When people think of home computer security, antivirus software always comes to mind. Unfortunately this isn’t enough to cover the basics of home computer security. Since there are many ways computers can be breached, it makes sense to employ multiple solutions to address the various vectors of computer attacks. Regardless of your computer or Internet skill level, you must establish some basic computer setup and practices in the following areas:
- Tools that keep malware out and help avoid malicious sites or content
- Safe computing practices to keep malware from getting in and to keep your private information from getting out
Malware (virus, spyware, worms, adware, root kit, Trojan, etc.) can enter your computer using the same path as data—through the network interface (via wireless or the network interface card) by exploiting one or more operating system vulnerability, email, web downloads, flash drives, CD/DVD discs , external hard drives and many others. You can also be lured in through malicious web sites where you can unsuspectingly download malicious content.
When malware makes it into your computer, the damage can range from a minor annoyance, file corruption, computer slowness, computer operating system corruption, identity theft, all the way to financial loss, or a mixture of any of these damages.
Your privacy or identity can be breached through your computer when fraudulent email posing as your bank, the government, or some authority requesting your confidential information is acted upon. Or through some links that takes you to a malicious site disguised as a bank, government, or other authoritative site.
First let’s look at the various tools you can use to keep malware out and help protect your privacy/identity. You will need one or more of these tools to keep malware away and protect your privacy/identity:
- K9 Web Protection (free)– provides web filter and protection from malicious sites; this is great for keeping you from entering malicious sites.
- AVG LinkScanner(free) – helps provide web surfing protection while you search; it rates and assess the integrity of sites during web searches and thus can keep you from visiting malicious sites .
- Avast! Home Edition (free) – provides basic spyware, root kit, and virus protection; has worm protection and malware protection via web shield feature.
- ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite – provides a comprehensive protection solution ranging from firewall, root kit detection and protection, antivirus/antispyware, privacy protection, anti-Spam, anti-Phishing, and identity protection.
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 – provides virus, spyware, and adware protection; getting the Internet suite version also provides intrusion protection, personal firewall, protection from malware sites, content filtering, spam protection, and identity protection.
- SurfSecret Privacy Protector – provides privacy and identity protection; also sells a privacy vault product designed to secure through encryption your confidential files and information; the privacy vault can prevent exposure of your confidential information from malicious programs and spyware.
- SurfSecret Keypad - provides identity theft protection by protecting passwords and usernames; also protects credit cards and other financial information through the use of an external device.
- CA Anti-Virus 2009 – provides protection against viruses, worms, Trojan horse programs; they have a separate anti-spyware program to protect against spyware.
Tools alone aren’t enough to keep your computer from getting affected or impacted by malware. You need to exercise safe computing as part of your basic computer security. When you exercise safe computing, you avoid opening email attachments that you aren’t expecting. You also learn to spot phishing scams—those fraudulent emails promising millions of dollars if you send personal and bank information, or those emails scaring you into providing your bank account login information to correct supposed account issue.
Should your computer get corrupted as a result of malware getting through, backups of your important files would become very important. Maintaining backups outside your computer is best. Elephant Drive is an Internet service which provides unlimited secure online storage; you’ll need this before your computer files are corrupted by malware. It’s like insurance, you’ll need it when disaster hits.
At the very minimum, your computer security should include the use of tools to protect a computer from malware and malicious sites and reinforced by the exercise of safe computing habits.