Security Software
 
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The Necessary Software :-  Antivirus, Firewall and Anti-Spyware/Malware.

Finding suitable software....
There is a huge amount of antivirus/malware programs available for download, so finding the best or most effective is a bit of a nightmare, not made easy by the danger of downloading  fake antivirus software advertised on the net. The fake antivirus programs often seem to be highly effective, by finding a number of viruses at the first scan of a PC, however this is just a ploy to get you to buy it. Once bought, cyber criminals have your credit card/bank details, your name and your address, and will use this for their own endss. Not only that, the fake anvirus program adds malware to your PC to allow the cyber criminals to access your PC and sata, record your keystroke, and generally make your life very miserable. To find the genuine software the best thing to do is to visit the VB100 website and look at their test results and rating diagram....http://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/index or the following sites........
http://www.av-comparatives.org/
http://www.av-test.org/
or do a search with Google for Internet Security / Antivirus test results, or something similar.

OK, that's the fake software dealt with..lets get on with finding appropriate software...
There are 2 ways you can protect yourself..
1) download and install a free antivirus program,  a free firewall and a free antispyware/malware program.
2) Download and install an Internet Security Suite from an antivirus company. Although I would recommend using a third party free antispyware/malware scanner as well as the security suite.... Such as SuperAntispyware, Malwarebytes Antimalware (or both) for random manual scans of your system, just to be absolutely sure !

Option number one means that you can save yourself money by using free software which some firms offer. Being free does not mean that they are not much good, in most cases they do what they are designed to do, but do not include some of the more advanced features, or components of a security suite. For example.... Avast Antivirus (www.avast.com) have always had a very good free antivirus available, as have AVG. Comodo and Emsisoft have free firewalls available. Of course there is also the free Windows Firewall that runs as default on Windows powered PC's, unfortunately that does not alert the user of any connections to the internet, although it seems to do its job fairly well.

Option number 2 means that you get the whole lot in one package, you install it and you get the antivirus/spyware program, a firewall and web protection, plus any other special features. A good solution, but mostly restricted to a limited paid subscription time (ecept for Comodo Internet Security Suite which includes an antivirus program and personal firewall FOR FREE. However at this stage I will point out that Comodo's antivirus is a relatively new addition, and does not seem to rate very highly on some of the antivirus test results  that are available, although their firewall is very good indeed.

Download  a few trial versions of antivirus programs, firewalls and  antispyware/malware  software or Internet Security Suites and try them out. Some are more complex than others, some use a huge amount of valuable memory. Remember in most cases you can only have one antivirus program or security suite installed on your PC at one time, otherwise you are liable to get conflicts and system crashes. Give them a good test for a few days and then try another until you find one that you feel happy with.

Making the final decision as to what to use. Base you final decision on the following...
1). Effectiveness (most important)..... Check how the software rates on the test and comparison sites.
2)  The provision of protection from malicious websites and java script. Email scanning, peer to peer scanning, Internet chat protection. Anti-phishing protection. Protection for online banking sessions and online shopping.
3). The ability of the software to protect against malware, rootkits and perform memory and registry scans on startup. Multi scanning engines make virus discovery and removal even more effectivie, but could use more system resources and produce more virus warnings for non infected files (false positives).

4) Ease of use... Some antivirus programs/security suites have confusing interfaces. Some firewalls can be very "nerdy" and can be complicated to configure for an average home user.
5) Check out the level of support for the software, and most important, see if the software has its own forum, if so, go to the forum and read comments from the software users, this will give you an idea whether the software is easy to use, problem free or whether users have any bad experiences from using the software.

Some suggestions and comments based on personal experience.
Over the years I have tried many antivirus programs and firewalls. Despite trying differing products we always ended up using Avast Free Antivirus, it had a couple of innovative features that we found helpful. The older versions had the ability to set the email scanner to show what it was checking, which saved us a few years ago when Ro's PC was hacked and turned into a zombie computer and had become part of a spammers "botnet". The constant messages announcing the sending of each email in a constant flow of spam being sent from her computer certainly brought it to our attention. Any other antivirus program available at that time would not have alerted us. We basically find it does its job, and we are happy using it.We have just changed from the FREE version to the Avast Internet Security Suite, as the firewall is pretty neat too.

