Today Microsoft launched a new anti-virus program called Microsoft Security Essentials. People who have tested it are fairly happy with it, it’s certainly better than not having any anti-virus. And best of all it’s free. It works on Window XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
Free download of Microsoft Security Essentials: http://www.microsoft.com/Security_essentials/
Now I’ve always said that paid anti-virus programs are generally better. I still believe this because you get more security features such as web page scanning, a personal firewall and fraud detection. And with all the online fraud and scams that happen every day you need all the security you can get and that costs money.
But sometimes you really can’t justify paying for anti-virus, like a computer you’re only going to use for a month. So this fits in nicely. Also keep in mind that there are several other good free anti-virus programs out there.
I’d also like to point out that sometimes internet security companies can be biased. Take Symantec as an example. On the same day that Microsoft launches a free anti-virus program Symantec started a campaign telling people that free anti-virus programs are bad. I see it as a clearly biased argument to protect their business. Marketing is always biased, it’s always best to get an independent opinion (Fraudo is not sponsored by any companies, the ads on the right are dynamic and I don’t get to choose them).
There is an organisation called AV-Comparatives that tests antivirus programs and compares their performance. They’re independent from the antivirus vendors making their tests more useful. So it’s good to look through the results and see which antivirus programs are working better than others. Below are their top 7 programs, in no specific order:
Full details of their tests are here
– click on the August 2009 report. I was surprised to see Trend Micro was missing from the tests. I tried contacting them about it but I haven’t received a response.
So when you’re ready to invest in a good antivirus program for your PC you can use the results of their tests to base your decision.
Also keep in mind there are fake antivirus
programs out there, they pretend to do a scan but actually install malware.
Some people make the assumption that Macs can’t get malware, that it’s somehow a Windows-only problem. Unfortunately that’s not the case, any computer can get malware such as viruses and trojans (read here for some examples). And there are some companies that already make antivirus software for Macs.
Further evidence of the need for antivirus software on Macs is given by Apple themselves. They’ve made their own antivirus software for the latest version of OS X (called Snow Leopard). This built-in antivirus software is very limited at the moment:
- It can only scan files downloaded from a small number of programs (so it doesn’t scan “everything”), and
- At the moment it can only detect 2 trojans
If you’re a Mac user you can read more here. My point is that you should do everything possible to protect your computer from malware, scams, etc. Assuming that your computer is somehow superior and invulnerable just doesn’t cut it.
This product is a scam. It’s made to look like a real antivirus or antispyware program but all it does is ask you for money. It’s not a legitimate program, it doesn’t stop spyware, viruses or do anything useful.
It’s called PC Antispyware 2010, a name that sounds a bit serious (and misleading). The screen looks pretty fancy, maybe people trust things that look nice or shiny – don’t be fooled by it.
If you see the screen above then don’t click on the download link, don’t install it. You can see a larger screenshot by clicking here. Only use antivirus products from known and trusted vendors.
There is another fake anti-virus product called Malware Doctor. It pretends to scan your PC then tries to trick you into paying them money.
When Malware Doctor first starts up it pretends to scan your PC for viruses and other malware. Then it tells you it found a few things that shouldn’t be there.
It then says that you’re using an unregistered version of Malware Doctor and that you need to pay for the full version to remove the malware.
It’s a scam, if you see Malware Doctor on your PC you need to take action to clean your PC.
How does Malware Doctor appear on your PC?
There are viruses that spend their life downloading malware (viruses, trojans, etc) and installing them on your PC. So if you have Malware Doctor on your PC it means you have more malware that keeps installing it. A big problem.
How do you get rid of it?
There’s a procedure here. If this is too technical for you then you’ll need to get your PC serviced.
Always have a good anti-virus product on your PC that prevents all this malware from installing in the first place. It’s easier to prevent malware than it is to fix.
There are many fake anti-virus products out there, they try to convince you there’s something wrong with your PC or Mac then either ask you for money to fix it or install real viruses.
This new one’s the kind that asks you for money, it’s called System Security. It begins when you download the program believing it’s a new anti-virus product. It’s designed for Windows PCs.
When you install it, it pretends to scan your PC, then informs you it found a whole lot of malware on your PC including viruses, adware and spyware. This part is meant to scare and shock you.
Then it does something truly evil, it stops you doing anything on your PC until you “activate” the anti-virus. And by activate they mean pay them money. So at this stage the only thing you can do with your PC is go to the scammer’s website (which looks nice and professional), hand over your credit card details, and they’ll supposedly make your PC work again.
If you happen to download and install this fake product and it blocks your PC from working, don’t give them your credit card details or otherwise pay for it to be unlocked. You will be able to boot your PC in Safe Mode – ask for a PC technician to help you with this if necessary. You’ll then be able to remove the fake anti-virus.
This highlights the importance of using a good anti-virus product, one that’s known and respected in the IT industry. I generally try not to recommend one product over another but below are some of the trusted anti-virus companies available today:
- Trend Micro
- Symantec / Norton
There are many more and the market’s always changing. Feel free to write about your preferred products in the comments below. These days you can buy them online or walk into a computer store and buy one.
AVG has been making anti-virus products for years, they’re a trusted company. They’ve now made one of their products free, and it would be useful for many of you. It’s called AVG LinkScanner.
It’s a plugin for FireFox and Internet Explorer. It checks every web page you load, and if it’s a known dangerous site it stops it from loading, protecting you before any malware gets a chance to run.
This is very useful if:
- Your main web browser is FireFox or Internet Explorer, and
- You use Windows, and
- You haven’t invested in a good anti-virus package.
It’s a fact that a lot of malware (including viruses, spyware, adware, etc) installs itself when you visit a hacked page. Most of the time you won’t know it’s happening – it’s important to install something that helps protect you.
Download it for free from: http://linkscanner.avg.com/
Ad-Aware is a popular anti-spyware product made by Lavasoft. This protects Windows PCs from adware. Adware is a term for programs that installs themselves on your PC and show you ads – it’s generally a bad thing.
They’re just released version 8 which they’re calling their Anniversary Edition. They have a free edition and 2 paid editions, each with different features.
If you download the free edition remember that you’ll need an anti-virus program on your PC (one that scans web pages as well as your PC).
Main Ad-Aware web page (has all 3 editions): http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware.php
Direct download to the free version: http://www.download.com/Ad-Aware-Anniversary-Edition/3000-8022_4-10045910.html?part=dl-ad-aware&subj=dl&tag=top5&cdlPid=10998841
A lot of people are talking about Barack Obama, it seems to be a big news topic right now. Scammers have taken advantage of the media hype and have started publishing fake news sites.
These fake news sites are designed to get your attention and to go to their web page. Their web page then attempts to install malware on your PC.
Some of the fake headlines include:
- Barack Obama has refused to be a president
- Haven’t you heard latest news about our president-elect?
- Barack Obama abandoned sinking ship
- Obama doesn’t wany [sic] anymore to be a president
These fake sites have a professional look and feel. If you don’t have a good anti virus package installed it’s very likely your PC will become infected and you won’t know about it. The infection forms part of a botnet, meaning it’s under the control of someone else and will be used to commit online crimes.
So be cautious about these fake news articles. It’s highly unlikely that Obama has changed his mind at this stage. Use a good anti virus package that also scans web sites. And don’t use Internet Explorer, start using one of the popular alternative browsers such as FireFox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari.
Whenever something big happens in the news there are people that will always take advantage with made-up sensational headlines, designed to trick you into opening their web pages.