Just as in the world outside, there is no such thing as 100% security, but you can protect yourself and be a lot safer by a combination of appropriate software and being especially vigilant. Several lines of defence are needed, this is called the 'Onion Skin' approach - don't be entirely reliant on one layer.
Modern security products, not only detect conventional viruses, but will also protect against spyware and Trojans which may have been overlooked by traditional anti-virus programs. We especially recommend AVG Anti-Virus, which doesn't exhibit the sort of conflicts and problems which arise with 'well known brands'. It also includes a ‘Web-shield’ and ‘Link-scanner’ to keep you safe as you surf.
Additional spyware protection is “Windows Defender” from Microsoft. This is built into Vista, but XP users can download it for free from the MS website. It will run alongside AVG.
This will prevent attacks by hackers: roughly speaking it will only allow inbound traffic which is legitimate, i.e. that web page was requested. Most decent broadband routers supplying your office or home office will include a firewall. For enhanced protection you can install a software (personal) firewall on the PC itself. There is one included with Windows, or you can purchase or you can purchase the version of AVG Anti-Virus which includes a firewall, or for complete peace of mind, we would recommend AVG Internet Security.
Around the middle of every month Microsoft issues a series of Windows updates via the internet. Some of there are merely maintenance or improvements; but others will address serious security issues. Also regularly included is the Malicious Software Removal Tool"; this will clear several known nasties from your system. To keep your system protected it is important that you download and install these updates, change your download settings to 'automatic' if you haven't already done so.
One important reason for this. The 'dark forces' of the computer world will also download these patches and reverse engineer them to find out what hole Microsoft was trying to plug and then create something unpleasant to drop into it. Systems which haven't been updated will be at risk from this.
There are many schemes to trick people into downloading software, and because you have requested the download it will get past your firewall.
- Especially beware of the 'freebies'; whilst there are many valid free items of software to download such as 'Windows Defender' mentioned above, but others are very dangerous. If you are unsure of the provenance of any free software get advice. There are programs purporting to be anti-virus or anti-spyware programs which are actually spyware themselves.
- You may get a pop up window from a web page suggesting that your system is already compromised and inviting you to download a special piece of software to get rid of it - if do so then you are likely to be really compromised.
- Sites offering free ring tones or free screen savers are frequently sources of Trojans. When downloading these you may be asked accept an 'End User License Agreement' EULA; most people don't bother to read these (life is too short). In accepting the agreement you are probably agreeing to have all sorts of unknown software placed on your system.
- File-sharing sites (see below) are a common route for malware infections.
- Computers users need to be not merely streetwise but "Information-Superhighway-Wise".
- Finally make sure that your staff are also aware of advice such as this and incorporate them into your 'computer use' policy.
- Only purchase your software from reputable dealers.
- Don't use pirated or copied software.
- Avoid music sharing software, not only is this in breach of copyright, but can affect your system’s performance.
- Don't share floppy discs, CDs or memory keys unless you are sure they are virus free.