Great Security for Free

Wednesday 9 August 2006 - Filed under Default

With new threats appearing on a daily basis, how do you know you’re protected enough? For that matter, maybe you’re over protected with too much security software slowing your system down. A few years ago, most people got along fine without antivirus. Now many people have antivirus software, antispy software, anti-spam, popup blockers, and a firewall too. It’s too much software and it’s quite costly. That’s why I wanted to highlight what’s actually necessary and how you can get it for free.

The must-haves of the security world are antivirus, antispyware, and a firewall. Everything else is only recommended if you’re having the specific problem they’re designed to solve.

McAfee provides antivirus and antispyware both under the VirusScan tool while Norton has separate tools called Antivirus and Antispyware that are included in their Internet Security Suite. Finally AT&T’s online protection provides both as separate tools called Antivirus and Antispy.

An updated copy of Windows XP at Service Pack 2 has a pretty good firewall so as long as you have your Automatic Updates running, you really don’t need to buy a firewall. This is also true if you have a wireless router since that is a great firewall in itself. If you’re running Windows 2000 or something earlier you need a firewall like McAfee or Norton’s Personal Firewall. Kerio also provides a good free personal firewall.

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for… If you subscribe to Comcast Cable or AT&T DSL for high-speed access, you don’t have to purchase or renew anything at all! These providers have partnered with McAfee and Computer Associates respectively to protect their customers. People are always surprised when I tell them this since it seems as if they are getting something for nothing but you have to understand that it helps them as much as it helps you.

AT&T and Comcast are concerned with providing high-speed access to millions of customers. Some users download movies and music all day and all night while most enjoy the high speed for downloading email and visiting the occasional webpage. When a computer is infected, it spends its time scanning for more machines to infect which uses the very same bandwidth that Comcast and AT&T are providing for a good user experience. So the thinking goes that if they can help their customers stay clean, customers are happy because they pay less out-of-pocket to protect their computers, they stay virus free, and Comcast and AT&T don’t have to overbuild their networks.

If you have a high-speed connection, remember to get the software from your high speed internet provider. You’ll save yourself a few bucks and the hassle of renewing a year or two from now. This also means you can skip security software when you’re buying a new computer since both Comcast and AT&T will let you install their security software on as many computers as you own.

Excepting the aforementioned companies, I don’t recommend buying any security software via download from the Internet. There are just far too many shenanigans involved with buying security software online. It may not work, it might be fly-by-night or it may be an escalating racket.

One other note is that some McAfee customers are receiving emails recommending they upgrade to a major new version of their software. For now, I do not recommend you do this. Simply ignore such emails until the smoke clears and their new software has had its bugs worked out.

2006-08-09  »  David Sterry