Many people neglect to install anti-virus software, even though it’s cheap to get, easy to maintain, and so important

Sites to find virus software

Micorsoft OneCare Live

……………..

http://onecare.live.com/standard/en-us/default. htm

Norton ……………………

http://www.norton-online.com/ca/store

McAfee ……………………………………..

http://www.mcafee.com/us/

Panda ………………..

http://www.pandasecurity.com/canada-eng/

Trend Micro ……………………………

http://store.trendmicro.com

Bit Defender ……………………………

http://www.bitdefender.com/Kaspersky

…..

http://www.kaspersky.com/internet_security_trial

F-Secure ………………………………………

http://www.f-secure.com/

The Internet has always had threats from viruses and unwanted email, or “spam.” Add to that phishing, hacking, spyware and other forms or unauthorized use of your computer. The idea of running a computer without some form of virus protection is pretty risky, and yet some people do it. There are typically two reasons. One, they don’t want to spend any money. Two, they don’t know enough about it, so they don’t do anything about it.

Unprotected computers make it easier for viruses to spread, and the fact people still fall for email scams and phishing is why we keep seeing more of them. There is good news. You have options for low cost and no cost antivirus software, and you don’t need to be a genius to set up the software and maintain it.

I have used a system in the past called “Grisoft” as a free antivirus system. It is now called AVG Free and offers basic antivirus protection. You can find it at www.free.AVG.com.Another option, available to Shaw subscribers, is called Shaw Secure. It is a more complete package of antivirus, firewall, parental controls, and spam filtering. See details at http://shawsecure.ca//I have used Shaw Secure on home computers and it was very good, but I recall having a problem with it when Vista first came out, so I switched to something else.

There is so much competition in this market and nothing to tie you to a product in the long term, so people switch from one system to the next. I find that even if I get a new computer and it comes with Norton Antivirus, I may use if for the first 30 days and then uninstall it and use something else.

I make the assumption that any of the main ones will protect you from getting a virus on your computer if you have it correctly installed. It will also give you updates to the latest virus definitions as they become available.

Each company also offers all-in-one packages that combine all sorts of protection. But this comes at a price. And Norton Security, as one example, is so complex and each component uses resources. It often drags down the performance of your computer and can also cause conflicts with other programs.

Each person’s situation may be different, so you can check out the options for yourself. I put a list of links to the various options at the end of this article. If you are concerned about the performance of your system, look for a basic antivirus program as it should be less of a drain than something that is all inclusive and running multiple monitoring services at one time.

The basic antivirus system has two main components. First is the actual software installed on your system. It protects the system by scanning files as they run and email as it is downloaded. The software uses the second component, which is the set of virus definitions sometimes referred to as . DAT files. Updates to the list of viruses can come on a daily basis, so it is best to allow your antivirus system to update on its own on a regular basis to make sure it has the latest set of virus definitions.

The software and the virus definitions are the minimum you need. The next level of add-on systems are anti-spam filters, which help prevent unwanted email. I have used some of these. McAfee had a tool called Spamkiller, which created a separate folder and it used a set of rules to determine which email would end up getting filtered out into the Spamkiller folder. It was a good concept and I could add to the rules, add specific senders, until I was getting only clean email coming through. Then along came Outlook 2005 with the Junk folder, which did spamkilling for free.

We are using Microsoft OneCare Live on some of the computers at our office and I like that it has one console where I can view and manage all of the settings. The systems are set up to backup regularly, even though there are very few files that are saved on the local drives. It also runs regular system scans and defrags the hard drive. By putting all of the maintenance controls in one place and allowing you to set it and forget about it, the systems tend to be better maintained.

Parental controls have been around for a long time and I recall the first one I reviewed for a friend, called Net Nanny. It was a very primitive way of selecting a list of allowed sites and blocked sites. You can do the same basic site management in most router setups. When most people hear the word route, they think it is too complicated. But it is really very simple, and if you are not using your router for security on your computers they could be at risk. The router controls the traffic between your Internet connection and the computers that have access to it. A typical set up is a cable coming into the building going to a modem, which then goes to a router, which then allows multiple computers to connect to the Internet. Most routers have a login that allows you to select a list of sites that are allowed and or a list of sites that are blocked. I have never really tested this myself although have had friends at larger companies tell me that they work pretty well.

I will let you do your own research on the items in the list as all have pros and cons, and different pricing. Regardless of your choice, upgrade the software each year and keep your definitions up to day and you should be able to enjoy safe computing.

Allan Dubyts is a manager for Corectech Business Systems, a software development company in Winnipeg.

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