Monday, May 25, 2009

The Best Anti-Virus Approach For Home Personal Computer Use

Of course anti-virus software is an important part of your war chest for protecting PC use at home .... but "working safely" is just as important. My techie Brother recommends not running any AV software on your windows machine all of the time .... though one thing you should have on ALL the time is Zone Alarm free version.

What you can always do though is never ever use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express and never use Internet Explorer. Always virus check any files you download which aren't from utterly reputable sources i.e. Java updates from SUN, etc, using the very handy online scanner from Trend Micro. Other machines on your LAN (i.e. the kids) should be firewalled from your machine and everything networky should go through a Linux server running iptables Firewall and an ADSL router (NOT modem).

These safety-101 basics can help you not to worry .....

* Incoming rogue internet connections.

None of the Windows machines are directly addressable from the internet, only the firewalled Linux server.

* Dodgy emails being executed by your mail client.

Thunderbird never loads images from the internet, never runs javascript or embedded media, and will flag suspect content such as obfuscated URLs and spam pretty reliably. Always delete suspect email without opening it.

* Malicious website content.

Although Firefox has its bugs they are usually fixed exceptionally quickly. Don't go to 'those' sort of sites which are likely to have unpleasant scripts on them.

* Unknown background network activity.

Zone alarm while not perfect will alert you to any unauthorised programs trying to gain network access.

* Compromised downloads.

Virus scan them with the above mentioned Trend Micro tool before executing any programs. The TM database will be the most current revision every time and it only takes a minute or so to do.

It's important to remember that an AV solution is NOT going to protect you or your data or your network, working on your PC sensibly is way more valuable to you with your AV tool as a backup for when your vigilance lapses. I've known of commercial AV software failing to the tune of dozens of infected systems on a corp network, slowing machines to a crawl, etc!

Adhering to the above doctrine .... the number of viruses my techie brother has had in the last 3 years?

None!

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