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Security Software Installation

There are several good security suites that you license yearly and have the advantage of a single unified user interface. On the other hand most users rarely use the interface, and there are free components you can use that add up to a perfectly good security umbrella. I can install the free components for a standard fee.

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Firewall

The absolute minimum security requirment if you connect to the internet is a firewall. Most modern broadband routers have one built in at the WAN (ie external internet) interface. This is simplistic, but provides protection against most direct external attacks. Older routers did not contain a firewall but were marketed as if they did, with the justification that the address translation they need to perform provides a degree of protection. In any case, although a WAN interface firewall is a good idea, it does not protect you from other PCs on your local network that might get infected with a trojan that tries to spread. So my strong recommendation is that you run a software firewall on every PC.

Windows XP (with SP2) has a built-in firewall. Again this is fairly simplistic, but does protect against direct attacks. Third party firewalls, including the free ones, have application level protection, which means that you are asked to confirm outbound connections the first time an application uses the network. This protects you from trojan programs that pretend to be one thing when they are actually sending information to nefarious servers on the internet. It also means you get a spate of confirmation dialogs when you first install the firewall and then run programs that access the internet or local network, but this is a small price to pay for the added protection.

Windows Vista added application level functionality to the Windows Firewall, but it is cumbersome to use and is turned off by default for ease of migration.

Antivirus & Spyware

Virus, worm, spyware, trojan. You probably don’t know what the difference is, and you shouldn’t need to. What you do need to know is that they are nasty and your PC needs active protection from them. Nowadays even the free antivirus programs include antispyware as well, so you no longer need separate security products to deal with them.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 include the UAC feature that blocks attempts to subvert sensitive settings. The inconvenience of the security popups that are generated is worth the extra safety for most users, so donít switch the feature off.