1) Bit Defender... http://www.bitdefender.com/
I recently downloaded the Bit Defender Internet Internet Security Suite 2011. I had read that it used a huge amount of memory, but didn't find that it used  much more than Avast Free. It is supposed to be one of the most effective antivirus programs available at the moment (May 2011). It has many features, and the quick scan uses In-The Cloud technology to stop viruses in their tracks. It has 3 interfaces, Basic, Intermediate or Expert. The firewall functions well. Paid subscription 1 year/2 year for 1- 3 PC's

2) Avast Free Antivirus and Spyware.... http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download
Features a Behaviour Scanner, Email Scanner, Website Scanner, Peer To Peer Scanner, Internet Chat/Messaging Scanner, and an Auto Sandbox to run any suspicious programs in a closed environment so any potential virus cannot affect or infect the computers system. The system scans are supposedly very fast in comparison to ther similar software. The Free version needs to be registered every 12 months to get a free 1 year licence.

3) Avast Internet Security..... http://www.avast.com/internet-security
All the features of the FREE version, but it also has other Sandxox options, enabling the user to right click on a program file in Windows Explorer and choose to run the program in the Sandbox. There is also a Safety Zone feature, so that when one wants to do internet shopping or online banking and activated this feature, a closed browser (a bit like a browser running in a Sandbox) and new isolated desktop open and one can send ones details safely knowing that no malicious software on the PC can record keystrokes of steal data, pretty neat idea ! It works well. The special browser is a version of Google Chrome. The firewall is pretty neat too. It asks whether to allow programs to access the net, although it can be configured to make auto decisions. The firewall shows all the connections to and from ones PC, and right clicking on the IP number listed as a connection destination, gives one the option to get details of or trace the IP number. When one of these options is chosen, a map of the world appears and shows you where the connection is, the detailed view gives addition info of the IP number and the ISP. Each listed connection gives details of the file that is making that particular connection. The firewall can be set to automatically decide whether to allow or block connections, or can be set up to ask the user whether to allow or block connections to the internet. 

4). Bullguard Antivirus...... http://www.bullguard.com/
This is the most resource hungry program I have ever come across. It was using 15% of the 2 GB memory on Ro's Win Vista PC just when it the behaviour scanner was running in the background. The software didn't even have a firewall running. It was removed after a few days. Shortly afterwards a rather nasty email arrived from Bulldog basically telling me what an idiot I was for removing it, and that it had already removed a couple of thousand viruses from the PC in the few days it had been in action.... Yeah, like I am going to believe that !!!!

5). Comodo Antivirus/Firewall/ Internet Security.... http://www.comodo.com/
I have to confess that I have only used Comodo when it was available as a personal firewall, before they added an optional antivirus. The firewall worked fine and reliably popped up dialogue boxes asking me whether to allow or block connections to and from my PC to various destinations on the internet. It asked a lot of questions in the beginning, but a later version that I installed on our laptop had a learning mode, and it quickly adapted, and the number of dialogue boxes that popped up were much less intrusive. As I have mentioned earlier, Comodo's antivirus part of the security suite is relatively newly developed, and was not very popular in the beginning. However development of the antivirus has progressed in leaps and bounds, and the whole Comodo Internet Security Suite is definitely worthy of consideration as a complete package. It also includes "Cloud Scanning", in other words, data packets on their way to the users PC are scanned for virus and malware before getting to the PC. Comodo also offer the use of their DNS servers to help to protect the user from accessing malicious websites.

6). Avira... http://www.avira.com/
A popular choice of protection. This firm supplies a free antvirus program for home use, which protects your computer against dangerous viruses, worms, trojans and costly dialers. However it doesn't  support email scanning, for this it is necessary to purchase a licence for the Premium version of their antivirus software. They also provide an Internet Security Suite with the essential

elements found in packages from other vendors. The Premium version is reasonably priced.

7). Emsisoft Antimalware+Online Armour firewall..... http://www.emsisoft.com/en/
Emsisoft's Antimalware is available in a free version, however it does not run in the background, and can be used for manual scans. For "real time scanning" protection the user needs to purchase a licence. The licenced version will run alongside other antivirus software without conflict as long as each program is configures to exclude the actions of the other. I was very impressed with this program when I first installed it (30 day trial full version), as it found a couple of items of spyware that other antispyware/malware programs missed. However it kept quarantining a system file that was created every time I started my PC and the support forum was unable to provide a way to stop this from occurring. I now have the free version and use that for manual scanning. I found configuration of the software slightly complicated and misleading, but it is effective !

