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Make an Anti Virus Bootable USB Thumb Drive

UPDATE! The BLTDVS Toolkit in its original form as referred to below is now obsolete. The current state of the art has yielded self-contained USB installer tools for most of the popular anti virus rescue CDs.

I have updated this article with the latest information and put two versions of popular rescue CD USB installers in the revised BLTDVS Toolkit which is still available for download from the original location when you sign up for my newsletter list.

With all the various flavors of anti virus rescue CDs around, it’s an easy matter to create a CD bootable anti virus scanner that will operate offline to disinfect even the worst malware infestation. In most cases, all you have to do is download the vendor’s latest rescue CD ISO image, burn it, boot it, and let the program do its thing. Easy. Making a bootable USB thumb drive from the ISO is another matter.

Extracting the files from an ISO image to the thumb drive requires a few tricks to accomplish. You can, of course, just download my BLTDVS toolkit from How to make a bootable thumb drive virus scanner for NTFS: 2009 update,? and follow the included instructions but, that toolkit is specifically optimized to work with the Kaspersky Rescue CD; what if you prefer to use a different vendor’s rescue package?

There’s a cool open source utility called UNetbootin that allows you to create bootable live USB drives for a variety of Linux distributions without requiring you to burn a CD. This is perfect since most, if not all, of the rescue CDs are Linux based. The UNetbootin site has full instructions on how to use the tool complete with screen shots. There are also several utilities and rescue tools listed for use with UNetbootin.

BitDefender

Download the BitDefenderRescueCD_###.iso into the BLTDVS_toolkit folder if you have it, or make a folder of your own.
Download and launch the Universal USB Installer or launch it from the BLTDVS_toolkit folder. Select the option “Try unlisted Linux ISO (Old Syslinux)” then browse to the BitDefender ISO file.

Kaspersky

Download the Kaspersky Rescue CD and save it to the BLTDVS_toolkit folder.
Download the rescue2usb utility and launch it or launch it from the BLTDVS-toolkit folder.

Cheers!
The Geek

2

“14 Golden Rules of Computer Security” Nearing Completion

My new eBook, “14 Golden Rules of Computer Security” is almost complete and will be ready for downloading shortly. Written with the non-technical person in mind, the book is packed with proven, practical advice on how to stay safe on the Wild, Wild Web including bonus articles about creating strong, easy-to-remember passwords and email security tips. I give you tons of links to free and low-cost tools as well as special discounts for software and services by some of the best computer security companies in the business. It’s a must-have for every computer owner.

Based upon my popular “How to Secure Your Computer” series of web articles and fully updated with late-breaking information on safe searching and social networks, “14 Golden Rules of Computer Security” will help you develop your own secure computing practices and save you from the hassle of dealing with unpleasant malware attacks.

The book will cost $9.95 for the general public, but all Ask the Geek subscribers will be sent a download link and password for a free copy, so be sure to sign up. (If you already closed the subscription panel, you can sign up by clicking here or on the Sign Up! link on the Pages sidebar.)

Sign up today and then watch your email for the release announcement and download instructions.

0

How to make a bootable thumb drive virus scanner for NTFS: 2009 update

NOTE! The BLTDVS Toolkit in its original form is now obsolete. The current state of the art has yielded self-contained USB installer tools for most of the popular antivirus rescue CDs.

I have updated this article: Make an Anti Virus Bootable USB Thumb Drive with the latest information and put two versions of popular rescue CD USB installers in the revised BLTDVS Toolkit which is still available for download from the original location when you sign up for my newsletter list.

Once again, in May 2009, I have had to revise this article because Avira’s updates no longer work (thanks, Cindy, for your help in pointing out the problem to me). This new revision supercedes all previous articles I have posted on this subject; specifically, these two:

http://askthegeek.kennyhart.com/2005/12/how-to-make-bootable-thumb-drive-virus.html

http://askthegeek.kennyhart.com/2007/03/update-how-to-make-bootable-thumb-drive_20.html

“How to make a bootable thumb drive virus scanner for NTFS” is the second most popular article on this site, outranked only by “My Computer Won’t Shut Down!” and I thank you for visiting Ask the Geek for advice on these issues. Because of the continuing popularity of the thumb drive virus scanner, I want to make sure you have up to date and relevant information. The two articles listed above are outdated.

