Happy Trails Computer Club

home > security > overview > defense tools  
Defense Tools

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 (In fact, the signatures on brand new computers are often months out of date.)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 activated them.

Firewalls  >>

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.

Security suites

Suites are just several related programs that are "bundled" together -- usually at considerable savings. If you already have a good antivirus program, a suite may not offer a real bargain. Norton and McAfee both offer nice security suites.

Free Internet security tools:

http://www.wilders.org/free_tools.htm
http://netsecurity.about.com/library/blfreetools.htm

Resources

Security companies and more.
"You never met a tool you didn't like". -- Wife of Curmudgeon
club stuff
help
topics
computers
software
hardware
internet
security
overview
   lost? > index
attack vectors
   attachments
   deception
   email
   hackers
   web sites
   worms
defenses
   #  2  3
safe settings
   system
   browser
   email client
safe practices
   patching
   email
   attachments
   surfing
   file handling
defense tools
   malware
   antivirus
   anti-trojan
   firewalls
defense tests
privacy
resources