if I encounter some type of virus within a months time on 2000, I will need try to determine what is the problem. If all goes well, I will look for Sata drivers (Which means Windows 2000 must be updated to SP4 from Non-Service Pack) and install it on my Pentium 4.

Thank you.

Edited by Atmosphere XG
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How many of you are running an AMD K6 500 MHz, or a Celeron 500 MHz in this day in age?

I'm running a 366mhz Celeron and 98FE. Does that count? Those who think that it's too risky to run 98 on todays internet don't know how to take care of it properly. I enjoy browsing anywhere I want and not having to worry about it, downloading exe's on P2P, or collecting the latest zero day exploits and finding that they don't do anything of consequence to a 9X system. The only ones I'm concerned with are ones that target the specific applications I use. They can be dealt with as well. The "get with the times" crowd can say what they want. When your OS of choice does what you need, safely and reliably, that's all that really matters.

My trashing of registries came from my early experience of Windows when I didn't fully understand what registries did. I'm sure we all remember our first Windows tweaking experience.

As long as you can get back to where you started from, registry trashing experiments are good learning experiences. The project I'm working on has trashed it several times. When I get back to it, I'll probably trash it a few more times. Today, busy trashing bigger things, like my home network. Actually I'm trying to undo the trashing I did to it.

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How many of you are running an AMD K6 500 MHz, or a Celeron 500 MHz in this day in age? There are many things you just cannot do today with Computers that old on the Internet.

My main computer is running on a Pentium II 233 Mhz. Apart from embedded Flash (I use the stand-alone player and YouTube downloading services) and Java, I can do anything I want.

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Got a Pentium III 700MHz as a secondary computer, and I can even watch youtube in it :-)

And I didn't question your habits, just pointed out that OSes don't infect themselves that way. I'm running Win98 in my secondary gig (with a 8-year old brother playing arround with it the whole day), Vista in my primary one and XP in another primary one. None of them EVER got infected just like that, specially because I'm behind a router. Perhaps some bad tweaking in your web browser, or one of the sites you visit exploilt something in Flash or Acrobat or whatever, and the old versions didn't have the vulnerability yet.

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Not even once throughout this board have I found the hypothesis that viral attacks might very well be geographically (regionally) targeted based on IP/ISP as well as local codepage and other related data returned by the browsers.

I find this to be the best possible explanation for all those controversial reports stating user X in country A using OS version M has never been infected, while user Y in country B using same OS version and same/similar browsing habits has had multiple infections in a short period of time.

As to my personal experience, I can't even recall when was it that I first connected to the Internet - it was the 14400 bps dial-up modem era anyway - but ever since I've only used Win95 4.0.950B and later on Win98SE 4.10.2222A until present day. Back in the day, with a 25MHz 486, I had no resources for a software firewall and routers were still unheard of in this area. I've had my share of infections of all types until I've learned how to dodge them, first of all by guessing which file could possibly pose a threat and checking it out.

In this regard, Total Commander was a tremendous help - of course, with additional plug-ins installed - since it offered a much better and faster overwiew on file properties and dependencies (using the FileInfo plug-in), especially by having hidden/sytem files visible as well as creation date, extension and size - details that Explorer doesn't show by default.

I'm sure there are many useful tools out there but in time I got used to only a bunch of them and they've served me well always.

I should mention TweakUI 1.33 which is extremely useful for setting up automated tasks such as cleaning up MRUs (the Paranoia tab), disabling CD/DVD autorun, disabling DOS Scandisk autorun on boot.

Then there's CodeStuff Starter, an advanced startup configuration and task manager that quickly allows for an overview and disabling of suspect startup items as well as killing suspect processes (when possible).

Spyware Blaster is another great prevention tool, which disables access to known dangerous sites as well as blocking the installation of malware through registry tweaks.

As I already mentioned, my hardware never allowed me to run a software firewall and/or a real-time antivirus, which forced me to pay good attention to places I surf and applications I run. In time, I managed to stay well away from infections without using anything else but the aforementioned tools and a great supply of common-sense. Also, there may be 7-8 years or more since I completely disabled Recycle Bin and removed it from the desktop; this brings a great deal of responsability with it but so far I managed to avoid heart-attacks.

