Apr 22 2010

Ten top tips for avoiding malware on your computer

Category: Uncategorizedcomparem @ 12:38 am

1. Only download software from trusted websites, like CNet and Download.com

2. Make sure you always have virus protection software installed on your computer, as well as a firewall

3. Install and regularly run anti-spyware and adware programs. Many of these can be downloaded for free, like Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy

4. Use common sense when deciding which websites to browse. Many adult websites and Peer to Peer (P2P) sites, for instance, are loaded with pop-ups containing malware

5. Avoid clicking on pop-up ads, particularly on websites that might be considered untrustworthy. Better still, use a pop-up blocker as it will do this for you

6. Be cautious when installing shareware. A lot of shareware these days has spyware/adaware bundled in the program

7. Make sure your email program has a spam filter. Spam emails frequently contain malware, so be extra careful if you decide to open them

8. Ensure you monitor your startup programs. Delete unknown processes from the list. Go to run, type msconfig, and run the startup editor

9. Update your anti-virus protection software regularly. It’s best to install a virus protection package that automatically updates with new definitions to combat the latest threats

10. Try to keep abreast of the latest developments in virus protection software, including both antivirus product updates and newly identified malware threats

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Apr 18 2010

Paid or free antivirus – which is better?

Category: Malware Protectioncomparem @ 11:25 am

With most things in life you get what you pay for. However, with virus protection software that isn’t always necessarily the case. Because of the universal need to protect networks (not just home PCs, but corporate and government IT environments and infrastructures too) it has been too much of a risk to assume that all users will pay for antivirus protection. And because the stakes for leaving these networks unprotected can be so high, free antivirus protection has always been available for those users that haven’t wanted to pay for it.

As a consequence of this it has often been assumed that the free versions of virus protection software are generally inferior to the paid versions, but this is not always the case. In this post we look at a number of the pros and cons of each, and try to draw some conclusions from the findings.

Free Antivirus Protection

Pros:

  • it’s free!
  • generally lighter on system resources
  • can be as effective or even more effective at detecting malware than many paid versions
  • mixing and matching means you can choose the best component in each category
  • generally a lower rate of “false positives” detected

Cons:

  • you need to know what you’re looking for. Requires a certain level of knowledge from the user
  • no customer support
  • products don’t come in packages or suites, so virus protection software, spyware/adware protection and firewalls need to be chosen and installed independently of each other
  • some free Antivirus software can in itself be malware, so you should only go for known brands
  • generally no regular updates

Paid Antivirus Protection

Pros:

  • a trusted brand name
  • 24/7 support (generally)
  • packaged ’suites’ of software, which include firewall, antivirus, adware protection, spyware protection, keylogging protection, and protection from Trojans, dialers and rootkits
  • regular updates
  • thorough third party testing and reviews

Cons:

  • integrated suites usually make a compromise on one or more of the components
  • malware detection generally no better than with free protection
  • can be expensive
  • generally a high rate of “false positives” detected

So the results – probably unsurprisingly – are somewhat inconclusive. Many users prefer the peace of mind that paid antivirus software provides, while others are happy going with free component-based protection. The key facet that hasn’t been mentioned here, however, is user behaviour. Computer use as a whole requires an amount of common sense, and of course there are places on the Internet that are higher risk than others, regardless of the type of virus protection software you have installed.

Anyway, below is a list of some of our recommended anti-malware products (paid and free):

Recommended free antivirus software:
- AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
- Avira AntiVir Personal Edition
- Avast! Free Antivirus
- Comodo AntiVirus
- PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition
- Rising Antivirus Free Edition 2010

Recommended free Firewall software:
- Zonealarm
- Comodo Internet Security
- Online Armor
- PC Tools Firewall Plus

Recommended free spyware/adware protection software:
- Spybot Search and Destroy
- Lavasoft Ad-Aware

Recommended paid malware protection software packages:
- Kaspersky AntiVirus 2010
- Norton Internet Security 2010
- Trend Micro Internet Security Pro

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Apr 17 2010

Do We Still Need Virus Protection?

Category: Malware Protectioncomparem @ 5:38 pm

Despite the recent arrival of Windows 7, which some users were heralding as the Operating System to finally put an end to virus attacks, there is without question still a need for antivirus protection on our PCs.

In a test carried out in October last year, the web security company Sophos found that  Windows 7 was vulnerable to 8 out of 10 viruses that they passed into it with the User Account Control (UAC) turned off. Turning the User Account Control on dropped the tally to 7 out of 10.

What is clear is that on a Windows 7 system with UAC set to the default and no antivirus, you’re still at risk from viruses and malware. The number of machines that still have no form of antivirus software installed is staggering, and with the range of free virus protection software out on the market there is really no excuse. There is the often-heard complaint that antiviruses cause more harm than good, and that the antivirus companies are always playing catch-up with the malware writers anyway.

However, we would argue that the benefits of virus protection software still outweight the potential downsides. After all, losing all the files on your PC and having your financial data intercepted is surely worse than the slow running of your Operating System?

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