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Malicious Mobile Code by Roger A. Grimes

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Becoming Familiar with Your PC

To understand, detect, and prevent malicious mobile code, you must know what runs in the background on a Windows PC. You must understand what is normal for a PC, and the PCs under your control. You need to get a baseline understanding about what programs and services should be running in memory, what TCP/IP port numbers are used, and what programs and services should be automatically starting. If you take the time to understand these concepts and become familiar with what should be running on a PC before its attacked, you can detect the culprit sooner. In security circles, this process is known as intrusion detection. There are lots of security programs you can buy that automate these tasks (and we’ll talk about them in Chapter 14), but learning to do manual intrusion detection will benefit you even more.

Startup Programs

When Windows starts, even if you do not start a single application, dozens of programs, processes, and services are started each time your PC boots up. The operating system boot code loader is the first program to load something into memory. Next, as your operating system loads, it loads software drivers and services to manage the hardware and other software on your machine. In NT, the dots on the blue bootup screen each represent a different (device) driver or process starting. After the operating system has booted, it checks several startup areas, such as the AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, DOSSTART.BAT, WINSTART.BAT ...

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