How to surf securely? Antivirus

The No.1 threat of safe surfing is computer virus. Unless you are using UNIX or Linux, you are facing computer virus on websites almost everyday.

How to surf securely? AntivirusIn the DOS era, the computer virus was mainly spreading through  floppy disks. At that time, it was cool to bring a box of floppy disks around, just like nowadays bringing an iPad around.

The ever increasing threat of virus in last 3 decades was the result of the dominance of  M$ Windows+ the proliferation of Internet. Internet is a good innovation: it changes the way how information is propagated, and make information sharing is so easy and fast. Unfortunately it also accelerates the spreading of computer virus. The security vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows were, are and, will be the hotbed for computer virus.

The dominance of Windows, as well its security vulnerabilities, will not change anytime in next a few years. The usage of internet will be simply a part of our lives. So, the only solution is to use antivirus software.

Thanks to Microsoft, there are many well-known antivirus software products in the market. When you buy your PC, 90% of the chance is that the hardware vendor has bundled free-trial version of the antivirus software. After 30 days or up to 90 days, a popup window will demand money for continuing the usage. Don’t click pay button unless you have money to throw away.

The reason of not upgrading from trail version is that you very likely have to pay full list price. The competition in anti-virus software market is so competitive that even the big names (e.g., Norton, McAfee) have to offer deep discount to individuals. 

Of course, not all antivirus software is created equally. But, most of them will do and can do the similar job, and you can get them at similar price (after discount, don’t stare at list price).

Even better, you can get antivirus software for free. Free does not mean low quality. On the contrary, some free antivirus software are as good as those from the big names. The only exception is Microsoft Security Essential, which you should avoid at whatever price. Unless you are so desperate, and have no internet access, do NOT use it. Just an example how bad it is, recently, it identified Chrome browser as an virus and removed it (refer to previosu post: Microsoft Security Essentials kills Google Chrome ).

My personal recommendation of free antivirus software at this time is Avast!. I used it personally for more than 5 years on all my Windows machines. It never fails me.  It did the job. It is free (for home and personal use). The only annoying thing is that you have to register once each year,i.e., the free license key works for one year. After one year you have to confirm your email again to get a new key. It is reasonable for them to know their active users. In the future, if I switch to other antivirus software, I will let you guys know.

PS. Using a web proxy will not protect you from most virus. It is mainly for bypassing blocks imposed to you..

This is part 1 of “Safe Surfing Guide” series.

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