Today I got a call from a friend in distress over a call he had received about his computer “letting in viruses” he wanted to know If it sounded like a genuine call. To be honest, any one calling out of the blue about the security of your computer unless your in a security management contract of some kind is most likely cheap tactics to scare you into buying expensive products. With them suggesting a 1 to 8 year license it sounds like this one definitely fell into the category.
Lets take a look at the key products to secure your PC with.
Lets start with your anti virus software. These days the definition of virus and spy-ware or malware has became very vague indeed. Many programs that would traditionally be considered an anti virus program can detect more than just Viruses. Software designed to do serious harm to your computer. This is where avast comes in. This is one of the best free anti virus programs on the market.
The free package just gives you a basic virus scanner but upgrades to premium packages which offer you services such as anti-spam mail filtering and protection from phishing – sites and emails that are designed to fool you into thinking you are giving details to a legitimate organization such as a bank.
I mentioned already about Spyware and Malware and there is two nice programs that handle it quite nicely. In fact, I am running a live system scan with one right now.
The people at Lavasoft have put together a nice program called Ad-Aware, the free edition lacks the ability to run in real time so you need to remember to manually update and scan your system with this one, or upgrade and get the automatic and real time system included. Continuing to work with the free edition might be best however, because of our next player in this market. They have problems co-existing it seems. But run them at separate times and you’ll be left with a nice clean system.
We could not have any form of protection article and not at least mention Spybot, this fast little tool supports the ability to immunize your system to reduce the likelihood of problems in the future. This is my personal favourite. As mentioned before, this and Ad-Aware seem to dislike each other, they are both fine tools and used together increases the protection but you must only run one at a time or you’ll end up with conflicts between the two, when you start Spybot with Ad-Aware installed it will warn you of the conflict.
Firewalls are an important aspect to the security of your computer although a software firewall can be no match to using a hardware network based firewall which is generally what I rely upon and use software firewalls more as a warning in the event of a possible breach it will flag up to say there is an intrusion. But for completeness sake under a new brand, GFI, I have used the firewall software since it was first released two owners previously. The personal firewall software as their own description says, does not slow down the computer it is indeed rather speedy and I have enjoyed the flexibility of it. Like the previous applications a free edition is available.
How do they compare against Norton and McAfee?
In my experience both Norton and McAfee have ran extremely slowly on computers and generally cause more problems than they actually prevent. These disturbingly come with PCs provided by a great number of major retailers , and this often fools people into thinking they have adequate security. This is often not the case, many of these users do not realise that this kind of software needs to be updated frequently, and the packages included on new pcs are often only 30 day trials so a month down the line they stop working and offer no protection at all. You should avoid using them if you want your PC to be secure.
You might also want to consider switching away from Windows whilst your at it, but that’s another story perhaps one for another time, a quick guide to switching to Linux for newbies. Look out for that one!