The original DOS-based version of the thumb drive virus scanner used F-Prot Antivirus for DOS, one of the best and most popular DOS-based? scanners for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, F-Secure is no longer updating the virus definitions for that version. In fact, the F-Prot virus signatures are now almost two years old, making them virtually useless. Other vendors are following suit. I’ve had quite a bit of feedback asking me if I could solve this problem and provide an updated method of offline virus scanning.

The good news is that, yes, I’ve solved the problem, thanks to the fact that several vendors offer free bootable rescue CDs for download. Most of these run under some flavor of Linux and after a bit of hacking, I found it’s a simple matter to make a bootable thumb drive from the images.

Note: Avira has changed the ISO image *again* since this article was first posted. I have had comments from some people that the new ISOs just don’t work right on the thumb drive. As of May 2009, the VDF updates cause the old version to fail. I have revised the steps below and updated the BLTDVS toolkit. 

I chose the Kaspersky Rescue CD from Kaspersky Lab for my latest incarnation of the thumb drive virus scanner. Since it runs under Linux, it has native NTFS read/write support making it unnecessary to use any third party tools like NTFS4DOS (which is still available, but no longer supported by Avira).

Here’s how to be up and running with your own copy of my latest tool in just a few minutes. I’ve made it easy by providing everything you need, except the rescue CD image:

  1. I no longer require that you make a donation, but would appreciate it greatly. I’ve worked hard to keep the BLTDVS toolkit up to date and will contintue to do so.
  2. I do require that you sign up on my list. That is the only way to get the download link and password for the BLTDVS toolkit. Once you sign up and confirm your subscription, the welcome email will give you instructions, a link to the new toolkit, and the password.
  3. If you bypassed the fade-in sign-up form when you arrived at this page, you can click here to go to another sign-up page or click on Sign Up! in the toolbar to the right.
  4. Download the BLTDVS toolkit from the link I send you.
  5. Extract the folder to the root of your hard drive.
  6. Download the Kaspersky Rescue CD ISO image
  7. Move the CD ISO image to the BLTDVS_toolkit folder?
  8. Plug in your thumb drive.
  9. Open the BLTDVS_toolkit folder and navigate to the DriveKey folder.
  10. Run HPUSBF.EXE (command line version) or HPUSBW.EXE (windows version) and format your thumb drive using FAT or FAT32. Deselect the “Create a DOS startup disk” option.
  11. Open the BLTDVS_toolkit folder and copy or move its contents to your thumb drive. Don’t move the actual folder.
  12. On your thumb drive, double-click avrescd.bat. This will extract the necessary files from the ISO image to your thumb drive. Be sure you specify the right drive letter for your thumb drive.
  13. Once the files have been extracted, makeboot.bat will be called automatically. See the caution in the next step!
  14. CAUTION! This step is dangerous! Heed the warning message. Please verify the correct flash drive letter is being displayed before proceeding. Do not run this file on your hard drive or your current MBR will be overwritten rendering Windows unbootable. (This isn’t a complete disaster, but it takes some geeky knowledge to fix it.)? NOTE: If you are usingVista, you may see a “failure to update the MBR” error. In this case, right-click the file and specify “Run as administrator.”
  15. Hit any key to exit. You now have bootable Linux thumb drive virus scanner that will handle NTFS drives as well as most other formats.

One really cool feature of the Kaspersky program is that it will allow you to update it over the Internet as long as you’re plugged into your network. It doesn’t work well with a wireless connection (which both of my laptops have), but I haven’t had a bit of trouble getting an address and updating when I’m plugged in.

