TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Is Malware a Place to Buy Mall Clothes?

Is Malware a Place to Buy Mall Clothes?

By Robert McMillen, Koin’s Tech Guru

Malware is a confusing topic for many, and it’s the topic for this week’s technical question.

Q- “I have antivirus and antispyware on my computer. Should I also have anti malware?”                                                                                                                                          Janine R., Hillsboro


A-  Well Janine, Malware can be a tricky subject. The nutshell is that it’s the mob boss for all types of computer bad guys. Malware is short for “malicious software” when it comes to computers. If you’re discussing what to wear at the shopping mall, then that’s a little different. Since we are on the subject, in general you want your Mall Wear to be stretchy and non binding. Preferably without a belt, because if you need to go buy some frosting covered Cinnamon twisted donuts you don’t want that pesky thing to get in your way. And when you add a frozen juice drink you need some expansion room that only stretchy pants will give you. 

But back to the other kind of Malware. There are many things that fall under the category of Malware. Viruses, worms, spyware, Trojans, and more all fall under this category. Up until a couple of years ago we all had antivirus software at a minimum (if your mama gave you any brains).  But then we started seeing that spyware could be just as bad as a virus. Spyware likes to throw all kinds of ads up when you’re connected to the internet. Many of them are X-rated, but some are for legitimate products sold by illegitimate sources.

When you add in the evils of Worms, which is hardly even covered by either antivirus or antispyware, now you’re talking about shutting off the computer and bringing it back to the store out of frustration while wearing your stretchy mall pants.  Fear not, however, because companies like Symantec and McAfee have come to the rescue with an anti malware software. They are joined by many other companies trying to do the same.

These anti malware crusaders have unfortunately gone a little too far. Sure, they come with some great anti everything software, but they have decided to bundle it with software you didn’t even know you needed. Such as an additional firewall, even though Windows already has a decent one built in. You also get anti spam protection for your email. Don’t forget to put on a content filter so you can’t download viruses from websites that are infected. There are even some programs designed to look for skin in pictures on websites. If it sees too much skin, then the picture blanks out. Sounds like too much protection to me.

Lots of people complained about these all-in-one “Suites” because they overdid it and not only caused their computer to slow down because of all the protection, but it also broke a lot of computer programs. Symantec was so secure that at one point it blocked even itself from downloading its own updates. It thought the updates from Symantec were viruses. McAfee is so secure you can’t use the full suite for protection on a work computer or your VPN won’t work, and you won’t be able to log into your network even if you’re onsite! I have seen these things happen, so I know of which I speak. Woof!

So, what is a mall pants wearing, computer using, regular home computer user to do? Businesses have figured it out by installing separate devices on their network that protect against all these things without adding additional software to the individual computers. You can do this, too, but without all the extra cost.
It will be more costly than buying the all-in-one software suite mentioned earlier, but you can protect your entire household with just one box for around $500 and an annual update fee.

Firewalls from Freedom 9, Sonicwall, and Cisco have built- in content filters and spam filters to protect against the two major sources of all malware: Email and web surfing. They are all customizable so the adults have a little more freedom online than the kids do. They also have built in firewalls and you can get them to go wireless in some models. Add in intrusion detection and prevention services, and you’re all set to protect your identity.

You really don’t need all that extra software protection using an anti malware suite whenever you’re behind one of these devices because they do it all for you. If, however, you take your computer to unprotected sites, like a coffee house in a mall, then these suites can help aide in protecting your computer. You’ll just have to deal with all the slowness and have lowered expectations about what you can do when you’re away from home.  You can turn off the anti malware suite when you’re home behind a protection firewall of this type, and turn it back on when you go away to an unprotected location. This way you get the best of both worlds, but have to pay for twice the protection.

I am like most American men. I hate the mall (but I don’t mind the stretchy pants). I like my computer to run fast. When I frag a Marthman from Unit 7, I don’t want my computer to confuse my program with a virus, or slow it down while it checks every file in the game before, during, and after my playing it. Now it’s time for me to go spend 30 minutes on my Wii Fit while eating a sticky donut. I need to keep up my figure, but if I can’t, then Photoshop covers a multitude of sins.

For more great tips, check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show at 9:00 Sunday mornings on AM 1360 KUIK and at 10:00 AM on KOL in Seattle, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com. 

To buy my latest book “How to be an IT Administrator”, go to http://howtobeanitadministrator.com

If you would like your technical question answered here, just email rmcmillen@koin.com. Even if it doesn’t get answered in the column, I will always answer by email.

Published Monday, August 03, 2009 10:58 AM by Katatkoin