Oddly enough, apart from a short period of time, long ago, when I've used Netscape, SlimBrowser - which is IE based - has been my only browser and apart from its quite high resource usage lately, has also served me well through years. And as I'm typing this, I'm trying to recall when was the last time I powered off this machine, but I can't - could be a couple months or more and of course, it's always been connected to the Internet, 24/7 (except for reboots, which happen every 3-6 days, depending on spare resources). Need I say I'm running the official version of eMule 24/7 too while building and testing alpha versions of software? For reference, my working machines have been: 486SX/25MHz, 16MB RAM -> 486DX/66MHz, 32MB RAM -> PentiumMMX/200MHz, 64MB RAM -> Pentium III/800MHz, 256MB RAM -> Pentium II/400MHz, 256MB RAM -> Pentium III/700MHz, 256MB RAM currently.

Bottom line is, Windows98SE has always been my best friend and will continue to be for as long as possible. Virus-free, spyware-free, worries-free.

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Not even once throughout this board have I found the hypothesis that viral attacks might very well be geographically (regionally) targeted based on IP/ISP as well as local codepage and other related data returned by the browsers.

I find this to be the best possible explanation for all those controversial reports stating user X in country A using OS version M has never been infected, while user Y in country B using same OS version and same/similar browsing habits has had multiple infections in a short period of time.

-snip-

Never heard of this and can't find any prior mention in this thread.

--

Sweet William

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I haven't seen regional targeting used by the malicious code itself, but I have seen where malicious (or compromised) sites will only attack visitors with IPs from certain countries or that will attack all users except those from a certain country or IP range. I've also heard of instances where a malicious site will use dozens of different exploits, and the visitors IP will be one of the factors that are used in deciding which exploit it will try to use. Sometimes a vulnerability is language dependent, eg it will infect the Chinese version of a PC but not the German or English version. Quite often, javascript is used to determine the potential victims OS, browser in use, etc. Sometimes the user agent from the headers is used. Spoofing the user agent and blocking those particular scripts can help protect you. Sites that use the browser headers to determine your OS and browser see mine as XP and IE6.

Rick

Edited by herbalist
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Yes, user agent can be spoofed or blocked, but I'm not talking exclusively about online infections. Virii can be deployed offline through infected material (i.e. someone got a CD from a friend, installs a game/application and gets infected - or not).

A few years ago we've had a virus created on demand to infect the terminals of a certain bank. It would ignore any other machines that were not within that bank's domain. That's called targeted attack. By the same logic, it wouldn't be hard at all for someone to deploy malitious code in - let's say - the AOL network, that would only target their specific users without harming any others even if it went at large.

There's another thing crossing my mind, dunno if I'm right or wrong about this. Few years ago while I was still worrying about infections and did follow antivirus updates, there were regular mentions of obsolete virii, considered 'extinct'. Antivirus producers would remove those signatures from their databases. I now wonder, what would happen if one would release such an ancient virus off of an old floppy, HDD, CD, etc. Hopefully this won't happen, knock on wood, but if it did, many of us 9x users that consider ourselves safe without any firewall/AV protection could potentially suffer major damage.

Oh and while I'm here: Rick, would you please send me those rootkit-like file(s) you have, for a test? I'm very curious about their structure (not that I'd understand much anyway, but I'm just very curious and nosy :P ). Thank you.

Edited by Drugwash
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That bank incident sounds like they had help on the inside. I would think that an institution like a bank would have disabled those attack vectors (the CD, floppy, USB, etc).

I've also wondered if they remove the old stuff from their detections. Since most of them have dropped 9X support, they may have also dropped detections for code that only attacks 9X or DOS. I have no idea how you'd be able to tell. Would they admit it if they did? I couldn't imagine trying to dismantle their detection lists to see what's there. Way too much to look thru and manually check.

I now wonder, what would happen if one would release such an ancient virus off of an old floppy, HDD, CD, etc. Hopefully this won't happen, knock on wood, but if it did, many of us 9x users that consider ourselves safe without any firewall/AV protection could potentially suffer major damage.

They still have the problem of getting it on your system and getting the user to launch it. CDs autoplayed if the user didn't change that setting. CDs are still used to install malicious code. Remember the Sony DRM rookit? A lot of PCs are still infected by that thing.

