June 24, 2008
In case anyone is not aware, the Computer Virus is here to stay. Even with the dozens of companies that have made billions around stopping the them, computer Virus have reached into just about every possible electronic device there is. Despite the backlash against anti-Virus software, if you’re a Windows user you NEED Anti-Virus Software.
Unluckily, Anti-virus software tends to come in two types. Expensive, and useless. The sad fact is that virus authors are not dumb and constantly find ways around anti-virus software.
With that in mind there is actually a large number of free anti-virus solutions. A lot are put out by companies that also have a stake in the market, IE, selling anti-virus software. Most of these are geared towards Windows Clients such as XP, Vista, 2000. But employing good anti-virus solutions no matter what OS is a great idea.
Avira AntiVirus is one of the few “Free” anti-virus downloads I’ve found for Windows. It seems to do a good job of catching most virus, but is a bit naggy about wanting to upgrade to the Professional Version which is 19.95 euro/per a year.
Malwarecity.com: Among the online sites, this one really stands out. Brand new on the scene, the site takes “boring” anti-virus utility to a new level. If the site doesn’t win some kudos on design alone, I don’t want to know what would. Their Virus Map tool is interesting, but feels pretty skewed. I have a hard time believing Canada is 99% infected. I assume it’s only tracking users of the site by their IP address. None the less the scanner seems to work pretty well and fairly quickly.
Housecall: Created by Trend Micro this is possibly the first online anti-virus scanner. As such it feels like it picks up a large percentage of the virus out there, even among the new stuff. It is a little slow though, taking nearly twice as long as Malwarecity.com above.
Kaspersky: If I had to pick one online product this would be it. Kaspersky keeps getting some of the best reviews around. Better yet it does a good job of finding the new unknown virus that are coming out every day and even identifies some things that are not specifically a virus but could cause problems.
ClamXav: This seems to be the only free anti-virus for Macintosh. Just as Macintosh Anti-virus software is pretty rare , the free world is even more so. This is actually a graphical front end for theClamAV project which is command line and originally meant to run on Linux based email servers. Despite that it does a fairly good job of identifying virus and trojans on the system. This tool is good enough that I’d easily pay for it though and highly suggest donating if you do use it.
After the virus itself, malware, spyware and adware should be the next concern. Even worse, all three can easily provide vectors to let a virus back into the system, which is really annoying after spending 3-5 hours cleaning the computer with anti-virus software. As part of my anti-virus routine I always run the below two software programs.
Adaware from Lavasoft
Firefox’s ability to use browser plugins is a godsend. With plugins a thousand tasks are easily automated.
Keep in mind that there will always be new virus out there that can infect your computer, but that is no reason to not spend the time to protect against it.