Spyware Prevention – Are You Doing Your Part?

Every week, I get to see quite a few repeat customers carrying their computer into my shop again, that last came in about 6 – 12 months ago. No, they are not here for any scheduled maintenance, they are usually back because of another malware infection. Not that I didn’t fix it right the first time, but because they repeated the same habits that got them infected in the first place.

Carrying a ComputerEver heard the saying that “Practice makes Perfect”? It always sounds good, but in reality, it is more like “Practice makes Permanent”. For most internet surfers, they are NOT doing their part by practicing good internet surfing habits, so they end up in a permanent 6 – 12 month cycle of getting their computer infected.

Some let their antivirus software expire, and almost everyone of them never updated or ran even one single scan with any of the malware scanners I installed for them. I can usually match the date they were last updated with their last invoice. And once again, they will ask me how to prevent this from happening … again.

There is no 5 minute lecture I can give to effectively train you on what to do, although I can give you my 2 second cure, that is to “stay off the internet!” But if that is not an option for you, all I can say is that this website is where I pour out my knowledge of what to do. I actually use the products I recommend, and along with good internet surfing habits, I have managed to keep my computers clean.

Once in a while, I get a customer that takes my spyware prevention pep-talk a bit too far and they start looking for other products to install for even more security. Just remember my advice about NOT running 2 of the same type of “active” security program.

Also, if you haven’t noticed already, there are serious ethics problems on the internet. There are plenty of websites that will promote their software as being the best, and while that may be disputed amongst the big boys in the industry, there are some out there that are outright scams and will infect your computer. So don’t always believe what you hear on Radio and TV. Be very skeptical about the actor portrayals claiming how great it is, they are just actors being PAID to tell you how great it is. Check it out yourself to see if they are certified by a well known 3rd party security software certification company such as ICSA Labs, Virus Bulletin, AV Comparatives, etc.

Below is a chart that compares the Virus Bulletin VB100 test results from several well known antivirus vendors from May 1998 through Dec 2010. As you can see, it “does” matter which antivirus product you use.

Antivirus Vendor Comparison

Most antivirus companies carry one or more independent certifications. As of this writing, here is a partial list of some reputable antivirus programs/vendors with certifications on record with ICSA Labs:

Ahn Lab | Avast | Avira | Authentium | AVG | Bitdefender | BullGuard | CMC InfoSec | Comodo | Computer Associates | ESET | F-Secure | iolo | K7 Computing | Kaspersky | McAfee | Microsoft | NETGEAR ProSecure | Norman Data Defense | Panda | Sophos | Symantec | VIPRE | Virus Busters | Webroot | Zone Alarm

So, before you start surfing the internet, do your part. Do your homework, get a few top-tier security programs (antivirus, antispyware, antispam, firewall), update and use them regularly, and get wise to the tactics the malware promoters use so you can avoid them.

And then, maybe we won’t see each other so often (at least for the wrong reason).

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