This is a topic that annoys me slightly as the Internet is full of misinformation as well as the odd bit of accurate information. The main problem seems to stem from biased opinions from sites that make comission from advertising 3rd party anti virus utilities.
For instance, I could easily recommend Norton or Kaspersky anti-virus software and provide you a link, then each time you click it our buy it I would earn money. Now you see why the internet is full of dodgy information!
What security and antivirus do I need?
The fact you are reading this and taking notice suggests you are likely to be a computer user who does not have a deep understanding of the topic and thus is unlikely to have any complicate requirements. For instance, if you don’t understand any of the following: NAT, VLAN, VoIP, Port Forwarding, Ports etc then its unlikley you need or want any of the paid-for security products. If however you have a requirement to configure any of these items then the information here within may not apply. For clarity, all of my home and work computers use the free software and setup recommended within – I do practice what I preach!
For firewall recommendation see here
A virus is simply a computer program that does naughty things. It can be installed through “bugs” in the software you use, or in the majority of cases, due to the user allowing it to run either by accident or being tricked. Once running a virus can do anything from recording your keystrokes, getting your passwords, or bombarding you with fake adverts etc.
Anti-virus software is a way of detecting and stopping these programs running.
Unfortunately no program can ever be 100% accurate and stop everything as new viruses come out all the time. Also, as users tend to get tricked, I have seen people allow programs to run because they didn’t think or thought they were something else, or were tricked. Despite the Anti-virus software giving them a warning!
The biggest thing to stop viruses is for you to think about what you click! 🙂
Apart from the paid-for software, there are free Antivirus products available which people recommend. My experience says people seem to err towards one or the other, though in effect both are pretty good. The two core 3rd party products are AVG and Avast.
However, as of 2010, Microsoft joined the party with their FREE product Security Essentials. From Windows 8 this will be included by default in Windows.
As dubious as I was, my research told me this is approved by numerous organisations and the reviews it has been receiving have been putting even paid products to shame. PC Pro, a professional-ish magazine, review it here and as you can see the review is fair. The areas where it scores low marks is down to it having very few features and options and “clever bits”.
However, for most users (like my parents!) who don’t know, want to know, or even care about anything and they just want it to work – then Microsoft Security Essentials is superb and free.
In my second place if you require something with a few more options to fiddle with I’d recommend AVG Free. Beware however as when you try and download the free version the company will try and get you to download a paid for version…
PC Pro “A” list which is constantly updated is here