Thursday, July 31, 2008

Free Protection for your computer.

First stretch the condom over your mouse. . . Oh, wait not that type of protection.

FIREWALL; I run Windohs-XP which comes with a built in firewall. It installed with the XP installation, runs automatically, and I don't think I've ever done anything with it. It says it's running but how would I know? My DSL-modem, the box that connects to the phone line, is our internet modem and also functions as a wireless router for the other computers in the house. It has a built-in firewall also. These two firewalls have never complained about one another, so I guess they're both happy.

ANTI-VIRUS; I use "Avast" which offers a free home version of its software. It scans your web pages and emails and what-not. It's a good warning system, but not great at cleaning up something that's already done. It continually updates itself with the latest info. Avast has a second part of its program called VRDB, virus recovery database. This constantly monitors your system so it can undo anything you might do. I disable this part. It constantly chews your hard drive and I don't care for programs which do this.

SCANNERS and CLEANERS; These are programs to search your hard drive files for viruses that have slipped past your protection and made it into your system. 1.) Avast has a scanner you can run manually. I'm not sure I've ever seen it find anything. 2.) SPYBOT, also known as Spybot-search-and-destroy. This will scan for viruses and also for advertising robots which are tracking your internet use and reporting to advertising databases. If your internet seems slow it could be because you have dozens of little programs trying to report to their companies every little thing your doing. I disable all of spybot's automatic functions and only run it manually every few months. It will scan your entire hard drive and I don't like programs which do this automatically all the time your computer is on, it's excessive use of your hard drive. 3). Ad-Aware, This is a program very similar to spybot. I run it like spybot, only manually. It's by a different company so one program will catch some things the other didn't. 4.) This one I like. Windows Live-OneCare Safety Scanner, This program runs in your internet browser (Internet Explorer only) so it must be downloaded and installed each time you use it. It takes time to download, install, and scan, but this program can do the job. This is the one which cleaned up the email spamming virus off my wife's computer when nothing else could detect it.

All of these programs are FREE. Norton and McAffee are the two big pay-for-them anti-virus programs, but I've heard many tales of people having one of them unable to detect and clean a virus and then loading and running the other program to finally get it to work. Even for the money, these programs aren't perfect, so you might as well use the free ones.


Greg said...

Just a couple of additional points. I use the ZoneAlarm security suite, but if you want a freebie, the basic ZoneAlarm firewall is still worth downloading. Unlike the WinXP firewall, ZoneAlarm monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic. You get to set permissions for which programs can access the internet. If a baddie has infected your computer, it still can't send outbound with ZoneAlarm blocking it.
I occasionally run both AdAware and Spybot, but like Randall, only when I want them to run. Spybots "teatimer" wants to run all the time, but I disable it.
I used Norton's Systemworks suite for several years, but when ZoneAlarm expanded from just a firewall into antivirus and antispyware, I opted to go with it. All the big players (Norton, McAfee, etc.)have become "suites" or all in one packages. Also the line between viruses and spyware is blurred and changing constantly. While I like freebies too, somehow I think that a paid service is more likely to be up to the minute with its detection definitions. Zone Alarm updates several times a week, and can be automated too if you want it to.
The other biggie is to stop using Internet Explorer for a browser. Leave it on your computer (Microsofts' updates won't work without it) but switch to Firefox for a browser. It's a freebie, and once you get used to it (and it's not very much different from IE in its basic operation) you'll never go back to IE. The baddies target IE because 90% of the world is using it, but Firefox is much more secure, and every single computer geek I've ever asked is using it.

Randy Durand said...

One of the changes I've made from my excursion into Linux-land is I'm using (on Windows) Firefox browser, Thunderbird email, and OpenOffice for documents, spreadsheets, drawing, etc.

All Free and work pretty good.