Ensuring your PC and mobile devices are secure is an absolute necessity these days, here are a few essential applications that will help prevent your information from being compromised by the bad guys.
Anti Virus – Norton, Kaspersky, AVG
Anti virus is ubiquitous since it is bundled with basically every PC that’s sold through retail channels. The big problem with bundling it is that the software usually remains in a free trial mode for 60 days or so. After the trial ends the owner of the PC then has to purchase continued virus updates from the anti virus company. Many new PC owners don’t want to pay for the continued updates and let their protection lapse. This is a huge mistake.
As cyber threats evolve, so does protection technology. If your anti virus program is more than 2 years old, it probably needs a refresh.
Here are a few excellent options for anti virus. These programs are recommended on the basis that they consistently stop real world threats. Fancy marketing and sleek interfaces don’t matter, preventing your information from being compromised, does. Unfortunately due to the ever changing threats out there no one anti virus company will detect everything.
All three of the anti virus options below are great choices so I won’t get into specific details, you be the judge.
Norton Internet Security from Symantec
Most people are familiar with Norton, it’s been around for many years as is bundled with new PCs. From my experience with this program you either love it or hate it, I’ve heard lots of good and bad things over the years. Thought their suite of programs may be quite performance intensive, it has a lot to offer. Given Symantec’s sheer size, they have a lot of money to spend on R&D and threat intelligence that smaller players can’t match.
Kaspersky Internet Security
This is a company many people in North America won’t recognize. Kaspersky is a privately held security company which is headquartered in Moscow, Russia. As you may or may not know, a tremendous amount of fraud & cyber crime is committed by people living in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and other countries in the region. Kaspersky anti virus is an excellent option for people who want to go with a company who has a lot of experience dealing with the threats coming from this part of the world.
On a completely unrelated note, the son of Eugene Kaspersky (the founder of the company) was kidnapped for ransom in 2011. The police got him back safely and arrested the perpetrators. In my opinion, this makes the company pretty bad ass.
AVG Internet Security
Another household name, AVG is best known for its free anti virus program. I’ve used their software for a number of years and have had a good experience. Given the types of threats that are out there these days, the full paid solution is definitely a worthwhile purchase. AVG isn’t head quartered in North America so telephone support might not be as easy as with Norton.
Software Updater – Secunia Personal Software Inspector
Often times hackers break into computers via software vulnerabilities in certain applications. Almost every month security fixes are released from companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle and others. The issue then becomes keeping track of all the updates to apply and not letting any slip through the cracks.
Secunia, a Danish security company, makes a great little application called Personal Software Inspector (PSI) which scans your computer for any out dated applications. If it finds a program which isn’t the latest version it will attempt to update it for you. PSI isn’t going to get you a free upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Office though!
PSI is available for free from Secunia’s website and there’s a stripped down online version called Online Software Inspector (OSI) as well.
I’m a seasoned technology professional and even my PC had plenty of applications that needed updating to the latest version. Here’s a tip, you might need to run the scan and update process a couple times before everything is up to date, you’ll also need to reboot a couple times.
Supplementary Protection – Trusteer Rapport
Don’t think that just because you have anti virus installed you are protected from all the bad guys out there. Many viruses that are capable of stealing your banking information can go undetected for a long time. This is why a small supplementary security program called Rapport from Trusteer is so useful.
Rapport prevents information stealing viruses from harvesting your sensitive information like online banking credentials and passwords for other websites like PayPal and eBay. The application needs to be configured for each website that it’s going to protect so financial institutions and payment companies have to register with the company. Once installed the software lets you add your own websites for protection.
Here’s a list of some of the big financial institutions and web companies that offer their customers Rapport for added protection.
|BMO||PayPal||UK Card Protection – Verified by Visa and Mastercard Secure Code|
|Harris Private Bank (BMO)||ING Direct USA||Ulster Bank|
|ING Direct Canada||eBay||Royal Bank of Scottland|
|PC Financial (CIBC)||BBVA Compass||NatWest|
|CIBC||Bank of America||MBNA|
|Scotia Bank||Numerous small credit unions and regional banks||HSBC|
|Bank of Cyprus|
Since Rapport is configured especially for certain financial institutions and other websites, the software is available for download via their own websites. Look for a link that talks about online banking security, fraud or something similar when you visit the website.
Defense in depth
No one security tool is going to be sufficient to protect you from hackers and fraud that’s why everyone needs a layered defence against the bad guys. Having an anti virus program, software updater and supplementary protection will drastically reduce your exposure to online threats. The internet has brought us tremendous convenience but also added to our security concerns so make sure you stay adequately protected!
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