Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Time Travel Fights Infection

The Windows’ System Restore tool (see, My favorite Life Saver flavor? System Restore) gives us the ability to try to undo unhappy changes by reverting our computers’ system files to an earlier (pre-damage) point in time. This can, and often does, “save our bacon”

This cool ability to go back in time – and undo bad changes – has many people believing that they can undo a malware infection by simply going back to a time point before the infection happened.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

But the idea is a good one.

Many people are trying to create just such a type of anti-malware “system restore” – and virtualization technology seems to be the way this might be accomplished. The idea being, by running a virtual machine, if/when you get attacked and infected, it’s only the fake (“virtual”) machine that’s infected — your real machine is safe. This concept is the current wave of thinking, and development trend. It’s somewhat new.
But let’s face it: modern malware is military grade, and our current antivirus technologies are woefully behind the curve. Some new method of defense is needed.

Aside from going fully virtual, there are currently three main “virtual time machines” available to us consumers, and by great good fortune, two of my favorite tech writers each reviewed one this week, and I have been testing the third.

* Please see, Download Shadow Defender – Virtualized Intrusion Prevention
“Shadow Defender is an intrusion prevention system that is non-intrusive, and after initial setup, requires a minimum of user intervention – perfect for the average user.

Simply put, Shadow Defender, when active, creates a virtual environment on your computer by redirecting all changes to your system to an unused location on your Hard Drive.”

* Please see, Comodo Time Machine – A Powerful System Restore Utility
“If you are looking for an utility that will literally save your PC’s butt, then Comodo Time Machine may be the answer you are looking for. What this innovative utility does is take snapshots of your PC and archives those snapshots so that if you experience a computer problem (like a malware or virus attack), you simply revert back in time to one of the snapshots you had previously taken.”

I have been experimenting with  the third such program, Returnil.
Returnil virtualization technology clones a computer’s System Partition and boots the PC into this system rather than native Windows, allowing you run your applications in a completely isolated and secure environment. All activity is then performed within the virtual environment, ensuring that the operating system itself cannot be compromised by viruses, other malicious software, bad installations or user error. A simple reboot is all that is required to return the PC to its original state.”

About Returnil, I will say this: if you are interested in this program, download – and read – the User Manual. It is absolutely essential. [update: review, Download Free Returnil Virtual System 2010 Home]

About these programs in general, I will offer my humble opinion — I don’t think they are the silver bullet we’re looking for; are not quite ready for Prime Time; and are no substitute for a full backup (kept elsewhere, such as on an external drive or DVD’s). But I do think they may very well be the best defense currently available to us, and I certainly think you should be aware of them .. so why not click the links provided above and read these excellent reviews.

[note: System Restore is limited to only system files. A more “robust” answer is needed for your personal files – such as a true backup program/system, and/or Shadow Copy (see, Enable ShadowCopy On Home Editions / XP), and/or a “snapshot” backup program like Norton’s GoBack.]

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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March 16, 2010 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, hackers, how to, PC, security, software, System Restore, tech, Virtual Machine | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments