The sky is not falling, but you might want an umbrella to keep you from catching a virus

With stories like these popping up in the websites that we tech guys follow to stay up-to-date, I’m not so phased by The Silence of the Lambs or Poltergeist or The Exorcist:

  • WSJ: Fake Anti-Virus is Back and Harder to Spot1
  • HelpNetSecuirty: Cutwail botnet’s various spam campaigns2
  • TECHSPOT: HP laser printer hack raises concern, millions vulnerable3
  • Facebook users under attack from Zeus malware again4
  • ReadWriteWeb Cloud: Malware-as-a-Service Blooms5
  • AppleInsider: Security Researcher finds code signing flaw that opens door for iOS malware6

All kidding aside, there are a lot of individuals out there looking to use your computer or network to steal your identity or attack a corporation or government entity or just give you a bad case of heartburn. We all-too-often advise clients to purchase a new system instead of cleaning an infected one because of the productivity they would lose in the time that it would take us to completely remove every trace of the malware.

Luckily, technology to protect your interests is also advancing by leaps and bounds.

There are several solutions on the market today, each with a different price point, features, configurability and level of protection. We suggest that everyone enables some type of protection enabled on their computer, and here are our top two picks.

Best Free Antivirus/Antimalware Program – Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft released a free tool in September of 2009 that provides real-time protection; system scanning; system cleaning; Windows Firewall integration; dynamic signature service; rootkit protection; protection against real threats, not good software; and a network inspection system.

This program works well with Windows Vista and Windows 7 (no support for other operating systems), is not a memory hog, and catches a good amount of threats. It works as well or better than all the other free options, plus it’s very easy to install on your system. If you have no budget, go with Microsoft Security Essentials.

Best Paid Antivirus/Antimalware Program – ESET NOD32

If you do have a budget*, we suggest using ESET’s flagship security product. Why? It WORKS!

*Our average virus cleanup is roughly double the cost of installing ESET.

What do I mean? In our experience of upgrading clients from another security program to ESET, the first system scan found enough bad stuff to make us feel sorry for the previous antivirus manufacturer. In addition to catching bad stuff when you run a manual scan, NOD32 is also proactive in fighting threats.

Plus, it’s so lightweight that you barely know it’s there, unlike other antivirus applications that significantly slow your system’s performance.

ESET NOD32 features:

  • Antivirus (ThreatSense® technology) eliminates Windows, Mac and Linux viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits and other malware.
  • Antispyware protects your online privacy and identity.
  • Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) blocks unauthorized changes to programs.
  • Cloud-Enhanced Whitelisting (Cloud-Powered Reputation) enables faster, more accurate malware detection.
  • Removable Media Control prevents malware infection from USB flash drives, CDs and DVDs; enables blocking by device ID.
  • Antirootkit detects and removes malware that hides from the operating system.
  • Internet Security Training teaches you tips and techniques to make your online experience even safer.
  • Proactive Protection – ESET’s smart ThreatSense® technology offers multiple layers of protection with precise identification of even never-seen-before forms of malware.
  • Built for Speed – ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 is lightning fast and operates smoothly in the background, so you won’t even notice it’s there.
  • Easy on You – From its compact and intuitive user interface to its minimal use of alerts, you’ll be up and running in a snap without undue interruptions.
  • Seamless Updates – Security updates are discreetly sent to your computer, ensuring your defenses are always at their strongest.

The business edition offers:

  • Security compliance from server to endpoint.
  • Single console management.

Our official suggestion

Whether you choose the options listed previously or another option, use some type of antivirus/antimalware program to protect your computer and your network. You can find Microsoft Security Essentials on the Microsoft website.

You can purchase ESET NOD32 through Interweave – contact Joni Miles Grounds or Ravi Kolli to learn more.