Anti-Virus is NOT optional

Anti-Virus software is not an option for a healthy, happy computer and household.

Now that you know what a Zombie computer is (well you would if you read my last post) how do you go about protecting your computer from the evil script kiddies of the world? 

Side Note: “Script kiddies” is a menial nickname for people who create viruses. It’s a minor dig at the childish actions of people who have nothing better to do than sit in their mothers dark basement, eating cheetoes and trying to figure out how to take over the world or just empty your bank account… sorry… just venting my frustrations… you would too if you ever got a virus that wiped out all your data, or better yet, stole your identity… it happens, all too often.

So, how do you protect yourself?

  1. Be smart
  2. Have up to date anti-virus software
  3. Be smart

Sound familiar? Good, you are reading my posts. :)

Being smart is pretty self-explanatory, I hope.

Having good anti-virus is not so evident or easy. There are a lot of programs out there that promise to protect you from anything and everything computer or internet related. Take it all with a grain of salt. There is no silver bullet or perfect solution. There are some good products, both paid and free, that can help you to be smart. Some products will even give you help with infected websites by not letting you get to the site or by giving you warnings about the site. Whatever software you may decide to use, pay attention to it.

It may be warning you about your “signature update” or It may tell you about a problem it found on your computer. Follow the instructions to clean your system or to update the software. If you don’t listen to it, what is the point of having it?

Anti-virus software can come in different levels of protection. Some free software (AVG and Avast are both popular) only offer you basic virus protection. Not bad for free but it doesn’t really help you while browsing the internet. Usually the paid versions of the software will have “Internet Security” or “Parental Controls”. This can include stuff like Firewalls, spyware protection and spam blockers. Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee and Kaspersky are the most popular. All work. I won’t split hairs and tell you one of better than the other.

Personally I run the free version of AVG and I browse the internet with care. Not downloading stuff or playing games (game sites are notorious for being infected with viruses. Kid's game sites are the worst… well, except for the porn sites).

For parents with children that know more than you do about the computer, learn how to use Parental Controls in the software you buy. You can limit the time your little darling can cruise the net and you can definitely control where they go. Some even will give you a report about where the little demon has been browsing when you weren’t around.

I always start researching stuff by going to Google.com. Do a search for “Anti-virus parental controls” or “best anti-virus in the known universe”. You will get results from sites like ZDNet.com or geekgirls.com (nice site, wish I thought of it…).

I go back to #3 on my list. Be smart. Educate yourself about, not only what anti-virus software is but educate yourself about what it is your family does on the computer. How smart are they being?

A couple other good habits to have are:

* Turn off your computer at night. Leaving it on is like leaving your front door wide open while you're sleeping, especially if you don't have a Firewall as part of your anti-virus package. If you don't like the amount of time it takes to boot up your computer... get over it.

* Let Windows Update do it's job. When your computer asks to install updates, let it. Most updates are security related. When companies find holes in their software, they want to patch it. That is what Windows Update, Java updates and most other updates are for.

Next time, maybe I'll tell you how to speed up your computer by running software like Ccleaner and Defraging your hard drive.... ooooh... I've got goosebumps.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael Silva August 17, 2011 at 01:09 PM
I have been using the free version of Avast for the past couple of years and recommend it to all of my coaching clients and blogging students. Stephanie is right when she speaks about "being smart" when it comes to all things relating to your computer.
Bobby Diaz September 29, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Avast is a very good product, both free and paid versions. Another good free anti-virus is Microsoft's Security Essentials. Microsoft bought a great product and continue to update it to check for Viruses and some Malware. Anti-virus is not enough though, you need programs like Malwarebytes and Spybot to scan your machine a couple times a month. make sure not to install multiple Anti-virus programs at once! They will battle each other and slow down your machine to a horrible crawl! Anti-malware programs are fine, its the Anti-virus programs like Avast, MS Security Essentials, AVG, Symantec, McAfee, and Nod32 that will slow your machine down if you have multiple ones installed.
Stephanie Werbe November 04, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Hi Bobby, you are correct about the multiple anti-virus programs. Many people buy new software and don't uninstall the old and then wonder what happened to their PCs. I would be very careful with the Malwarebytes though. I normally only recommend that for people with a better understanding of what their computers are doing and how to fix them when they do get some nasties. I have seen Malwarebytes go wrong and cause even more issues than the virus. For the average home user a good anti-virus package should be enough and some will also include malware detection. The biggest issue I have seen lately is the Fake Anti-Virus software that looks like it comes from Microsoft. It has managed to deceive a few people I know who would normally not be suckered so easily. Being smart is still the best defense. Thanks for your comment! I love geeky people! :)


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