What a super site this is! Thankyou so very much!
I came across your site while Googling desperately for security information (since I must switch over very soon to Windows XP in order to file some official documents ...)
My online setup for the past six years has been Tinycore Linux with an Opera browser. It's run from live cd teamed with a read-only usb - sort of an e-bicycle in a world of e-cars - and well suited to slower connections. Even on 56k modems one can travel quite fast after disabling the loading of slower content (images, scripts and styles etc.) through Opera's "User Mode".
The awareness that with this setup each online run starts out clean and that all malware dies at shutdown is extremely reassuring, given that my 15-year-old Thinkpads came from uncertain sources. (Though there remains the possibility of a hardware keylogger which I aim to confuse by "cut-paste-and-finagle" of passwords). The setup can make for some quite daring surfing...!
In case you're wondering, my paranoia about malware dates from watching the browser of my beloved Win 95 Dell Latitude machine go down in a sea of crumbling red and gold flames (I kid you not - it was spectacular!) It turned out the cause was an early "proof of concept" of an iframebo virus that later became a major data thief. On that machine's hard-drive was a database of my family's financial accounts, and the realization of how vulnerable it had been and how close we had come to disaster has led me to "air-gap" all such items in future. Time-consuming, but reassuring....
But then: "If the threat IS real, it's not paraonoia..."
I look forward very much to learning from you. Many thanks.