Before you buy a bunch of defense tools
Tools are only part of the security solution.
First you need a strategy for protecting
yourself and your computer online. Then you'll
know what you're doing, and you'll know which
tools to get. If you just get some tools,
you won't have the strategy. The strategy
is more important than the tools. If you
haven't been there yet, read more about the
threats and the defense strategies you can use. Then come back here.
Antivirus programs >>
These programs have been around almost as
long as computer viruses -- long before the
Internet came along. The original viruses
were carried by floppy disks. Viruses (and
most worms) are fairly "dumb" (compared
to Trojans). Viruses are usually limited
to a few malicious deeds, but they can be
very damaging nevertheless. Antivirus programs
work fairly well against the current breed
of viruses. They're effective against some
worms too. (Your best defense against all
of these critters is your own wits though.)
Many people believe that their Antivirus
program is all they need to protect them
online. Some of these same people often don't
even know that they need to keep their antivirus
signatures up to date. Soon they have virtually no
antivirus protection. (In fact, the signatures
on brand new computers are often months out
of date.) Antivirus programs do not protect
against most Trojans and they do nothing to protect against hackers. People who simply rely on their "Norton"
or their "McAfee" to keep them
safe online are tragically uninformed. They
needed to start with a defense strategy. Then they'd know what they need to do.
The "Antivirus" page provides more information on
antivirus programs. I use Norton because
it came on my computer, and because it consistently
rates high in the reviews. I prescreen my
email, and delete a lot of the junk on the
server. So I don't get many virus warnings
-- maybe one or two a year. But I'm always
happy they were intercepted before I inadvertently
The purpose of a firewall is to keep evil
hackers out of your computer. They won't stop a
virus worm, or Trojan from getting in. They may not stop a Trojan
from getting out either. If you've never
used a firewall before, you probably should
start with one that's easy to set up. The
heavy duty ones require a good understanding
of how things work on the Internet. There
are many firewalls to choose from -- even some free ones.
Anti-malware programs >>
There's a whole menagerie of malware that
you should have protection against. An antivirus
program just doesn't cover the bases an longer,
although some antivirus firms are making
noises about doing it. It's not clear yet
just how broad their coverage will be. Besides
viruses and worms, there's spyware, adware,
foistware, Trojan-horses, hijackers, dialers
and more to worry about. There are now some
good anti-malware programs to choose from.
Anti-Trojan programs >>
Some really vicious Trojans have been spotted
on the horizon. Anti-malware programs are
good protection against most Trojans, but
this new strain requires something more robust.
I recommend Trojan Hunter, but take your pick.
Suites are just several related
that are "bundled"
usually at considerable savings.
If you already
have a good antivirus program,
a suite may
not offer a real bargain. Norton
both offer nice security suites.
Free Internet security tools:
Security companies and more.