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Book Review - Fight Spam, Viruses, Pop-Ups & Spyware

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 9:09 pm    Post subject: Book Review - Fight Spam, Viruses, Pop-Ups & Spyware Reply with quote

Fight Spam, Viruses, Pop-Ups & Spyware

Author(s): Ken Feinstein Technical Reviewer: Robert Vamosi
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/ Osborne
Date Published: 2004
Book Specifications: Softcover, 234 pages
Category: PCS/Antivirus
Reviewer's Recommended User Level: Beginners
Suggested Publisher Price: $24.99 US / $34.95 CDN / L14.99 UK
ISBN: 0-07-225655-9
Amazon.com: Fight Spam, Viruses, Pop-Ups & Spyware
Amazon.co.uk: Fight Spam, Viruses, Pop-Ups & Spyware

Blurb from back cover: “Get expert advice on finally ridding your computer of annoying spam and pop-up ads and invasive viruses, spyware, and adware. You’ll discover where these electronic nuisances originate, how they work, and how to prevent them. Learn to choose spam resistant e-mail addresses and get the most from your spam filter. Protect your computer from virus attacks with antivirus software and preventative measures. Also, find out how to avoid unknowingly installing spyware and adware, and block those pesky pop-up ads. The bonus CD-ROM features trial versions of many of the prevention tools covered in the book.”


Quoted from the book's introduction: "The Internet grew on the basis of trust. Trust that people would adhere to community standards and work together for the common good."

Unfortunately, the only true statement is that one can trust that someone, somewhere, will try to exploit any weakness for either bragging rights or financial gain. Equally unfortunate is that when beginners have problems, they face not only the considerable expense of repairs, but they are often bewildered by the technical language of computer professionals. Ken Feinstein has put together a book that I feel explains the ins and outs of general user security in such a way that is hard to find, but easy to appreciate.


The reader is led through four well organized categories of Internet annoyances. I was pleased to find the text simple without being insulting. Every chapter comes complete with step-by-step charts, definitions, diagrams, and screen shots that show exactly how to set up everything from various E-mail clients to Antivirus software.

Part one covers everything Spam, going from the basic definition to advanced techniques. Along the way, the reader is introduced to the basic concepts of establishing a Spam-proof email address, using filtering software, and creating custom filtering rules. There is also a small section that explains how to fight back against spammers.

Applications covered in part one:
  • Norton AntiSpam
  • McAfee SpamKiller
  • Built in spam blocking features of AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and Earthlink.
I was happy to see instructions for creation of advanced rule-sets for Spam filters. I think even the most technologically challenged will be able to create rules to keep sexually explicit material from reaching their inbox.

Part two covers viruses, starting with the basic definition , how they spread, and who writes them. The reader is shown how to identify infected emails, disable file sharing, setting up Antivirus software, as well as how to properly use it. The most important part of this section is how to identify and deal with an infection, something that most books seem to forget.

Applications covered in part two:
  • McAfee VirusScan
  • Trend Micro Internet Security
  • Norton Antivirus
Part three covers our arch-enemies, spyware and adware. Again, this section starts with basic definitions, and how to deal with malicious software that users are often conned into installing, and winds its way to removal. A nice bonus is the inclusion of links to highly regarded web-sites that offer free help.

Applications covered in part three:
  • Ad-aware
  • Spybot- Search and Destroy
  • ZoneAlarm
The final section covers Pop-Up advertisements, understanding them, and blocking them. This section is not as expansive, but there is only so much that can be said about pop-ups. However, the operation of Pop-Up blockers is well explained.

Applications covered in part four:
  • Google Toolbar
  • Yahoo Companion Toolbar
  • MSN Toolbar
  • Popup Killer
I love the screenshots. I love the step-by-step directions. I love the fact that Ken starts from installation of all of the applications listed, and continues through proper set up and updating. Coverage is thorough without being confusing.

Bonus Materials

The appendix is a 10-page outline of some of the security features found in Windows XP Service Pack 2, along with how to use these new features.

The bonus CD contains demo versions of the following software:
  • McAfee Security Center
  • Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security
  • Ad-aware
  • Spybot-Search & Destroy
  • ZoneAlarm
  • AdsGone Popup Killer


If you have the overwhelming urge to turn your $1800 system into an $1800 boat anchor, or if you have absolutely no clue how to go about securing your system, this book will get you pointed in the right direction. Although mostly for beginners, semi-skilled users should find enough information to help fill in the gaps. Everything is presented in such a way that the you should be completely comfortable following the recommendations.

At the risk of sounding redundant, all of the applications are covered thoroughly. The reader absolutely will be able to get any of these applications up and running, and running properly. I also believe that the reader will also have a much better understanding of the dark-side of the Internet.

As someone who spends a significant amount of time helping people rid their systems of malicious software (malware), I recognize the importance of clear, concise and logical instructions. Another important aspect of home computer security is presenting concepts and techniques in such a manner that the general user does not feel intimidated. This book does that. The reader should walk away a little more comfortable, and a lot more secure.

One sore spot that I have is there is little mention of free resources. AntiVir and AVG are wonderful free Anti-Virus applications that rate as well as any commercial applications that I have used. Sygate makes a free version of its firewall, and I have used it happily for many years. Also omitted were some other notable applications:
  • IE-Spyad
  • SpywareBlaster
  • Prevx Home Intrusion Detection System
I think it also should have been mentioned that adware and spyware are so sophisticated that the general user will be unable to remove them. Although CastleCops (formerly Computer Cops) and SpywareInfo are mentioned, there are many other sites that provide free help, including SFDC. I would encourage Mr. Feinstein to include a list in any future revisions. There is a veritable army of people ready, willing, and able to help.

Those two minor points aside, I think this book should be included with every new computer. I give the book a 9 out of 10.

This book receives a well deserved SFDC Rating of 9/10.

--Chad Clites
Security Forums Dot Com

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This review is copyright 2004 by the author and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
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