Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Net Security 1: Antivirus Softwares

We are part of the digital age. There is no escaping this truth. A farmer working in the middle of his fields is only a text or a call away. A person anywhere in the world is also a  mere FB chat or message away, or a Skype call away. The divide between individuals grows smaller with time and there is no end in sight to the various technological breakthroughs that fuel human advancement in this particular area. 

Cellphones are necessities now, an integral part of life and personal computers while on the decline have precipitated the deluge of digital devices that connect us through virtual networks. We now live most of our lives inside the digital realm and I don't think it will change anytime soon.

Yet with this undertaking, like with every endeavor, there is danger present and sadly it is the area where most of us are painfully ignorant. We have taken the web and the virtual domain without any thought about security at all. Most of us have no concept of digital identity or privacy and although majority will go on with their lives without ever suffering the consequences, we need to know certain things in order to prevent any of the direst consequences.

For this reason, I am writing these series of digital advice for you, my readers. (and feel free to repost this blog post anywhere)

The first thing we tackle is about general antivirus protection.

I come from a country where digital rights are skirted with reckless abandon. I must admit that most of the software I once used were pirated. While the hardware elements were all authentic, the software components were not. I do apologize for it but considering the high cost of original software and the economic reality of my place of origin, I had no choice. I am not proud of it but it is a way of life on that side of the world. It had taught me lots of things, which I’ll take with me for life.

First off, if you can afford it, buy original software. Most pirated stuff carry Trojans and worms which hijack your personal information and settings from inside and the fact that you use altered software leaves you open to cyberattacks. But as I’ve said, the costs are prohibitive. If you absolutely must, find your reviews on the net and refrain from ever choosing those who offer beyond the initial package (for example, Windows 7 black edition: there is no black edition, it should be a red flag already if you get my gist). 

But if there is one thing I absolutely recommend buying original, its Antivirus software. Never buy pirated antivirus software!!!!!!!!! Buy original. It is expensive, I know but if you want to protect your files, you must do it. Either look for a friend to share the cost (and buy a copy which is usable by three devices – it exists) or splurge on one (it’s worth it). I recommend Kaspersky Pure, McAfee or the latest Nortons (not the old ones, they drain your PCs power). There are free antivirus softwares like Avast, AVG but you must understand that you must often have to download the latest versions and there are limitations there which are not offered by the free versions.

Note that this is true for today's date (May 24, 2011) so it changes as they update, ok? Don’t ever think that once you download, na ok na. Hindi po, kailangan maging listo ka sa mga panibagong versions. It is not a one and done deal, you have to keep yourself abreast with the newest developments. 

Next, get yourself an anti-malware or anti-spyware software. This is usually integrated with your security software if you buy the extended packages but I still prefer the software called Malwarebytes Anti malware which you can download here for free: http://download.cnet.com/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware/3000-8022_4-10804572.html?tag=pop
Also download a productivity software called CCleaner which you can download from this link: http://download.cnet.com/ccleaner/?tag=rb_content;main

The key thing about antivirus softwares is that you must use them in order for them to work. They work in the background, yes but to really get the most out of them, you must use them. GAMITIN NIYO PO! It should be the first program you run when you open your PC and the last one when you log off.

When you open your laptop or pc or your tablet device, or before you log off after using it, run the QUICK SCAN function of not just one but all of them (yup, ALL of them, not just one or two but all of them) that way, if one missed something, the others can catch them before damage is done. And schedule a full scan once every month or every  two weeks if you are a heavy user. And UPDATE!!! That’s the mantra you have to keep. Update! Update! Update!

 I use Kaspersky Pure because it is streamlined (and cheaper, haha for the cost conscious) and it is the only one that was able to get a very pesky virus I had a bad memory of when I was still in the Philippines. It has the best bang for the buck at least for me. It lack some of the added utilities found in the other antivirus platforms but it is good against many of the viruses out there.

I also like McAffee because of the utilities not found in Kaspersky. It doesn’t drain your computers power and memory and doesn’t cause a logjam when it runs on the background (and it also has Site Advisor which is a great utility. It is also a good antivirus software but I had issues once with it because it was unable to remove that pesky virus that wreaked havoc on my old pc before. 

As for the heavyweight Norton’s, I was turned off by its massive requirements and drain on computing power. Nothing can defeat its utilities, I must admit; but it slows down your computer or laptop which really nullifies every good thing it has to offer. And lately, McAffee and Kaspersky have caught up to it which relegates it now to the bottom of the three.

Again, however, and I must emphasize this, if you don’t upgrade every now and then your virus definitions or the version you use, no matter how great the antivirus software you have, it will collapse under you.

Next time, I’ll talk about web browser security…


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