Computer Courage Newsletter – March 2008 – Antivirus and Antispyware – Our Recommended Solutions

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One of the most common questions we get from our users is about antivirus.Just about everyone today is frustrated with their security software.Some antivirus solutions slow down the computer too much, or others leave out important areas of protection.Today we’re going to pass some advice, explanations, and a few simple recommendations.Remember, if you want personalized help in your home or office, just contact us.

What is a virus?What is spyware?
A virus is a piece of malicious software that has two goals: to damage your data or system and to replicate itself.Spyware (aka adware or malware) is software that gets into your computer for profit.It makes money for its owner by sending spam, tracking website usage, displaying ads, or even harvesting your data.Viruses and spyware tend to spread themselves through email attachments, malicious websites, and sometimes through flash memory drives.While viruses are usually written by hackers with purely malicious intentions, spyware can come from anyone from hackers to honest software vendors.

How Do I Protect My System?
If you are a Mac user you can skip this discussion.As of now, there are essentially no viruses or spyware for Macs.Computer Courage recommends that you run your Mac system without any special protection.For the rest of us, let’s talk protection.

Antivirus software is a necessity on any Windows machine.While your chances of getting a virus may be significantly lower than the security companies would have you think, you simply can’t risk a costly infection which cause data loss, system outage, embarrassing emails, or pesky popups.To protect against spyware, you’ll either need to get a separate tool or, ideally, find software that protects against both.We’ll review several solutions in this article.Finally, security companies are pushing “internet security” software, which we think is unnecessary – just get antivirus and antispyware protection.

Norton & McAfee – Heavy Is The Head That Wears the Crown
The world of antivirus is dominated by Norton and McAfee.This is good for them, and bad for you. The truth is that these products are ineffective, bloated, and far behind the times. These systems, in their various incarnations, tend to commit the following sins:
•They slow down your system.
•They fail to incorporate antispyware.
•They nag and confuse the user too often.
•They fail to protect against enough viruses.
•They add in unnecessary extras like firewalls, toolbars, etc.
•They are overpriced.

If you have one of these systems, we strongly recommend you remove it and replace it with one of the solutions listed below.Even if you have time left on your subscription, you are missing out on the full potential of your computer and exposing yourself to security risks.Either go for it yourself or give us a call and we’ll take care of it for you.

Two Respectable, Free Solutions
Several companies have made an attempt to compete with Norton and McAfee by offering free antivirus products for home users.They offer more full featured versions (see below) on a paid subscription basis, and don’t offer free solutions to business users.This technique has proven quite effective, especially for one company, and you can take advantage immediately.

One quick and dirty solution is to scan your computer with Trend Micro’s HouseCall service.This is a web-based antivirus and antispyware solution found on their website at www.antivirus.com. It will scan and fix problems whenever you run it, but it doesn’t protect you around the clock, so it’s only a temporary solution.It’s also a good augmentation to your permanent solution.

AVG Free Edition is a fantastic product.It provided rock solid virus protection, is lightweight (doesn’t slow your computer down), is easy to use, and is absolutely free.The one drawback to AVG Free is that it doesn’t provide spyware protection.For that, you’ll either have to pay (see below) or add on one or two free spyware products.We recommend the combination of Spybot Search & Destroy with AdAware.These antispyware products are manual scanners, meaning you have to run them once or twice a month, but the price is right and the protection is reasonable.You can download all of them from download.com.

Our Recommended Solution – Easy, Affordable, Secure
For our money, the best solution is one that combines everything we’ve discussed into one package. We want effective and lightweight antivirus, automatic antispyware, no nag screens, a simple interface, no useless extras, and a decent price.We’ve found all of that in AVG Antivirus (the big brother of AVG Free Edition.)AVG Antivirus stands alone at the ideal intersection of speed, power, and ease of use.You can purchase the software right off their website and simply stop worrying about viruses, spyware, or annoying popups from your security suite.Note: AVG also sells an Internet Security suite, but don’t bother with it – the combination of AVG Antivirus and the Windows Firewall already built into your system is more than enough protection.

AVG Antivirus
Click the logo above to purchase AVG now.

Once you are protected, take the extra step and be careful with your clicking!Don’t visit suspicious websites, don’t open suspicious email attachments, never give your personal information in response to an email.When you install software, look out for “piggybacking” – toolbars and other software that gets installed with your software by default.

Get Properly Protected Today
If you are running Norton or McAfee, it’s time to switch today.You’ll get new life out of your system and better protection.If you are running another antivirus solution, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you figure out what’s right for you.Business users – we can set up managed security solutions for small and medium business.Remember, we can come to your home or office and take care of this for you, and we’re just a phone call away.

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