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Are 32-bit computers a security risk?

Discussion in 'General Security' started by GreggIllinois, Nov 9, 2019 at 9:14 PM.

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  1. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    A friend is telling me that 32 bit computers are a security risk. I've read that the drivers of 32 bit computers might not be signed, but I don't know if that's a risk or how big of a risk. And my friend is telling me about "thrashing" and how slow the computer is, but it's really not slow for what we're using it for. Lastly, he says all the new software is 64 bit and there will be functionality problems staying with 32 bit.

    True, exaggeration or falsehoods? And the short version: is it okay to keep using a 32 bit computer? Thanks.
     
  2. bassfisher6522

    bassfisher6522

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    That's pretty much a loaded as well as a yes and no answer. The trend is moving to the 64 bit architecture. As far as s security risk, I'm not really buying that with out any facts to support your friends assumptions. There are down sides from a hardware stand point....specifically with the RAM. It's limited to max 4GB and only 3.5 GB of that is usable.

    Security starts at home....a AV, Malware and Spyware software. Then most importantly, safe browsing practices.
     
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  3. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    First Name:
    Frank
    Gregg:

    If your computer is able to load its Windows operating system and has a working internet connection, do the following in it.
    That information will help us determine why your friend is making those comments to you.

    Download and save the TSG System Information Utility (SysInfo.exe) file.
    After it's been downloaded and saved, double-click it to run it.
    Information about your computer will appear.
    Return here, then copy-and-paste its entire text in your reply.

    -------------------------------------------------------

    I don't know what apps your friend is referring to, but I haven't had a problem with finding the 32-bit version of the apps and drivers that I use.
    As stated in post #2, using a 32-bit Windows operating system does limit a computer to only 4 GB of RAM.
    As also stated in post #2, having safe browsing habits and proper maintenance with security-related apps is what helps the most to keep your computer safe.

    -------------------------------------------------------
     
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  4. britekguy

    britekguy

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    As has already been emphasized, it's not the bit-depth of a machine's architecture that has any significant part in how secure, or insecure it is. There is a 32-bit version of Windows 10, which would not exist were Microsoft to believe that continuing to support 32-bit hardware was a bad idea at this juncture.

    The above being said, 32-bit architecture is already a dinosaur and is way more than at the beginning of "on its way out." Given the age said equipment must be, the lifespan of computers, and the clear trend toward eventually dropping support for 32-bit altogether, it makes sense to get 64-bit machines when one can.

    Quietman7, a security expert who is an active contributor on Bleeping Computer, has written extensively on what you (any you) need to do to develop safe interaction habits with cyberspace. The following four are, in my opinion, must-reads:

    · Users Themselves Are The Most Substantial Weakness In The Security Chain (just that single message)

    · What you must understand regarding computer security (also just this single message)

    · Best Practices for Safe Computing

    · Reflections on Antivirus/Antimalware Testing & Comparisons
     
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  5. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    Thanks bassfisher. And, agreeing with you about ungrounded assumptions, I think there would be a lot more warnings out there (about 32 bit) if it was a huge problem.
     
  6. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    Thanks Frank. I've run that SysInfo.exe on my computer but I'm afraid to run it on somebody else's and in this case the 32 bit computers are somebody else's--I'm afraid I'm going to give away info that will make them vulnerable. I mean, I know you would never give me something that would allow that but still that's my concern. But I was just Googling around and some people think it's malware? https://www.file.net/process/sysinfo.exe.html)

    One question. The people I'm helping (with the 32 bit computers) are not very knowledgeable about computers (neither am I). When you say you haven't had a problem finding the drivers for a 32 bit computer, needing to find drivers would be necessitated when a program or app's functionality wasn't working, right? In other words, if all their stuff is working good they're not having any problems with their drivers, right?
     
  7. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    Thanks britekguy. I, personally,would never consider keeping a 32 bit computer unless it was just for storage or fun (eg. putting a Linux OS on it). And the only reason the people I'm helping are considering it is because they don't plan to be in business more than a year or two.

    Thanks for the links. A lot of good information there. I didn't know about turning off the autorun/autoplay feature and just turned it off on my computer.

