This is a busy time for the bad guys. They have hacked eHarmony, LinkedIn, Target and even the CIA! Your “take-away” from all this is:
You need very good protection software. The free programs just don’t cut it these days, unfortunately. The old stand-bys are not what they used to be either. McAfee in a recent survey did not make the top ten on PC World’s summer 2012 reviews.
I personally have seen Norton blissfully report “no problems” when the computer was heavily infected. In their defense, Norton is most probably the number one target of the very best of the bad guys.
PC World and many others have recommended Bitdefender but I find it a bit too “needy”, always wanting you to read something, do something yada yada yada..
My favorites today, (subject to change by the “what have you done for me lately?” rule, of course) is AVAST, Vipre, then ESET Smart Security 2014 (all the weird capitalization is correct).
AVAST has one major advantage over the other two. You can easily see a list of all of those “must have” apps that seriously compromise your computer security when not updated to their latest versions!
When you click the “Software Updater” button (third button from the left, easily added to the the AVAST Status screen) you are almost instantly looking at any out of date apps (some of these could be used to gain full remote control access to your computer!).
Not only are they listed, the ability to fix them by pressing the “Up Date” button is a big time-saver. One warning here, some of the updates attempt to confuse you into also installing an unrelated app by appearing to be a license agreement.
I advise you to answer all “Agree or Do Not Agree” choices with “Do Not Agree” and all will be fine. The update will occur, and the other app won’t install.
Updating Flash, Java, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Quicktime, iTunes, etc.. (If you have it installed and it is out of date it will be listed.)
AVAST’s “Software Updater” can save hours, compared with researching each of those to discover if they are out of date, then locating an honest SAFE place to download the updates (bad guys love to offer infected versions of these knowing everyone needs and is searching for them).
AVAST also is very good at stopping me from opening those “phishing” type emails that appear to be good but are wolves in sheep’s clothing!
I have done some dangerous things to test ESET and found it very aware of the possible infections. I opened a generic email and tried to view the blocked images and ESET barked “Known bad website” and refused to let those images into my computer.
Vipre is my “new kid on the block” but has earned the high position by being a top detector of that ugly malware that isn’t quite a Virus but can wreak havoc to your system!
I noticed Vipre was finding apps such as Conduit, White Smoke, Inbox, Default Tab, and literally a hundred more. Many of these are piggy-backed with a “free” app and it is only after, that you realize how much disruption they cause and how hard they are to remove!
Also I recommend a companion app to “second-guess” your primary protection. Malwarebytes AntiMalware is my favorite here. The free version will not interfere with installation and operation of any of those primary favorites I just mentioned. The paid and fully automatic version can prevent a successful install of those primary protection apps.
If you have the paid Malwarebytes AntiMalware be sure to disable the real-time protection when installing those primaries.
If AVAST (Vipre, ESET) doesn’t get it, Malwarebytes AntiMalware (MBAM) will!
Big WARNING! Only choose ONE automatic “primary protection” app. Usually they are not compatible with each other. (MBAM used in the manual mode has no problems with any of the primaries.)
There are other good programs I’m sure, register on my page and send me your reviews.