I’m going to get straight to the point here.
Anti-virus is dead.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t say dead, because there are still some people that use it. Back in the early 2000′s, almost everyone had anti-virus software, and viruses and trojans were as plentiful as dandelions. However it seems now that mostly everyone who is at all tech-savvy are turning away from anti-virus, which leaves the demographic mostly to people who are confused and misinformed.
Don’t get me wrong, doing a quick scan once a week is a great idea, but running active-scanning software such as Norton on your computer 24/7 just decreases computer performance. Moreover, wouldn’t it make more sense to try to prevent getting viruses in the first place, instead of just trying to catch them before they do damage? Because we all know that some viruses can bypass or disable your AV software, until you download the latest patch. So what do you do when your anti-virus misses something? Well, you’re pretty much screwed. For anyone who has any computer knowledge, here are some great ways to protect your computer more efficiently, more effectively, and less costly than standard AV software.
1. Use a firewall. Firewalls are virtual defenses around your computer that monitor and regulate what can or cannot access the internet from your computer, and vice versa. You will have to grant access to all your standard programs, but after that, your firewall will not bug you unless it notices something new attempting to access the internet. Which means if you ever get a virus that tries to send out your private information, or call to other viruses to join the party, they will run straight into a brick- I mean firewall. A great free firewall program is ZoneAlarm Free. ZoneAlarm comes packed with great features, one of them being an “Internet Off” button, that you can press to bring your computer into lock-down mode if you suspect a virus is lurking about.
2. Use safe download sites. When possible, download your software from a spyware and virus-free site such as Download.com Softpedia, or FileHippo. Avoid downloading files from P2P programs, or shady download sites such as www.123easyfreeware.cz. Even downloading software from the developer’s site could be dangerous.
3. Look for obvious signs of a virus. Be careful when running all exe files, especially setup.exe, which viruses are notorious for disguising themselves as. Verify file sizes as well. If you download any program, it will likely be multi-megabytes in size. Opening an exe with 500kb is very risky.
4. When in doubt, Sandbox it! Sandboxie is a great tool that lets you run any files in a virtual hard-drive which is completely quarantined from your regular files. So if the file is a virus, or something bad happens, you can simply delete the sandbox, and it is like nothing ever happened.
5. Regularly create disk images of your HD. Using paid software such as Acronis TrueImage or Norton Ghost, you can easily create “image” files of your hard drive, which allows you to restore your entire drive easily in the event of a fatal virus or bug. This saves countless hours in the event of having to reformat your computer, but it is quite costly, requiring you to buy the software and also an external backup drive to store the images.
6. Run regular malware scans. Monthly, or preferably weekly, you should run an AV scan, spyware scan, and disk cleaner scan. This is vital to keeping your system in tip-top shape. I recommend using Spybot S&D, as well as CCleaner along with your AV scanner of choice.