Over the past few years I’ve tested many anti virus products, some awful, some good and some very good. None stand out though. Why? Well for me, they only provide you (the consumer) basic security. If that wasn’t the case why have Internet Security vendors in recent years started marketing “Internet Security Suites”?
That said there are so many other security products on the market too – take a look at http://www.download.com/Antivirus-Firewall-Spyware/?tag=dir and you will see what I mean. Wouldn’t you be confused by what is on offer and more importantly what you need to protect yourself online? I know I would be.
Anti virus products protect you from just that – viruses. Everyone needs anti virus protection, that is not up for debate here. Internet Security suites though provide anti virus protection at the basic level of protection in addition to a number of other protection capabilities. Depending on which Internet Security suite you purchase will depend on what “other protection” you will get.
Nearly all Internet Security suites provide some type of firewall, anti virus, email, browser, anti-malware and anti-spyware security. Firewall protection is standard on most security software – you have one with Windows. Anti virus I’ve already covered. Email security is provided as “anti-spam” – most don’t require the user to do anything other than maybe add an email that may escape the spam filters. Browser security comes in various forms – this maybe a “sandbox” – which means working in a secure encrypted browser and hard drive (volume) – so any nasty viruses or spyware will be installed in your “sandbox” – safely away from your important files and folders. Another type of browser security maybe a “anti-phishing” toolbar which provides alerts on which websites might be malicious. Anti-malware software provides protection from malware – this is one of the fastest growing areas of cybercrime in which malicious software will infiltrate or damage your computer. Nasty stuff indeed is this malware! Anti-spyware provides protection from spyware – which intercepts or takes over a computer is also a growing problem and equally as nasty!
The above are just some of the security that Internet Security suites can provide. There are others for example like pop up blockers. Pop up blockers do just that – block those awful advertisements you see when you visit a website. Some pop up blockers may contain spyware or malware, so do not kill the pop up window (by clicking the ‘X’ in the top right corner), I suggest you kill the browser session (or TAB if you use IE7 or Firefox). It’s that simple!.
Another big problem for computer users is the number of passwords we have. We mustn’t use the same password for different websites otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable. An option would be to consider a ‘Password Manager’ – this allows you to automatically insert a web address, user name and password into a website form. Better still I suggest users use an encrypted volume (your hard disk) and store your files, folders and password database file in here. It also provides a double layer of protection for your usernames and passwords. None of the Internet Security suites provide this ‘TOTAL’ security as of todays date. Please tell me if I am wrong here!
Another important software product might be an anti-keylogger. This encryptes every single keypress which will stop a keylogger from copying all your important usernames and passwords and other sensitive personal information from being copied and sent to a hacker. I currently use an anti-keylogger software and it works with the minimum of fuss. Why isn’t this bundled with Internet Security suites? It’s simple to install and uses little resource – better still this software would stop the ‘keylogger’ in it’s tracks.
Moving Swiftly On…
What about what is on offer on websites like download.com? Well look at the different categories of security software (you’ll also note that on ID Theft Protect we list over 30 categories in our FAS) from download.com.
There are so many products, how much would it cost to have all of them on your computer? A wild guess, I would estimate at 500 GBP ($1000) purchase price (don’t forget there are renewal licence fees – so add this cost year on year). Would it provide you with 100% protection? My guess would be ‘probably not’ – hence the number of security categories on offer.
In all I’m left feeling rather frustrated by the variety of Internet Security suites and differing security categories on offer. Even knowing what I know, I’m left with a sense of “I haven’t got everything, but it will do”. Surely this is not right? My suggestion is to provide security solutions relevant to the threat. By this I mean, lets establish the high risk areas of online security and work backwords providing the products that consumers actually want – rather than products we believe they “might” need. Many Internet Security vendors don’t actually know what their customers want. How about some type of neural security application that learns how you use your computer and protects you accordingly? Food for thought.
Does security software affect my computers performance?
The answer to this will depend on what specification of computer you are running. Recent laptops and desktops can handle running a firewall and internet security software with minimum fuss. Anti virus software can take up considerable resource on any computer. How do you provide a reasonable level of security without compromising the users computer experience? Also another problem is that I know many users who do not regularly update their security? How do you deal with this? Current research has also highlighted that nearly 20% of internet users do not have basic anti virus protection. Why is this? Do they not care? My guess on all this, is that people purchase protection without fully understanding what it does – they do not fully understand the issues either. A friend of mine said to my recently “If I have a virus what is the worst thing it can do?” and “I’ll do something about it if happens to me”. This is yet further proof of the ‘reactive’ nature of internet security and crime in general.
A lasting note from me…. how about lets all be ‘proactive’ and furthermore lets provide consumers a new type of internet security bundle. I’ll share my thoughts on this next month….
I love keeping my readers in suspense 😉
Safe surfing folks!