How to Secure Windows 98, 98 SE, and ME
On July 11th, 2006, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows ME. No, really. No more security updates, no more technical support, nothing. You are now, officially, on your own.
Wait, there's more.
On October 10th, to celebrate the 107th anniversary of the start of the Boer War [or something like that,]
Microsoft will end all public assisted support for Windows XP Service Pack1 (SP1). After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide any incident support options or security updates for this retired service pack... [Source: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/support/endofsupport.mspx]
Fortunately, if you have Windows XP, Microsoft isn't completely abandoning you. All you have to do is upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2. If you have been religious with your Windows Updates, you probably upgraded to Service Pack 2 back in early 2005. If you haven't upgraded, though, or if you just want to double-check that you truly are running Windows XP Service Pack 2, check out my NetSquirrel.com How-To article titled "How to Safely Upgrade to Windows XP SP2" at http://netsquirrel.com/articles/xpsp2.html
If you have Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, or Windows ME, and don't want to upgrade to Windows XP, things are a little more complicated. To protect your legacy operating system from future exploits, I STRONGLY recommend that you:
1. Stop using Internet Explorer and switch to an alternative web browser such as Mozilla Firefox
Of course, I've been saying this since late 2004 and the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a branch of the US Department of Homeland Security, started recommending that you "use a different web browser" back in mid-2004 .
If you still have Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, or Windows ME, using Internet Explorer is the surest way to infect your newly orphaned computer with viruses, spyware, and malware. STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER and start using Firefox instead. You don't need to uninstall Internet Explorer -- in fact, you can't. Just stop using it.
2. Get a firewall
I've also been saying this since 2004. I fact, if you read that article, you'll get a pretty good idea of why you need both a hardware and a software firewall. And if you have a relatively fast connection, check out http://movielibrary.lynda.com/html/modPage.asp?ID=190
Yeah, yeah ... this is shameless self-promotion for my "Computer Privacy & Security Essential Training" movies at Lynda.com. But the first four movies in chapter two are absolutely free and show you what firewalls are, how they work, and even how to set up and secure a [non-wireless] hardware firewall/router.
What sort of hardware firewall should you get? I recommend getting a US$75 - $100 router made by Linksys, D-Link, or Netgear. You can find routers on the shelves of every major big box retailer including Wal-Mart and Office Depot.
As for a software firewall, check out http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/protect/windows9x/firewall.mspx. This is a page Microsoft recently created that has links to software firewall manufacturers that still support older versions of Windows.
3. Get a good, up-to-date antivirus program
This is something I've been saying forever, but check out http://tinyurl.com/h56fe for something I wrote SEVEN YEARS AGO about the need for a good antivirus program.
Which antivirus program should you get? Well, if you already have an antivirus program, it’s probably really outdated and not protecting your computer as well as it should. I recommend uninstalling your old antivirus program [using Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel] and installing a brand new antivirus program specifically designed for your older version of Windows.
I am a HUGE fan of a US$40 antivirus program called "Eset NOD32 for Windows 95/98/ME." You can download it at http://www.eset.com/download/index.php. Make sure to download the Windows 95/98/ME version, not the one for NT/2000/XP.
If you don't want to pay for an antivirus program, check out the free version of AVG antivirus at http://free.grisoft.com/doc/2/lng/us/tpl/v5. It also runs on older versions of Windows.
Do those three things, and you should be able to keep using Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, or Windows ME for years to come.
Copyright © 2014 Patrick Crispen. Contents licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. All other rights reserved.