Saturday, November 5, 2016

"You can get the best tech tools, but…" - November 5, 2016

If you are into tech as I am, it is a never ending cornucopia of new apps to try, new gadgets to covet and new capabilities to instill that “We live in the future” feeling.

Alas, like everything though, there is a certain amount of housework to do.  Without the drudgery of protecting our devices and networks from viruses and attacks, the fun soon comes to an end, and what should be a friction-free environment for work and fun gets bogged down and aggravatingly useless.

Anti-virus and their ilk are boring to think about. I’ve even put this column off for months as I found more entertaining things to write about.

If you are running an antivirus on your PC already, give yourself an atta-boy.  Then go check to see if it is indeed still running.

Many of us get a free 90-day subscription to McAfee with our PCs.  Problem is that after 90 days we get nagged to pay for the subscription and, instead of paying, often just turn off the nags.

If you did pay, find the McAfee app on your PC and check to see when it expires. And check too for the last time it updated its signatures and actually ran a scan.

If you did not subscribe and it is not running, there are better choices out there than McAfee.  In fact, on the ratings site, McAfee is not near the top.  That site tests and lists the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac and Android devices.  Microsoft’s Defender, a free tool built into Windows, is next on the rating list. If nothing else, use Defender.

The No. 2 choice on the list of top antivirus apps is free. Avast does a great job protecting my system. Yes, they want me to upgrade so I get the occasional popup, but it is not too intrusive. I may subscribe now, but I wanted to experience the free level for column purposes.

If you choose to go with their paid level of service, it is $50 a year for one computer or $70 a year for three computers[1] .  There is also a five PC level.

AVG, another well regarded antivirus suite, is No. 3 on this list.

The paid suites also offer firewalls, although they do not call them that. Avast calls theirs “Home Network Security.”  These apps go a long way in keeping hackers from penetrating your system and installing botnets or other malware.

Windowshas a built-in firewall.  It is a good idea to make sure it is turned on if you do not have any other firewall product installed.

Another useful tool in your battle against those with evil designs on your PC is MalwareBytes.  It is a free or paid app, that scans your PC for malware, Trojans and adware, and removes them.

A app like MalwareBytes is not perfect. It is a race between hackers and apps like MalwareBytes, but use it, upgrade it frequently and ,best idea of all, buy a subscription to it.  

Only download Malwarebytes from its own site or from, a reputable no-malware download site. also has Spybot 2 an excellent tool for ferreting out tracking cookies that tell advertisers and others where you visit on the web.

Be sure to Google the reputation of any tool you are tempted to use.

And never, ever fall for an ad you encounter on the Internet that looks like a dialog box telling you your PC is infected.  The antivirus it encourages you to purchase is likely worthless and, worse, might be malware itself.

Once you have protection software installed on your system, put a monthly item in your to-do list to make sure it is working. If it is set to automatically update its signatures and run scans in the middle of the night, check its history to make sure it is doing it and nothing has happened to prevent it.

If you are to run the updates and scans manually, remember to do them.

You can purchase the best tools, but if they are not running as and when they should you are not protected.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for "finally getting around" to writing on this very important aspect. Very useful info.


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