Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Security Software For Windows

In this follow-up on 21 Steps To A Safer Computer I will specify the software packages I use to protect my Windows XP system (also compatible with Vista and Windows 7 I imagine). The first fact I'd like to convey is that it is not necessary to pay for anti-malware / anti-virus software. Lack of money is no excuse for bad security!

Over the years I have used various products. The general trend is for excellent new free packages to develop to the point that their firms start charging for them. Then they grow into enormous bloat-ware that require constant maintenance and payments.

The first package I had been using was ClamWin Free Antivirus, which is an open source package based on a previous LINUX core. It appears quite robust but is slow to run. I had been using this manually on an as-needed basis. But my recent experience has shown me that it does not find enough Trojans and other system hijackers to be reliable.

Alongside this I use Spybot-S&D to ensure browsing safety. The resident component, TeaTimer, checks for rogue processes and registry changes. Why it is called TeaTimer? Read this.

I am now experimenting with Panda Cloud Antivirus, which is based on a radically different architecture. The local component is small because all the work is done in concert over the net. Furthermore, scanning is not always performed immediately, but instead is deferred based on a risk management regime. This prevents the programme from hogging system resources. I think this is very very cool. And in practice Panda found Trojans and other invaders on my system that other programmes had missed. To ensure its effective coverage I run a scan manually on my Windows folder after I boot up. So far, so good!

Furthermore, I have now run Panda USB Vaccine on each of the USB sticks in the house. This should prevent them from being used as vectors of infection in the future.

You can read about the Panda Protection Model and more on their site.


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