Another great feature of the program is that it has a built in file manager, so you can also use it to recover files from an infected hard drive without having to boot into the native OS.

As always, feedback is welcome. I want to know how this tool is working for you.

(Thanks to PDLA ©2007 http://pendrivelinux.com and Lance ©2008? http://pendrivelinux.com. Syslinux is ©1994-2006 H. Peter Anvin http://syslinux.zytor.com for the files used in this tool.)

Cheers!
The Geek

14

IE8 Running Slow? Try This

Though I haven’t had any problems of my own, I know a couple of people who installed IE8 and then complained about it running very slowly, sometimes completely bogging down their systems. This type of behavior usually signals a problem with system resources, but thanks to Ed Bott over at ZDNet, there may be a simple fix. His article, “Is IE8 really fat and slow?” gives a simple command that may help (restart your computer after running the command):

regsvr32 actxprxy.dll

That re-registers the ActiveX Interface Marshaling Library, an obscure DLL that most people (even Microsoft experts) had never heard about. (Update: 27-Mar: Note that if you try this using Windows Vista, you must do this from an elevated Command Prompt window; type cmd in the Start menu Search box, right-click the Cmd.exe shortcut, and then choose Run As Administrator.)

According to Ed, when one of his colleagues did this, the results were stunning and IE8 was stable as well as performing faster.

Let me know if you’ve had any trouble and if this tweak helps.

Cheers!
The Geek

12

Microsoft Equips Individuals With New Training Resources Needed for Jobs

Elevate America initiative provides technology skills tools at no cost and low cost.

This is great news for anyone who wants to pursue a technical career. This is the kind of stimulus that will really make a difference!

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 22, 2009, Microsoft Corp. today announced a new initiative, Elevate America, which will provide up to 2 million people over the next three years with the technology training needed to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

Microsoft has worked for years with other businesses and community-based partners to broaden access to job opportunities through information technology education and training. Elevate America expands these efforts and provides immediate support in response to the current economic crisis in partnership with others in the public and private sector.

Elevate America has two main offerings, one available immediately and one that will be provided in partnership with state governments including those of Florida, New York and Washington.

A new online resource, located at http://www.microsoft.com/ElevateAmerica, is available today. This new Web site helps individuals understand what types of technical skills they need for the jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities of today and tomorrow, and resources to help acquire these skills. The Web site provides access to several Microsoft online training programs, including how to use the Internet, send e-mail and create a “sum”, as well as more advanced programs on using specific Microsoft applications….

If you would like to receive information when the Elevate America resources become available in your state, please follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/elevateamerica.

0

How to make a bootable thumb drive virus scanner for NTFS: 2008 update

Once again, in May 2009, I have had to revise this article because Avira’s updates no longer work (thanks, Cindy, for your help in pointing out the problem to me). You can find the latest revision here as well. This new revision supercedes all previous articles I have posted on this subject; specifically, these two:

http://askthegeek.kennyhart.com/2005/12/how-to-make-bootable-thumb-drive-virus.html

http://askthegeek.kennyhart.com/2007/03/update-how-to-make-bootable-thumb-drive_20.html

“How to make a bootable thumb drive virus scanner for NTFS” is the second most popular article on this site, outranked only by “My Computer Won’t Shut Down!” and I thank you for visiting Ask the Geek for advice on these issues. Because of the continuing popularity of the thumb drive virus scanner, I want to make sure you have up to date and relevant information. The two articles listed above are outdated.

The original DOS-based version of the thumb drive virus scanner used F-Prot Antivirus for DOS, one of the best and most popular DOS-based? scanners for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, F-Secure is no longer updating the virus definitions for that version. In fact, the F-Prot virus signatures are now almost two years old, making them virtually useless. Other vendors are following suit. I’ve had quite a bit of feedback asking me if I could solve this problem and provide an updated method of offline virus scanning.

The good news is that, yes, I’ve solved the problem, thanks to the fact that several vendors offer free bootable rescue CDs for download. Most of these run under some flavor of Linux and after a bit of hacking, I found it’s a simple matter to make a bootable thumb drive from the images.

