As more and more of our lives move online, protecting our personal information becomes ever more important and ever more of a challenge. Additionally, there are so many different kinds of security risks these days including viruses, malware, spyware, phishing scams, denial of service attacks and many more. And it’s only going to get worse as hackers and botnets become more sophisticated.
Fortunately, there are many great security products on the market right now. Personally, I rely on a mixture of security software to keep my computers safe. Each entry on the list performs a different function or blocks a different type of threat, and I’ll attempt to explain why each item is important.
Antivirus Software: AVG Antivirus
I have used and recommended AVG antivirus for home and corporate users for several years now. I look for several things when selecting an antivirus solution and the free version of AVG’s software for home users hits every item on my list. First, it doesn’t slow my computer down unreasonably. Any software that is running is going to slow down a computer some and antivirus software is notoriously bad about this as it has to scan every file that is opened on a pc to make sure it’s a safe file. AVG does a good job of scanning the computer but leaving enough processing power that I can continue to work. Second, AVG keeps itself updated. As new viruses are released into the wild on an hourly basis, an antivirus software is only able to protect against the viruses that it knows about. AVG is really good about updating itself automatically with the latest virus database.
AntiSpyware software: Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot is great software for analyzing every file on your computer and detecting unwanted adware of spyware. It’s also very good at preventing spyware from being added to your PC. We’ve probably all seen computers infested with spyware or adware – they usually get internet windows pop up on their screens either at random times or every time you do an internet search. They make computing miserable. It comes with a large database of known spyware or adware and the makers keep it up to date with the latest threats.
AntiMalware software: Malware Bytes
I cannot count the number of times this program has saved me from having to wipe and reload a computer. Malware is a general term for malicious software including viruses, Trojans or worms. Periodically, I’ll come across a computer infected with so much malware that is unuseable. In some cases, the computer will boot and work for 5 or 10 minutes and then come to a crawl where the Start button will not even work. In those cases, I turn to MalwareBytes to remove the bad software. It usually is able to resuscitate a compromised PC. You can also install malware bytes on a clean computer and it will run as a background process and prevent malicious software from being installed.
Microsoft Windows Defender
Windows defender is very similar to Spybot or malware bytes. It is a great free product that runs in the background and protects your PC from programs that cause Pop-ups, slowdowns or other security threats.
Firewall software: Comodo Firewall Pro
This software is essential for laptops that connect to public wireless networks. Every time your computer connects to the internet, it is at risk. I read an article years ago that said that a computer with an internet connection and no security software can be compromised in 4 minutes. Most offices or home networks have a router that have a built in firewall that is sufficient to protect your computers. However, if you take your computer away from that firewall, Comodo can fill the void. It scans every packet that comes in to your computer from the internet and blocks the undesirable stuff. It’s also really easy to install, which is a major plus for most users.
AVG antivirus (http://free.avg.com)
Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html)
Malware Bytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org)
Microsoft Windows Defender (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/defender/default.mspx)
Comodo Firewall Pro (http://personalfirewall.comodo.com/)