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About the Security WizardOn this page will find details of how this security wizard project evolved and some details on how it works.Background to the wizardHere at Gizmos Freeware users ask us everyday what security products they should be using on their PCs.It's a fair question and one that is surprisingly difficult to answer.That's because individual users vary greatly in their technical knowledge so security product recommendations have to be appropriate to the user’s skill. There is no point for example, in recommending a high-performance firewall to a non-technical Windows user as they would be confused and annoyed by the dozens of pop-up confirmation windows generated by advanced firewalls.The user's security risk level is another variable. Some people only use their PC to check e-mail and do Google searches while others will surf to the nether regions of the web and download pirated software programs. These users have very different security software needs.A final difficulty in providing advice is that there are now many different versions of Windows in use. Many of today's security products won't work on Windows 9X. Similarly many won't work on 64 bit versions of Windows Vista or Windows 7.The idea behind the wizard was to ask the user a series of simple questions that would allow us to determine the version of Windows they were using, their level of security risk and their general level of experience and technical knowledge. The wizard would then use this information to generate customised set of recommendations tailored to the user's specific requirements.When we started this project we realised we would have to deal with many dozens of different combinations of the key variables and generate specific recommendations for each. We knew this would be a daunting task but one that simply had to be addressed.Right from the start we agreed that all recommendations would make use of free software rather than commercial software. That's not only because our website concentrates on free software but also was recognition of the fact that the appropriate combinations of free security software can provide as much protection to the user's PC as commercial software. Who is the wizard for?The wizard is targeted towards average users rather than computer experts. That's because experts have the knowledge and resources to make their own security product selections while average users do not."Average users" as a class are defined here not by their computer experience but as those having a limited technical knowledge of computers. This includes many long-time PC users who have no interest in the technical side of computing.It also includes students, first-time users, self-professed Luddites and anyone whose main interest in PCs is just a tool for doing a job. It is this group that has the greatest difficulty in selecting appropriate security products as the selection process necessarily involves a number of complex technical issues.It is the function of the wizard to simplify security product selection by asking users a series of non-technical questions and then using this information to suggest the most appropriate security solutions.How the wizard worksThe security wizard asks you three different sets of questions in order to determine:1. The operating system you use2. Your level of PC technical skills3. Your level of security riskDetermining your operating system is straightforward, but grading your technical skills and security risk is more complex.PC Technical SkillsThe wizard needs to have a knowledge of your PC technical skills in order to recommend products that you are capable of using.For example there is no point recommending a complex firewall or HIPS to a beginner as they would not be capable of properly configuring or using such a product.The questions the wizard asks are directly related to the skills needed to use security software. We are not trying to measure your general technical competence and knowledge, but rather the particular set of skills that directly relate to security software usage. Here are the questions we ask in order to derive an overall score for PC technical skill level.1. Do you know how to stop a program running automatically at Windows startup?: a. No b. I could do this with guidance c. Yes, I know how to start or stop programs running automatically2. Do you know how to use the Windows Task Manager to kill a process?: a. No b. I could do this with guidance c.I know how to do this 3. Do you know how to edit the Windows Registry?: a. No I don't b. I could do this with guidance c. I know how to do this 4. Do you know how to back up Windows using drive imaging?a. No b. YesYour responses to these questions are the used to create a PC technical skill index. The wizard generates different security recommendations depending on your skill index So for example the products recommended for non-technical users are less demanding on the user's skill than those generated for technical users.Security RiskSome users take very little risk during their computer activities, while others engage in highly risky behavior. Users with a high risk profile need more robust protection for their PC than low risk users. The security wizard attempts to determine your level of risk by asking a series of questions. The questions are:1. Have you ever downloaded free games or screensavers?a. No b. Yes2. Have you ever visited a crack or warez site?a. No b. Yes3. Do you download software using BitTorrent?a. No b. Yes4. Do you use software given to you by friends?a. No b. YesYour responses to these questions are then used to create a PC security risk index. Based on your risk index the wizard generates security recommendations appropriate to your risk. The suggestions for high-risk users generally involve more robust and complex products than those suggested for lower-risk users. However the final recommendations also depend on user skill level as there is no point recommending products a user cannot effectively use.The development teamThe security wizard was developed by a special project team at Gizmos Freeware. Like everyone else at Gizmo's Freeware, all the team members are unpaid volunteers who give their time generously in support of the idea of free software. Core team membersAntti KoponenRik MayellGizmo RichardsJonathan TangOther contributorsJoe BennettMarc DarkinPeter HerbertFabrizio LodiChris PriceJoe ThompsonThis site gratefully acknowledges the contribution of these individuals to this project and to the Internet community.Acknowledgement to Wilders Security ForumsWe would like to thank all the users from Wilders Security Forums who helped refine the recommendations of the wizard through participation in a closed beta test . The final version of the wizard is all the better for their suggestions.We would also like to thank Mike Farrell, the co-owner of the Wilders Forums, for his kind permission to allow us to invite his forum members to participate in the beta testing.
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