December 30, 2012

Because I keep hearing about this

And it's a wave of people getting hit with virus infected computers again.  Not sure why, but it seems to go in spurts.  (at least the reportage of such things does).  If you run a windows machine, what is the best way to try and keep your computer from becoming minced-meat? 

I'm sure there are people out there who will give you all kinds of advice and say what I tell you is a load of crap.  The virus/trojan landscape is always changing and every geek has their opinion (which they insist is the only correct opinion ever).  People develop attachments to various ways to try and stay safe, whether or not those ways actually work. They seem to "know" this is the best way.  Okay fine.  I'll tell you what I think.  You may take it or leave it.  Up to you.

I spread this out over a few posts.  Mainly because I don't want one post to get too long.

Let's start with Antivirus software (AV).

First you must understand that no AV product will keep you safe.  Many people seem to think that just because they have AV on their system, they are set.  Unfortunately that is completely untrue.  AV will protect you from KNOWN viruses.  The key here is the word "known".  It will not protect you from the unknown.  It will not protect you from new viruses that haven't had signatures uploaded.  (there are 10's of thousands of new viruses released every day).  The value in AV is in stopping the older stuff from getting your system because the old stuff is still floating around the net, even stuff from the 1990's is still out there.  

So what is the best AV?  There isn't one. At any given point in time, one AV product will outperform the others.  But all of them will be behind on virus signature updates. 

What you want is something that won't degrade the performance of your machine and won't be annoying you with popups while you try to browse the web. 

The best in this category is Microsoft Security Essentials.  Yes, Microsoft have actually done this right.  It updates with system updates, it doesn't get in the way.  It does the job it's supposed to do without interfering. 

Other AV products like AVG and Avast are okay.  You can get free versions, but they tend to slow everything down and become annoying when they try to make you upgrade to the paid version.  They don't give you any better protection than MSE.

Unless you work in IT and/or must use it for work purposes, stay well away from McAfee and Symantec.  Both of these are resource hogs.  Unless you have a fast machine with plenty of RAM, they will slow you to a crawl and can be worse than having a virus on your system.  They often will not let you easily install new software.  And upon updating they will even change settings you have created (for example, if you set up to allow a vpn through, an update might just turn that off causing much angst while you try to figure out what happened).   Worse yet, to get these AV products off your system you have to download a removal tool and use that.  Very very annoying! 

So there you go.  My opinion on AV.  Understand what it will and won't do for you and you will be a bit safer. 

Next up: Malwarebytes

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 12:04 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 581 words, total size 4 kb.

1 The hard drive on my work PC died this past week, and the new drive has only MSE on it. Thanks for letting me know that it's okay to use.

Now I have to wait on 3rd-party vendors to reinstall proprietary programs that I need, to do my job. Have I mentioned I hate waiting? 

Posted by: Rev. Paul at December 30, 2012 01:16 PM (DkimJ)

2 LOL - it's always hard to wait on that stuff.  There is more to the story.  So hopefully I can get the next few parts up soon.  Right now, the head is hurting so I think I'll take a break

Posted by: Teresa at December 30, 2012 01:29 PM (hJwgq)

3 I use zonealarm with the netnanny option... as well as malwarebytes.  Bought the licenses for all my machines.  As you pointed out, it helps but is not a preventative for all new viruses.  I use zone alarm more because of netnanny options than anything else.  I have used the others - though I must say I skipped the microsoft product... I'll look into it more for my hubby's pc... and most of them work the same as you have pointed out.

Posted by: vwbug at December 30, 2012 05:24 PM (FPOeI)

4 Val, I'll be getting to zone alarm in a few posts

Posted by: Teresa at December 30, 2012 07:03 PM (hJwgq)

5 The only issue I have with Microsoft Security Essentials is this: if I boot up and it's been more than about 12 hours since the last definitions update, the Windows Security Center claims that MSE is off and you are in Dire Danger.  This has always been fixable by immediately downloading the newest definitions update, but it's a ding against MSE's otherwise-flawless seamlessness.  (Or, I suppose, I could just let the machine run 24/7/365.)

Posted by: CGHill at January 01, 2013 05:36 PM (XSnca)

6 Charles I have never had that problem.  I  wonder if MSE has set it self to "manually start" instead of "automatic start"?   If you do a search for "services" and look down the list.  Is Security Center set to Automatically start?  If not, it should be.  Sometimes this gets messed up by something else.  Once it's set to auto, you shouldn't get that message on start up again.  If you do, you might want to scan with malwarebytes and a few other online scanners and be sure you haven't picked up a nasty that is turning it off.

Posted by: Teresa at January 01, 2013 08:43 PM (hJwgq)

7 It is in fact set to automatic start, as is Security Center.  I run malwarebytes regularly, and there's never any trace of anything.  My current (admittedly back-burner) research on the matter calls for looking for stray bits of my previous AV (ESET NOD32), though there don't seem to be any references to it in the Registry.  Or it may be that this machine is really old and has so much baggage that it needs to be scraped down to the bare metal and reloaded - though I figure I'll have to buy a new box anyway when support for XP ends next year.

Posted by: CGHill at January 01, 2013 10:29 PM (XSnca)

8 Ah it very well might be because XP is flaky. Not sure why I didn't know you were still on that OS.  If it's running okay otherwise it might just be better to leave well enough alone.  Nothing worse than doing a complete reinstall only to find it doesn't fix the problem because new stuff doesn't like to work with old stuff. heh.

It may also be in the way the network is loaded as opposed to MSE. If XP is slower in connecting to the internet, than MSE expects, that too could cause it to do the minor meltdown. 

Posted by: Teresa at January 01, 2013 10:41 PM (hJwgq)

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