Guest Author - Debbie Jacobsen
A computer security suite protects you against the most common internet security threats – viruses, spyware and intruders. Anyone who uses the internet should be using an antispyware product, antivirus software, and a firewall of some type. These three products provide the security that is necessary to keep your identity safe and your computer “clean”.
According to statistics, only around 20% of computers accessing the internet are protected against viruses, spyware and intruders. With over one billion internet users worldwide, this means that over 800 million computers are “sitting ducks”. It’s no wonder identity theft is increasing – with almost 9 million cases reported within the US in 2006 (resulting in over $56 billion in losses). Without adequate protection against this malicious software that installs without warning, internet users are playing with a loaded gun.
Identity theft is not the only problem you could have if your computer is not protected. Much of today’s spyware is designed to hijack your computer, turning it into a spam-sending robot or using it to host illegal money laundering websites. Many hijacked computers are also used to participate in attacks against companies and government websites. Sophisticated technology allows hijackers to harness the processing power of your computer and combine it with other “stolen” computers. This combined processing power is used to form a “supercomputer” which is used to perform illegal attacks known as cyber terrorism.
Computer viruses have been a problem for years, and are still prevalent today. A computer virus is designed to perform some action on your computer (destroy files, corrupt your operating system, or just send emails), while replicating itself. A common characteristic of all viruses is to procreate. Viruses always spread to other computers – and most do it by secretly sending email attachments to everyone in your address book.
It’s easy to pick up a virus or spyware while on the internet. Most viruses are delivered via email attachments from someone you know and trust. When you open the attachment, you are immediately infected unless you are using antivirus software that is up to date. Hundreds of new viruses are introduced onto the internet every month, and you are only protected if your antivirus software has an up-to-date virus database. All good antivirus software has an option to update automatically. You should set this update to occur every day for the best protection.
Spyware installs without warning and is really hard to detect. You can get a spyware infection simply by landing on certain tainted web pages. This is known as “drive by” spyware. You can also get a spyware infection by downloading free software and by opening certain email attachments. Spyware is designed to invade your privacy. It may capture personal information and send it to a cyber-thief across the world, or it may create a direct link from your computer to a “master” computer that allows for remote control. Spyware is the reason for the increase in internet identity theft.
In order to protect yourself against dangerous viruses and spyware, you need to use antivirus software, antispyware software and a personal firewall. The antivirus product will ensure that any new viruses that are introduced onto your computer are identified and destroyed before harm can be done. Anti Spyware software constantly monitors for spyware and removes it before it has a chance to tap into your personal information. A personal firewall ensures that data that is on your computer stays on your computer, and that intruders trying to tunnel in are blocked. A personal firewall helps with spyware issues because it intercepts data packets that are coming into and going out of your computer.
The best way to get these three types of protection is to use a computer security suite. This is a bundled package of security software that includes antivirus software, antispyware software and a firewall. Many security suites also include anti-spam software and/or child protection software. You can buy all these applications separately, but if they are not developed by the same company they may not be compatible with each other. It is also more expensive to buy separate antivirus, antispyware and firewall products.
The computer security suite I use is BitDefender Internet Security Suite. I am really pleased with the protection that I get, and love the fact that it doesn’t impact the performance of my computers that much (many security suites will slow down your computer). There are other great security suites on the market, and some to consider are fSecure Internet Security , Computer Associates eTrust Internet Security , McAfee and Kaspersky Internet Security.