Sunday, July 3, 2011

Anti-Virus Software–Second Layer of Defense

You will probably notice I have not posted in a while!  Summer time is here!  Plus for the last two weeks I have been having trouble with my desktop with weird errors and crashing.  I finally found (after the power supply exploded!) that my liquid cooling system was leaking back down behind the CPU.  Proves even the computer guy has trouble with his computers!

Now on to what this post is really about, another layer of defense – the Anti-Virus software.  I would guess that most if not all of you have heard of anti-virus software, in fact if you bought a computer recently, it probably came with anti-virus software pre-installed.  If your computer did come with anti-virus software make sure that it is active!  Most of the time the anti-virus software is just a 90 day trial (give or take) which expires and needs to be renewed.

It is important note, that some people claim that they do not need anti-virus software.  They claim they know what they are doing and are safe enough online to not need anti-virus software.  There is some truth to this as long as you browse the web safely you should not have to worry about viruses.  However, the key here is browsing the web safely, and lets face it, the web is not safe to browse!  Especially if an perfectly legitimate website is infected with a virus.  So forget playing with “fire,” just use an anti-virus program; and they do not necessarily have to cost you anything either!

So, what does anti-virus software do?  Two things mainly, actively monitors your system for intrusion attempts and scans your system for viruses.  These threats could come from downloaded files, web pages, email, or running programs.  As for the scanning part, the anti-virus program with scan every file attempting to find any viruses that match based on the virus definitions that are installed.

With anti-virus programs, it is important that you keep them updated!  This is possibly the most critical and yet often overlooked part of anti-virus software.  Anti-virus software scans your system based on definitions and with viruses constantly being created it is important that theses definitions be up-to-date!  Most anti-virus programs automatically install viruses definitions, if your current anti-virus program does not; then I would suggest upgrading!

What do I recommend for anti-virus software?  That depends on what you are looking for, but the two programs I usually recommend are Norton Anti-Virus (Paid – www.symantec.com) and Microsoft Security Essentials (Free - http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/mse.aspx).  I personally use Microsoft Security Essentials ( the price is right!) and while it does not do anything fancy, it does get the job done, just a plain ole anti-virus program.

As an additional note, some of you have probably heard of anti-spyware or anti-malware programs as well.  These programs work very similar to the way an anti-virus program works; however, they focus specifically on spyware/malware infections.  Most anti-virus programs include anti-spyware and anti-malware built into them.  Both of the programs I suggested above include anti-spyware/anti-malware.

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