Note: Avira has changed the ISO image *again* since this article was first posted. I have had comments from some people that the new ISOs just don’t work right on the thumb drive. As of May 2009, the VDF updates cause the old version to fail. I have revised the steps below and updated the BLTDVS toolkit. Because of? the popularity of this toolkit, I am getting bills for excess bandwidth useage. If you find this toolkit useful, please consider making a donation by clicking the “Donate” button. As soon as I am notified of your donation (any amount, minimum $1), I’ll send you the link to the toolkit that contains the ISO image I originally tested.

I chose the Kaspersky Rescue CD from Kaspersky Lab for my latest incarnation of the thumb drive virus scanner. Since it runs under Linux, it has native NTFS read/write support making it unnecessary to use any third party tools like NTFS4DOS (which is still available, but no longer supported by Avira).

Here’s how to be up and running with your own copy of my latest tool in just a few minutes. I’ve made it easy by providing everything you need, except the rescue CD image:

  1. I no longer require that you make a donation, but would appreciate it greatly. I’ve worked hard to keep the BLTDVS toolkit up to date and will contintue to do so.
  2. I do require that you sign up on my list. That is the only way to get the download link and password for the BLTDVS toolkit. Once you sign up and confirm your subscription, the welcome email will give you instructions, a link to the new toolkit, and the password.
  3. If you bypassed the fade-in sign-up form when you arrived at this page, you can click here to go to another sign-up page or click on Sign Up! in the toolbar to the right.
  4. Download the BLTDVS toolkit from the link I send you.
  5. Extract the folder to the root of your hard drive.
  6. Download the Kaspersky Rescue CD ISO image
  7. Move the CD ISO image to the BLTDVS_toolkit folder?
  8. Plug in your thumb drive.
  9. Open the BLTDVS_toolkit folder and navigate to the DriveKey folder.
  10. Run HPUSBF.EXE (command line version) or HPUSBW.EXE (windows version) and format your thumb drive using FAT or FAT32. Deselect the “Create a DOS startup disk” option.
  11. Open the BLTDVS_toolkit folder and copy or move its contents to your thumb drive. Don’t move the actual folder.
  12. On your thumb drive, double-click avrescd.bat. This will extract the necessary files from the ISO image to your thumb drive. Be sure you specify the right drive letter for your thumb drive.
  13. Once the files have been extracted, makeboot.bat will be called automatically. See the caution in the next step!
  14. CAUTION! This step is dangerous! Heed the warning message. Please verify the correct flash drive letter is being displayed before proceeding. Do not run this file on your hard drive or your current MBR will be overwritten rendering Windows unbootable. (This isn’t a complete disaster, but it takes some geeky knowledge to fix it.)? NOTE: If you are usingVista, you may see a “failure to update the MBR” error. In this case, right-click the file and specify “Run as administrator.”
  15. Hit any key to exit. You now have bootable Linux thumb drive virus scanner that will handle NTFS drives as well as most other formats.

One really cool feature of the Kaspersky program is that it will allow you to update it over the Internet as long as you’re plugged into your network. It doesn’t work well with a wireless connection (which both of my laptops have), but I haven’t had a bit of trouble getting an address and updating when I’m plugged in.

Another great feature of the program is that it has a built in file manager, so you can also use it to recover files from an infected hard drive without having to boot into the native OS.

As always, feedback is welcome. I want to know how this tool is working for you.

(Thanks to PDLA ©2007 http://pendrivelinux.com and Lance ©2008? http://pendrivelinux.com. Syslinux is ©1994-2006 H. Peter Anvin http://syslinux.zytor.com for the files used in this tool.)

Cheers!
The Geek

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3

How to Secure Your Computer – 14 Maxims

This post is long overdue. Having completed my How to Secure Your Computer series of articles, it’s time to get links to all of them organized on a single page.

