Centerburg Technology Center

Insight from our technicians.

Virus, Malware, and Spam Protection

Here is something you may have already known: all supported versions of Windows OS have a built-in Firewall (Windows Firewall), and AV/Spam (Windows Defender) program. For all versions of XP you will have to go to Microsoft.com and download it. If you have a router (a common household device nowadays) – it has a firewall too. When you purchase or download other programs that claim you are unprotected without them – they are really just upgrades to existing protection. Often they will turn off the built-in OS protection in favor of their own firewall, other times they will work along side of the existing protection.

Why are non-Microsoft solutions popular and why do so many people refuse to go online without them? Microsoft is like a concerned parent that won’t let you drive the family car – ask often enough and they will hand you the keys. Ever wonder why you get a dialog box telling you that ‘You can’t do that.’ followed by another that asks ‘Would you like to do it anyway?’? Third parties don’t have that bias – they just say ‘No.’ (after all, that is what you are paying for) and so follow through with what is best for your own good.

Another important concept is vigilance. I know a great number of people who will tell you that Malwarebytes is great at detecting and removing malware –  it works every time they get infected… In other words, if they had paid the one-time fee of $24 for a lifetime subscription and had the scanner actively monitoring their PC – they never would have been infected in the first place ; )

In reality many programs that offer Virus, Malware, or Spam protection are adequate at doing what they claim. The problem is keeping them active at start-up, keeping the signatures updated, and following safe browsing practices.

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSSE) is sufficient, it’s free (also free of ads and upgrade requests), and updates with Windows Update. Defender is also free but it is not up to par – there are several others that are and I recommend Malwarebytes with subscription (the $24 lifetime subscription is only available for personal use).

You can significantly reduce your chances of any type of unwanted software on your PC by making sure Windows Firewall and Updates are turned on, install an anti-malware program that actively monitors network traffic, and read all dialogs (especially when downloading programs or updates) before clicking – often there is a box that needs to be unchecked or terms that need to be viewed (hint: sometimes the boxes that need to be unchecked are in the second dialog box that shows the terms and conditions).


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