Operating Systems Windows

Antivirus Protection And You

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s time to give up the dreams of a prolonged vacation and get cracking.

I was thinking the other day that a lot of people overestimate the importance of an anti-virus program(let’s call it AV for short). Don’t get me wrong, security is extremely important, for many reasons, no matter who you are but AV software in my opinion is not as important. Let me explain.

You see, there was a time, back in the wild days of the Internet when horrible viruses like WIN32/CIH roamed free causing havoc on your PCs. I should know, I was infected twice and survived. That cheeky virus got distributed on magazine discs and even came preloaded with some IBM PCs. It was ridiculous. I got mine from a computer games magazine’s disc, from a movie file in .exe format. Now listen to me: those days are gone. The dude who wrote the infamous CIH is serving time in the big house back in China and won’t do it again :D. The windows operating system was much more frail back then. I myself wrote a simplistic VB program that upon running would erase your system.ini file(wow, no protection guys?) making your system unusable – it would no longer boot. But that was back in the 1990s. Things HAVE changed.

I remember attending a lecture with a Microsoft person who, like me, was not very fond of AV software (this was back when Windows XP SP2 was released). He said, and I agree, that a rather large amount of protection comes from simply keeping your OS up to date. Security flaws that malevolent people might exploit to get your sensible information via worms and such get patched all the time once they are discovered. So that’s one thing you can do to be safe – just turn on automatic updates(Windows 7 makes it even easier than any other Windows OS).

To avoid any confusion – I am not saying you don’t need an AV program. I am just saying you shouldn’t spend your money on one. You can get all the protection a sensible person needs from a free AV.

All you really need is an AV program with a nice up-to-date database of worms and other junk. In my opinion, the most you are going to get infected with is some worm or malware trying to email all your friends porn or some silly thing like that. They get detected instantly by any AV if you have it. Also, your Windows OS periodically runs the malicious software removal tool. As free AVs go, I use Microsoft Security Essentials and like it. I like it because it is not intrusive and scans the executable files I open – that’s all you really need.

I will repeat myself – the days of hardware destructive viruses are behind us. Also, just avoid dodgy download sites and you will never pick up a worm – it’s really that easy. Internet scam sites aren’t usually very clever and are easy to spot – just don’t download that creepy program that will allow you access to…well, you know.

I am not trying to discredit AV companies, I am just saying that I don’t agree with AV solutions that are overpriced and which are horribly intrusive all in the name of protecting you from the Evil Internet. The Internet is only as evil as you make it. Oh, and don’t get me started on secondary firewalls – your OS already has a firewall – how many damn firewalls do you need?

Feel free to tell me about your AV software experiences.

That is all. Be safe ;).

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