IMO, running 9X without some security measures in place is asking for trouble. The operating system itself may not be targeted as much as it used to be but the user software is. Just because most conventional security software is either incompatible with 9X or is too heavy/bloated to run on it decently does not mean that 9X users have to run unsecured. There's better ways to secure a 9X system that won't slow it down, starting with a default-deny policy. Keeping tract of 50 or so known good applications that are permitted is much more efficient that trying to detect and keep up with hundreds of thousands that you don't want. My security apps combined use 17.2MB of disk space, over half of which is used by alternate setups and configuration files used for testing purposes. Resource usage is even better.

1memload98FE.gif

Add a batch file to the above that replaces your registry, core system files, and autostart locations with clean copies at bootup. Take the applications that can potentially open malicious code and/or infected files and isolate them as much as possible from each other and from the OS itself. Top it off with a good system backup plan.

If these are done, there isn't much left that malicious code can do to your system. Your system remains unchanged from day to day, month to month until you decide to change or update something. Occasionally you do have to change the settings for some user application or modify the rules in the internet or application firewall, especially if a vulnerability is found in the user software and the 9X version isn't going to be fixed. That's normal with any security package. It takes a little time to get everything configured the way you want it, especially if there's multiple user profiles involved, but when it's done the package is quiet. It doesn't alert or prompt you unless it's important. Best of all, it takes the decisions away from other users. No prompts = no user mistakes.

Rick

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Well, my machine is configured in a quite unsecured way - even Spyware Blaster tells me that, regarding IE settings. Still, 98SE was installed on this HDD on Sep 17, 2006 and never had an infection of any kind. There are certain tweaks that I've performed right after installing and in time, though and I always wanted to put together a collection of such tweaks and maybe even crop an AHK script to give'em a GUI, but my mind's so unfocused lately that I never get around doing it.

BTW, neat little tool that Memload, it shows me how hungry eMule is: 161.7 MB. However, SlimBrowser is only at 31.2 MB with 4 open tabs - dunno your SeaMonkey, as it shows a higher memory usage. But really, I got no protection here whatsoever, except for Spyware Blaster. I do believe my (new) ISP keeps me behind a router though, so this may be in my favor.

Edited by Drugwash
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For as long as I can I will preserve Windows 98 SE, even when I use also Windows XP normally. Each of both allows you doing things that couldn't be done while using the other.

Windows 98 allows me to see everyting in the HD and to keep an exact copy of absolutely everything using a parallel external drive, which I switch on only when running Windows 98. The advantage of this is not only having an exact copy to compare at any moment what has been changed, deleted or introduced at any of the 32 GB partitions: I've already had a HD failure and only needed to replace the HD using the external one, activating its bootsector by running bootpart.exe from a floppy.

XP has a better resources management, has more new apps, and it pays to have it. But I have no confidence at all in the XP self-made decisions, the high control it has on anything you do, any program you use or any Internet site you visit. No transparency at all. I don't even use the XP Mydocs folder.

As somebody has already said in this thread, viruses are in the sites you go into and in the files that you introduce into your comp. Of course, in any case there are obviously more hackers working in this moment for NT than for Linux or any old OS not based in the NT structure.

IMHO the best for you is not having one or the other, but the one and the other. In any case, if eventually one of them were infected it would not affect to the other and you could restore everything in less than 5 minutes.

And also for total security, for the reasons I've said, I would recomend to use a parallel external USB2 HD.

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I have found Windows 98SE very safe to use on the internet. Using a basic ADSL modem have not had a problem with picking up any nasty's even without a firewall.

But in defence of Windows XP, I have not had any problems with Windows XP SP2 computers (the ones with the firewall on by default).

When using Windows 2000 and XP without firewalls it was amazing how quickly I picked up trogans, viruses etc, one time I did no more than just logged onto Google for a few minutes, next I knew my computer was under control by someone else. There are programs out their that just PING the internet for unprotected computers.

I have used Windows 2000 SP4 on the internet with a very basic software firewall program without any hassles from internet gremlins.

Basically I am happy to use Windows 98 Second Edition on the internet without a firewall, but anything else newer you need a firewall.

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