May 1, 2009

PC Security - Part Deux

I figured I might as well bring this up since the "Swine Flu" story has been all over the news lately.

And since I literally spent 2 days trying to avoid a OS reinstall earlier this month, only to finally figure out our Seagate FreeAgent hard drive contained 4 Trojan worms on it.......I thought yeah, now's a good time.     (the virus' were copying themselves over to the C drive after each of the last 2 OSRI's.     (operating system reinstalls)

Anyway, I usually get asked one of two questions whenever someone I know has the same issue on their rig. mes up. Either, "What's the best FREE anti-virus program?", or something along the lines of, "How'd that thing-ah-mah-jig get in there to begin with?"

And it's almost always the same reasons. They either got careless with a p2p app such as Limewire, Utorrent, etc. OR Their "trial" version of Norton/McAfee expired, but since they still see the icon in the task bar, they think they're still being protected. Sound familiar?

So, after much research, review reading, and trial and error, I thought I'd share my thoughts of what works, what doesn't and most importantly......what I'm using now.

Basically it comes down to 4 main things. (depending on your level of paranoia)

  • Anti-Virus Software that doesn't bog down your system, auto updates DAILY, and has a 93% or higher success rate.
  • Anti-Spyware software that offers "real time" protection.
  • An almost inpenatrable software firewall running at all times alongside a router/NAT/hub.
  • Keep Windows Update ENABLED.   (change setting to "notify me/don't download")  *must be performed in Internet Explorer only*
I've mentioned File Hippo before and I still swear by it. Think CNet's, but without all the "shareware/trial" apps. 97% of the apps on file hippo are OPEN SOURCE or free for non-commercial use.

Here's a good trio of tools that should offer you all the points mentioned above.

(Threatfire is the only one not on Filehippo, you'll have to go directly to the company's site to download)

You can also install and run other Anti-Spyware tools such as SpywareBlaster, Windows Defender, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Highly recommended), Spybot, etc.

I forgot to cover a few last areas of importance.     Often times when XP/Vista is really infected,  it's highly recommended that you just REINSTALL WINDOWS completely.     You'll most likely have to call up your PC vendor and order a "Restore disc".         Most of the bigger vendors now charge for this disc, which is absurd.       But we ordered ours from Gateway last year free of charge.     Remember to always FORMAT the drive completely as opposed to installing over the still existing issues.     You'll need some form of backup of course.      I'd suggest buying an EXTERNAL hard drive solely for this purpose.    But you could always choose to burn to CD,  or use a 3rd party backup system.        But trust me....Seagate or Western Digital both have awesome price point ratio's at the moment.       Say $80-90 for approx 250-320GB of space.    Depending on the amount of files you have,  even a decent size flash/thumb drive would work.

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