How to find
Security Suite that meets your needs
There are many security options and security suites on the market.
But before you proceed to read this article, it is important that we state something up front: it is essential for
the reader to understand and appreciate that there is no such
thing as a secure operating system or web browser.
Online survival time without any computer protection gets shorter by the day.
It's important to find and protect your computer with
While the use of security suites and other complementing products can
significantly reduce your risks, they are not magic wands that you can wave to eliminate 100% of your risk. Any
product claiming they can do this should be viewed with great skepticism.
Computer security threats
With that being said, let’s talk computer security and security suites. There are
numerous ways in which the security of your computer can be breached. The most common threats come from worms,
viruses, Trojans, phishing, hackers and crackers. Potential security breaches can
come in the form of downloading unfamiliar email attachments, being monitored by spyware, maliciously attacked by malware, or probed
through port scanning.
Dshield.org scans security
Dshield.org (www.dshield.org), a
non-profit company, functions as a "dominating attach correlation engine with worldwide coverage". In short,
they work with people and companies to track, among other things, port scanning violations. Port scanning
involves a person (referred to as a hacker or cracker) who attempts to break into you computer through the open
ports in your system. Once an open port is located, the individual attempts to collect your personal data or
install a malware program into you computer. On average, Dshield.org logs over 1.1 billion reported attempts of
port scanning each month. What is even scarier is that this is just based on their program participants. You can
imagine how many more incidents are occurring each month to the general population of computer users.
Dshield.org also reports on survival time. Survival time refers to how long it
will take before an unpatched PC is attacked or infected. Below is a snapshot of their current operating system
Current Operating System Breakdown
|| 128 minutes
|| 3648 minutes
|| 1203 minutes
|| 1591 minutes
|| 5432 minutes
Source: Dshield.org – Survival Time History
In short, if you have a Windows-based operating system and an unpatched PC, you
will be attacked or infected in a little over 2 hours. When looked at in these terms, securing your computer
becomes a mission.
Five steps to protect your
Here are five easy steps you can take to immediately protect your computer:
1. Don’t run unfamiliar programs on your computer
It sounds like common sense, but many of the most prominent attacks have involved
spyware and email attachment worms such as Bagle and Netsky. If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t download its
2. Don’t allow unrestricted physical access to your computer
If you have sensitive or proprietary information on your computer, allowing other
employees or family members to use your computer can lead to potential breaches in your computer’s
3. Don’t use weak passwords
Use passwords which are difficult for someone to figure out. People frequently use
the names of children, pets, anniversary dates, or birthdays. Because there seems to be a password needed for
everything, it is not uncommon to see many people using the same password for everything. Big mistake! The use of
only one password provides a hacker with easy access to a smorgasbord of personal information. If you have to write
your passwords down, it is best not to leave them on a post-it, attached to the screen of your computer. You may
chuckle at the absurdity, but it happens more than you think.
4. Don’t forget to regularly patch your operating system and other applications
Many industry experts believe that most network security attacks would be stopped
if computer users would just keep their computers updated with patches and security fixes. Too often, we forget to
do this on a regular basis. Remember that every day, new viruses, worms and Trojans are being created and
distributed. They are looking for the weaknesses in your computer system. Having outdated software is basically the
same as holding the door open and inviting them in for a visit.
Don’t forget to make regular backups of important data
Always keep a copy of important files on removable media such as floppy/ZIP disks
or recordable CD-ROM disks. Store the backups in a location separate from the computer.
In most cases, Windows desktop and screen-saver passwords provides adequate
protection for normal security concerns. However, if you feel more comfortable taking additional security measures
consider obtaining a comprehensive security suite.
Selecting Antivirus Software
The next question is how do you pick the best product for your needs? You start by
asking yourself a series of questions. Do you need password protection for individual files, your desktop, a
network, or to block someone’s access to the Internet? Is your computer used only by you or do multiple users have
access to the computer? How many users in total do you expect on your computer? What are your system requirements?
How much do you want to spend?
Once you are able to answer these questions, you can begin to research which
security suite will best meet your needs. Product reviews and user statements provide a great starting point.
PCMagaine (www.pcmag.com), Zdnet.com (www.zdnet.com), and Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) are just a few
informative sites that offer research on various computer software products.
There are numerous security suites available on the market. Take the time to
choose the one that meets your specific needs. As a starting point, we’ve listed a couple of the more popular
Kaspersky Personal Security Suite
Description: A comprehensive protection program package designed to guard against worms,
viruses, spyware, adware and other malicious programs. The program offers five pre-defined security levels and is
convenient for mobile users.
System requirements: Window 98/2000/XP; Internet Explore 5.0 or higher.
Memory: minimum of 64 MB RAM, 100 MB free on hard drive.
Shield Deluxe 2005
Description: This program provides protection from viruses, adware, spyware, and privacy
threats while using very low system resources. Additionally, the maker, PC Security Shield offers ongoing free
System requirements: Windows 98 or higher, WinNT, WinXP, WinME; Internet Explorer 5.1 or
Memory: 32MB ram or higher, 65 MB free disk space.
Another highly reccomended security application is CounterSpy.