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Bad Things Can Happen to Your Computer Part 3

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March 29, 2010 by wcobserver

By Wes Eckles, Jr.

In Part 2 of this series I discussed what to look for when selecting an anti-virus or malware detection-and-destroy software. Emphasized was the importance of keeping programs or apps up to date. Let’s look at the types of malware protection software.

Stand-alone antivirus apps focus on blocking malicious software, without loading up on the extras that come with a suite. You typically won’t find–or have to pay for–parental controls, system tuners, firewalls, or other options. That frees you to mix and match your own suite of apps, or even just stick with an on-its-own antivirus program and the built-in Windows firewall. For example, Norton AntiVirus protects against the various forms of malware, but has no firewall, pushing protection, or parental controls.

Suites or All-in-One Security usually include an anti-malware program and a firewall, plus other features such as protection against pushing and scams, spam filtering, parental controls, and Website filtering. Some suites also bundle system tune-up tools. Prices typically run about $50 to $70 for a one-year, one-PC subscription.

Do You Need a Suite?

The short answer is no. Many PC users protect their computers with different combinations of security products–but this does take some extra work.

Instead Of a Suite You can use a paid stand-alone antivirus utility and a free firewall such as one from ZoneAlarm.

What is a Firewall?

Usually a firewall is a program that you install on your computer. It can be hardware added to your connection to the internet. Either way, be sure you have one before going on the internet. A good firewall will protect your computer when connected to the internet.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 include a two-way firewall that can block incoming and outgoing network traffic. Connect to the Internet and search for the free “Windows 7 Firewall Control” and download and install the utility that gives you more control over the Windows firewall.

Third-party firewalls are usually more flexible than those that are included in the anti-virus software.

Do you need help?
I recommend that you hire a good computer technician to secure and tune up your computer if you don’t know how. Several good technicians are listed in the Observer. You may think that you do not need good security for your computer when connected to the Internet if you only send and receive email. If your computer becomes infected with malware, you endanger not only your computer but your family and friends who receive your email.

In Part 4 of “Bad Things Can Happen To Your Computer” I will answer the question, “Which Free Antivirus Software Is Best for You?”

Column written by Wes Eckles, Jr., President of the NWA Personal Computer User Group that meets monthly at the Jones Center at 1 p.m. every third Saturday. Call 839-2388 for information about the group or questions about items in the column.

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