The series debuted on January 4, 2007 on my Lockergnome blog, Ask the Geek, Too. I continued to post them there until March, 2008 when other commitments forced me to put that blog on the back burner. (Chris Pirillo and the Lockergnome gang have been gracious enough to keep my content live and I hope to contribute there again in the future.) I have since revised and re-posted all of the maxims on my Security Corner blog, most of them having been given more catchy titles. You will find the entire archive in descending chronological order in the Security Maxim archives – Security Corner.

Below are links to the original postings up to and including Maxim #11 which was the last one posted to Lockergnome; nos. 12, 13, & 14 are new and appear only at Security Corner.

2007.01.04 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #1
2007.02.22 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #2 (or, How Not to Invite Attackers Into Your PCs and Networks)
2007.03.03 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #3
2007.03.14 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #4
2007.05.30 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #5
2007.06.27 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #6
2007.07.25 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #7
2007.07.26 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #8
2007.07.28 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #9
2007.08.17 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #10
2007.10.29 – How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #11

I will soon make available a complete compilation of these articles for download as a free bonus to everyone who subscribes to my feed.

Cheers!
The Geek

0

WiFi Security–The Only Way is WPA

One of these days, I’m going to catch up with this site and get links posted to all the new content I’ve been generating over at Security Corner. For now, I thought you’d like to read the latest article in the How to Secure Your Computer series. I’m up to 13 now. The next post here will be a list of all of them. Here you go:

http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/security-corner/wifi-security-the-only-way-is-wpa/

Cheers!

The Geek

Filed in: How To, Security, Tips
0

Update 2008: How to make a bootable thumb drive virus scanner for NTFS

The original article and subsequent updates require a change of procedure. Avira, who acquired NTFS4DOS, apparently changed the installation procedure and included a new program to create a bootable floppy disk. If you use the program floppywz.exe to install NTFS4DOS to your thumb drive, you end up with a 1.44 MB thumb drive and cannot install F-prot.

DO NOT run floppywz.exe, but navigate to the installation directory: by default, C:\Program Files\Avira\NTFS4DOS and simply copy the NTFS4DOS to your thumb drive. Copy F-prot and then boot to your thumb drive. You’ll no longer see a startup menu, but just a DOS prompt. At the prompt, type "ntfs4dos" without the quotes and hit enter. Then, you can run F-prot.

Here’s the last update prior to this one:

http://askthegeek.kennyhart.com/2007/03/update-how-to-make-bootable-thumb-drive_20.html

Cheers!
The Geek

0

Dave’s Computer Tips has a new writer – me!

I’m proud to announce that Dave Hartsock of Dave’s Computer Tips has graciously invited me to write the Security Focus section of his excellent newsletter. Dave has done a great job of putting together a wealth of content. Check out this lineup from the November 1, 2007 issue:

#1 – Newbies Nook – Information for those who are new to computers and computing.
#2 – Problems in Paradise – Answers to reader problems and questions.
#3 – Security Focus – Computer Security by Kenny Hart.
#4 – Getting Starting with Linux – David Kopp points the way.
#5 – Creating Nested Tables – Carol tells us how to do it in Word and OpenOffice Writer.
#6 – My Recommended Software – Need software? Check this list first!
#7 – Useful Freeware – Useful programs that you may find useful. Did I mention they’re free!
#8 – Useful web sites – Websites I’ve visited lately that you may find useful.
#9 – The Lighter Side – Some humor to lighten your load!
#10 – Odds and Ends – A little bit of this and a little bit of that!

Recently, I had a long conversation with Dave and I can tell you that besides just being an all-around nice guy, he definitely has your interests in mind. He’s committed to providing the best information he can on a regular schedule.

It would be great if all of you wonderful Ask the Geek fans would hop on over to his site and subscribe to his newsletter.

And while you’re at it, take a moment to sign up to get my latest posts via email. That way, if you forget to check the site, you won’t miss out on the latest info.

Cheers!
The Geek

0
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