Reviews

Review: Qwik-Fix Pro

Qwik-Fix Pro
free through October
PivX
www.pivx.com

You probably already have some sort of protection from malware on your computer or network (otherwise, it's unlikely that you're even able to receive this newsletter). But even so, it's worth being open to new ways to protect yourself. Qwik-Fix Pro is an implementation of one of the more promising ideas I've seen lately, offering to protect you from exploits before they exist.

Qwik-Fix is designed to operate on the vulnerability level, rather than the exploit level. For example, some recent nasty worms used a hole in the ADODB.Stream object to ship nasty code into the target system. That particular hole was well-known in the security community for months before the worm appeared. One of the things that Qwik-Fix does is disable the ActiveX object in question, making the system invulnerable to any worm that tries to exploit this particular vulnerability.

Qwik-Fix includes patches for a dozen or so such dubious Windows features, from disabling the Messenger service to tweaking the security settings for the My Computer zone. These patches are done dynamically when you run Qwik-Fix, and you can turn them off at any time, either all at once or individually, if you discover you're one of the rare users who depends on the affected functionality. There's also an updating function that lets you download new fixes.

There are two versions of Qwik-Fix. The first is for individual computers, and you manage it by hand. The second is for networks, and lets you deal with security settings and updates centrally. You can grab the home version for free, or try out the enterprise version. While the package isn't perfect (in particular, I wish it would better document exactly what it's doing), it does add another layer of protection to Windows. In my experience with the betas over the last few months it's been inobtrusive and trouble-free.

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