Online Armour from Emsisoft (originally developed by Tall Emu in Australia) is the firewall which is available either seperately or together with Emsisoft's Antimalware. It is also available in a free version. The paid version has a few extra configuration settings, such as the ability to exclude or allow connections to servers in various countries around the world, a very neat idea !
I used the paid version of Online Armour for 2 years, although it is the version bought from Tall Emu, before it was sold to Emsisoft. IT IS THE BEST FIREWALL I HAVE EVER USED. Although I disabled the "System Protection" feature most of the time, as it would constantly ask permission to block or allow interaction between system files. Online Armour has consistently scored the highest rating in various firewall tests. I reluctantly un-installed it in favour of Avast Internet Security.

(8. Lavasoft..... http://www.lavasoft.com/
Famous for their AdAware antispyware program, have also entered the Internet Security market, offering a combined Antivirus/Personal Firewall combination with many extra features. They have a high rating from VB100 tests, but unfortunatley I haven't had a chance to try it out.

9). Super AntiSpyware... http://www.superantispyware.com/
Available as a free manual scanner for detection of spyware/malware/rootkits etc. Also available as a paid version with a realtime scanner. I have used the free version for manual scans for a few years now, and it is very effective.

10). Malwarebytes Anti-malware.... http://www.malwarebytes.org/
Available as a free manual scanner for detection or a paid version with realtime scanning for dectection and prevention of Spyware/malware/rootkits etc. This is a very popular and trusted program and is a must for added protection, if only for periodic manual scanning.

11). Threatfire fom PC Tools..... http://www.threatfire.com/
Again available as free or paid version. The free version has realtime scanning for the dectection and prevention of malware infections and is designed to run alonside an antivirus program to give added protection. The free version does not include "oOn Demand Scanning" for the removal of detected infections.

12). Prev X.... http://www.prevx.com/
Another very popular program that detects malware as it attempts to access the computer available as a free  or paid version. It works in a similar way to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. However with the free version, when a malicious action is detected, there is only a very limited number of infections  that it will remove, and the user is prompted to buy a licence to allow removal of most malicious infections.

Additional protection from malicious websites by connecting through special DNS servers.
By configuring ones computer to use certain DNS servers instead of the servers belonging to one's ISP, it is possible to get added protection. The firms/people providing these servers keep databases of known malicious websites that can steal data or download malicious programs onto the visitors computer without the user being aware of what is happening. By configuring ones computer to connect to the internet through these servers, any access to any of the known malicious sites is immediately blocked.

ClearCloud (Free)..... http://www.clearclouddns.com/
The ClearCloud website very clearly explains how to configure one computer to use their servers, in fact a small utility program can be downloaded which will configure your computer automatically. However I recommend looking at the details of how to manually configure it before using the utility, and noting down the IP addresses of your ISP's server addresses in case you want to revert to the original set up at a later date.
From September 2011 the free Clear Cloud service is being discontinued :-(


Comodo Secure DNS(Free)..... 
Read  ClearCloud above.


Configuration instructions are here http://www.comodo.com/secure-dns/switch/index.html

Online Antivirus/Malware scanners

For a second opinion or for detection and removal of suspected infections, online scanners which are downloaded and run after downloading to scan through the computer can be found from the following Antivirus vendors. Symantec, Housecall (from Trend Micro, Panda Antivirus, Comodo.

Verifying suspected infected files
http://www.virustotal.com/  One can upload a file to this website, where it will be scanned by numerous antivirus engines from many antivirus vendors, and after a short while, the result of the scans will be shown and hopefully a conclusion as to whether the file is infected with a virus or not.

Finally....The End Bit.

At the moment I am using Avast Internet Security, Threatfire, SuperAntiSpyware (free manual scan version), Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (free manual scan version), Emsisoft AntiMalware (free manual scan version).

I hope that this summary has been of some help. Remember, before downloading and installing security software, if it is possible. it is advisable to read posted articles in any forums related to the software, this will give you an idea of how other users of the software have got on with using it, whether they have encountered any problems, and how happy or dissatisfied they are, very essential to know before buying any software !