Antivirus Software and Firewalls

Today we’ll cover two types of programs that help protect your system even further, anti-malware software, and firewalls. Anti-malware? Malware is the term referring to any bit of programming that can infect your computer, making it susceptible to take-over by a criminal online. Malware can be a virus, a trojan, a worm. It can refer to pop-up advertising spying on you, it can also refer to phishing links in emails. Malware can look like a zip file, a music/video file, or a picture. Clicking the affected item is all it takes to infect your PC and cause havoc to your files, finances, identity, or all three. Simply viewing an infected email in Outlook’s reading pane can activate the infected file and release malware into your system.

Anti-malware is software that prevents or quarantines anything that could infect your system. Current anti-virus software protects against known forms of viruses, worms, and trojans. Many also include anti-spam and anti-spyware(advertising that tracks you). It is important to have a solid anti-virus product installed on your computer, kept current, and actively running in the background while you work and play.

For home or non-profit users, AVG Free Edition works well. For businesses, AVG, Sophos, ESET and Kaspersky come to mind. Many of these come with firewalls in the purchased version.

The age of the smartphone has brought along with it, the age of phone-based malware as well.

When I first heard about phone-based malware a few years ago, it wasn’t that proliferant and not much of a threat. But smartphones now run actual operating systems of their own, and those OS’s are getting attacked, particularly the Android OS! Android is known for being a major competitor to iPhone’s iOS, and for good reason. But unlike Apple’s app store vetting process, Android app stores are easier to join and trojan writers have been having an hey-day!

Antivirus companies are realizing they need antimalware software for the smartphone. One such company is Sophos. They have an app that ties in with their enterprise level product that keeps all devices in a workplace safe. Other companies are bundling in AV products with their remote safety programs that include remotely wiping a stolen phone, locating a stolen phone, and restoring data to a new phone. Not all offerings work well on all smartphones, but now more than ever, its imperative that smartphones be protected equally as much as desktops and laptops, if not more so due to their small size and ease of getting lost.

A firewall is similar in concept to the firewall between two sections of a building, or between two buildings butting up against each other. A physical firewall prevents fire from spreading to the other side. Similarly, a firewall for your computer works to prevent unwanted incoming or outgoing traffic to or from your computer.

If you’re behind a router servicing several computers, then you already have a basic NAT firewall blocking unwanted traffic from the Internet. If you aren’t behind a firewall, you want to get malware protection that includes a better firewall than what ships with MS Windows OS’s. Be warned that VISTA’s firewall doesn’t like other firewalls (third party) running on its system.

A solid firewall, and a current anti-virus product are essential in preventing many forms of infection on your PC.

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