    And the bit about layering of security is really helpful, too.
     
  8. bassfisher6522

    bassfisher6522

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    I've still have my very first computer which is a 32 bit. It's a HP Pavilion XG 843 that came with Windows Me. it still has all it's original hardware but I did upgrade the OS to XP when it came out. I just might pull that out and check it out.
     
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  9. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    Gregg:

    The TSG System Information Utility (SysInfo.exe) does NOT divulge any personal or sensitive information about a computer or its owner.
    It provides us with the Windows operating system and certain hardware information about a computer, and nothing else.

    This is an example of what it divulges in the Dell minitower that I'm on right now:
    Tech Support Guy System Info Utility version 1.0.0.4
    OS Version: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro, 64 bit
    Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4790 CPU @ 3.60GHz, Intel64 Family 6 Model 60 Stepping 3
    Processor Count: 8
    RAM: 32673 Mb
    Graphics Card: Intel(R) HD Graphics 4600, 1024 Mb
    Hard Drives: C: 111 GB (69 GB Free); E: 0 GB (0 GB Free); F: 118 GB (47 GB Free);
    Motherboard: Dell Inc., 0PC5F7
    Antivirus: Windows Defender, Enabled and Updated


    Do you see any sensitive or personal information in that log?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------
     
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  10. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    The TSG SysInfo Utility is not malware but I understand your concerns because the file name is often used by malware. You have to consider the source, the size of the file and the location when assessing whether something is malware or not. This one often gets flagged as a false positive (especially by AdwCleaner) and although I have brought it to their attention I believe they are hestitant to remove it because it might white-list the ones that really are malware.
     
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  11. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    LOL I had to Google Windows ME. I hear you. I'm just trying to stay somewhat up with the times. We're going to try to upgrade the 32 bit computer here. We'll see how it goes.
     
  12. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    Frank, I didn't mean to be insulting. I know that you and so many others here are so incredibly helpful. Just seeing that malware thing spooked me.
     
  13. GreggIllinois

    GreggIllinois Thread Starter

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    Hi Cookiegal. That makes sense. But how would file size help in identifying a supposedly innocuous file as malware?
     
  14. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    Known malware will have the size determined by the anti-virus vendors so if you see it flagged as a specific malware you can look that up and see how big the file is and where it's usually dropped.
     
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  15. britekguy

    britekguy

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    Also, although you should have no hesitation about the SysInfo hosted by TSG (as you said, consider the source), you also have the option of using Piriform's Speccy utility. It gives a lot more information than TSG's SysInfo does, but nothing personally identifiable (unless someone used their first name as their user name or machine name), but even then, there are millions of people sharing given names.

    You can see a Speccy Snapshot for my machine here: http://speccy.piriform.com/results/TqRVl6k1roMSDIo0wpCCZnk

    Should you ever wish to use Speccy to present detailed system information to an assistant, here are the step-by-step instructions, with screen shots:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Using Piriform’s Speccy to Collect Your Computer’s Hardware & Software Specifications

    1. Go to the Piriform Speccy Download Page and download the program.

    2. Run the installer you’ve just downloaded.

    a. Note: The Speccy free installer may now come with Avast and the Google Chrome browser bundled with it (or something else, what’s bundled has changed over time). Make sure that you UNCHECK the options to install any bundled software when you see the checkboxes during the Speccy install sequence. When you reach the end, uncheck the View Release Notes checkbox, then activate the Run Speccy button.

    You will then be presented the Speccy Main Window:

    [​IMG]


    3. From the File Menu, activate the “Publish Snapshot” item [or press ALT+F,B]:

    [​IMG]


    4. You will now be presented with the Publish Snapshot Dialog:

    [​IMG]

    You will, of course, activate the Yes button.


    5. Finally, you will be presented with the Snapshot URL Dialog:

    [​IMG]

    on which you will activate the Copy to Clipboard button so that you will have the snapshot web address to paste into your message.


    Note: If you want to save your system specs to a text file, at step 3 choose the Save as Text File option at step 3. This can be handy if you need to e-mail your specs.
     
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