There are many threats on the internet from malicious script kiddies who get their kicks from damaging other machines like it was some sort of street football game.
Worse, governments and public corporations are now actively involved in spying on your activities usually to target advertising. It has gone way beyond the benevolent cookies which remember your password so that you do not need to retype it each visit to that site.
Most people are aware of viruses and the damage they can do. Since anti virus programs can be either too sensitive or not sensitive enough it is good practice to have two anti virus programs so that suspicious files can be double checked, to eliminate false alarms. It is not that the file contains a virus but that it behaves like it might do. This is an attempt at artificial intelligence called heuristics. It has a long way to go yet.
Usually anti virus programs run in a number of modes, that of a complete but time consuming scan and that of continuous monitoring of all movements between modems and disks and memory.
One of the best is
Fprot has a free 30 day trial period.
another very good anti virus program is
AVG from Grisoft is a free antivirus product. All antivirus products need to be updated regularly. It is a game of cat and mouse. The virus writers unleash a new deadly virus and then as soon as it is spotted the antivirus writers update their signature files so that this new variant can be detected and removed.
While both should be used for complete scans only one should be used to
monitor all movements else they may interfere with each other.
It is also possible for a hacker to make a direct connection to your hard disk and replace a program with something nasty. To prevent this a firewall is necessary which will not allow any connection in or out until you give permission. Typically you would allow your browser and your email program unlimited access and monitor all other connections or 'pings' with suspicion. Especially Netbios connections which treat the internet as a local area network and enable a hacker to browse your hard disk and download files from your system. Because of the lack of security firewalls will always block Netbios and Microsoft are replacing this old technology.
See how vulnerable is your internet connection.
Visit Steve Gibson now and try his "Shields Up" program
http://www.agnitum.com/ is a very good firewall program.
Like all firewall programs it may be impossible to connect to anything at all, so it is
better to install it only after you have your browser up and running.
This will also run on Windows XP.
This firewall used to be very buggy and it still has a few idiosyncrasies.
They have improved their customer service and this in turn makes for a much better product.
It does hog a lot of resources and so is not so good under Windows 98.
A really nice feature is the service window which displays all of the network activity on your system.
Just watch what happens when you visit cnn.com.
Now it also includes a browser adjustment feature which plugs into internet explorer and allows blocking of adverts and pop ups and flash and other things.
There are still issues about internet connection sharing and ftp, and also the vanishing icon in tool bar.
A firewall is a very difficult piece of software to write and maintain and this one gives you control of your system.
Other firewalls do things behind your back and so you never see what is going wrong.
This firewall is not free but it is highly recommended.
Another very good firewall product is
One of the nastiest developments are the advertising trojans which some
sites can dump on your machine and monitor every keystroke and report back
your activities to who ever. Read all about it and the now defunct program 'optout' at
Another ad remover is
- Spybot. Ad aware from Niue is a smaller faster program which will remove most threats to your system. Spybot from Germany is a large 5MB download packed with features which will do a thorough job, a very German job, on your system and tell you what the various objects it finds are doing and give you the option to remove them or not. Almost certainly you were not consulted when your host web site dumped these objects on your system. Look now in your c:/windows/system folder and see in you have a file called aureate.dll. You probably have and, yes, you are infected and being spied upon. Of course if you are running a firewall the spy program will need to ask your permission to send out its data.
Another very good spy remover is
Some governments have proposed fitting such programs to every machine that is sold and persuading software companies to sell protection software which does not detect such programs - all in the name of the war on terrorism of course.
Yet another nasty is keyghost, an inline plug which fits between the keyboard and the PS/2
It is powered from the same supply as the keyboard and contains memory
software and a processor and can store every key stroke. Then another program
from the main machine can interrogate it. Watch out if you use internet cafes to
visit your bank account web site, your password is at risk.
To see if your computer has such a device installed,
type: "1234retrievekeys" or look on the back of the computer to see if a strange device is installed.
If you were confused by all of this then Steve Gibson is planning
a program which will do all of these things and give the user total protection.
the grc net filter - by Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation.
Nice one Steve but can it really be done. Good luck to you.
Most of these programs have free versions with free updates.
Also available are professional versions with more facilities.
Norton antivirus is not recommended. It is widely supplied with a new computer and operating system. Norton started out as a brilliant suite of utilities but has now become yet one more corporate entity. Many of its programs are original and still very good, such as undelete and disk doctor. There is an army of spammers who clog your email with free offers from Norton antivirus.
Mcafee antivirus is not recommended either. It is not free. Updates must be paid for. It is very popular with the corporates. They do offer a free trial version. Yet on paying for and receiving a full version, its installation may destroy your system. They are unwilling to reply to emails about this.