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Security updates for Microsoft Windows XP, How to update TIS for free

How to update TIS for free, forever.

I recently embarked on a mission to find out how to keep my newest favorite antivirus program Trend Micro Internet Security (PC-cillin 2004) virus definition files up to date after the initial subscription period expires. Most antivirus makers do make provision for this but as I quickly discovered, none of them make it very easy. The easy road is to pay them which keeps the updates coming automatically. The cheapskate solution not so easy. If you’re interested in taking this path as I was, I’ll try to help you solve the puzzle and streamline the process to make it a little easier than TM would probably like it to be.

To the folks at TM: Sorry guys. It’s my civic duty.

Different versions of Trend Micro vary slightly in the naming of the directories into which the program files are installed. Because of this I point you to this help page at the Trend Micro web site which describes the differences. In all cases, once you’ve located the install directory using Windows Explorer you must manually create a new subdirectory beneath it called Source. If you’re not sure how to do this, instructions can be found in the Windows Explorer help files by searching for “Create a folder.” The new folder path will look something like this C:Program FilesTrend MicroInternet SecuritySource.

The next step is to create a convenient shortcut to the utility that will allow you to update your antivirus program more easily. In Windows Explorer, browse back up one directory level to the main install directory and look for a file named tmupdito.exe. Right-click and drag it with your mouse onto your desktop then release. Click “Create shortcut(s) here”. You can leave this shortcut on your desktop or move it into your start menu or some other folder as long as you’ll know where to easily find it later. You can also rename the shortcut to something more legible. I renamed mine to just “TM Update.”

If your yearly paid subscription has already expired, unless you disable automatic updates in the main program TM will continue to bug you with reminders that you must renew in order to continue to be protected. The truth is you must update in order to be protected, not necessarily pay to renew. Open the main program, find the update settings and disable any automatic updates by unchecking those boxes.

This completes the preparation for all future manual updates.

To perform manual updates from here on, click this link to Trend Micro. This is the same link as below for PC-cillin updates. Click the file under Official Pattern Release for your computer type and save it to a temporary folder. The files come in zipped format which means you’ll need to unzip the compressed files before using them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a computer that did not have Winzip installed on it to help streamline this task. If yours does not it’s very easy to find online, download and install. Extract the entire contents of the downloaded virus pattern zip file (i.e. lptxxx.zip) into the Source directory created earlier.

Now just double-click your shortcut to TM Update. A message will soon appear that the update has been performed. The files you extracted into the Source subdirectory will have been consumed awaiting the next update.

Once you’ve gotten used to the routine it’s quite easy. Just update once a week or so and you should be fine. Fanatics can update daily but I question the absolute need to update as often as this. It’s up to you. The best part is from here on in it’s free.

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Microsoft security updates for XP

While vacationing in South Carolina last month I read a newspaper article about Microsoft’s plans to finally release Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. It’s only been two years or so since they announced they would do something about the numerous security loopholes being exploited by hackers in XP. Now after 2 years of promises and nearly $1 billion invested in the development, it appears they’re finally about to release an update that will hopefully address most of not all of the open security issues. Given the nature of the issues addressed, the updates will be free to all XP users.

The most noticeable change users will see after the update has been installed is the OS will send prompts asking for permission before performing certain tasks that formerly were automatically granted leaving the door wide open to unauthorized access. Hopefully this marks a permanent shift in thinking at Microsoft. The former frame of mind “Let’s give users ease of use at the expense of security” (what I dubbed the Microsoft Mentality) is hopefully gone forever. Time will tell.

In order to get the updates users have two choices. First they can download the entire Service Pack in one swoop using Windows Update. However, because of the enormous size of the download this mechanism is suitable only for users who have a broadband Internet connection such as DSL, Cable Modem, T1 or other corporate facilities.

Another method suitable for all users including those using dial-up Internet service is to enable Automatic Updates. Initially this may have been enabled when XP was installed on the computer but many users may have opted to disable it instead for fear of giving Microsoft too much ability to automatically interact with their computers. Contrary to my former positions on such matters, given the potential benefits this is one time I must digress and recommend you follow Microsoft’s lead. The Automatic Updates option can be found by clicking the system Control Panel from the Start menu.

Another benefit of Automatic Updates to dial-up users is, because the connection speeds are so much slower than broadband, program updates are fed to the computer in smaller bits and pieces until the entire update can be reassembled locally and installed when complete.

Microsoft will also send a Service Pack 2 CD free of charge to any XP user that requests it as long as they’re willing to wait 4-6 weeks to get it! This being the case, they also recommend you share the CD with other friends and family who also use XP.

All three methods of update retrieval are described at the Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) Support Center. If you use XP, don’t wait another minute. Get it now.

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Progress at ICRA forces policy changes at SurfSafely

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from a confused user who had just labeled his web site with ICRA, submitted it to the SurfSafely.com directory and had been rejected because the submission engine reported the site as unlabeled. Looking more closely into the matter I discovered he was correct. The ICRA label was indeed there and placed correctly. What was missing from the label was the former RSACi counterpart for reverse compatibility on older web browsers that had not updated from RSACi to ICRA.

I contacted ICRA and asked them if they had intentionally removed the RSACi portion of their label and the answer was yes. Very quietly they had removed RSACi from their label generator and failed to notify me of the change. Unfortunately, SurfSafely.com relied on the RSACi portion of the label to help determine acceptability for the directory. The reasoning behind ICRA’s move was that since RSACi had long since been superseded by the newer and more flexible ICRA system, keeping the old was hindering progress of the new. It was time to divest of the old for good. I don’t disagree with their position. I just wish they had kept us all better informed of the change.

As an interim fix, SurfSafely.com now recognizes the trimmed down ICRA labels minus RSACi and RSACi labels only. But, in the very near future, RSACi will be phased out entirely at SurfSafely.com too. Existing entries with RSACi only labels will be allowed to remain as is for a while longer but users wishing to update their listings will be required to upgrade their label at ICRA before the directory will accept the update submission. Eventually, owners of all listings not bearing ICRA or SafeSurf labels will be notified that in order to remain in good standing their labels will need to be upgraded else be purged from the directory. This could potentially substantially diminish the size of the directory but the ease of filtering what remains will be much greater. We will also continue to encourage users of RSACi only labels to upgrade to ICRA for all the same reasons they once felt it important enough to label with RSACi and more.

To aid home users in the transition, ICRA has produced a free downloadable tool called ICRA-Plus. I am woefully behind in my review of this product but if it lives up to the hype I will link to it at SurfSafely.com. If any of you would like to try it and report your findings I would definitely consider reporting your findings here.

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