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Hmm, Which AV/AS and firewall should I use?


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#1
DJ Uno

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Alright, I've been buzzing around looking at the free security software offerings since my Norton IS 2008 expired last month. I've tried trials for both the '09 and '10 versions, and despite liking their obvious improvement, I'm not exactly willing to dish out $120 for a new 2-year subscription, especially when that money can go towards my fiance's medical costs (She has cervical cancer). She uses this computer more than I do, and the last thing she needs to worry about is getting malware on it, or some hacker looking for a cc number. I've been eying several pieces of software, and have done some research on them, but I'd still like a more professional opinion:

Avast! AntiVirus
Avast! Internet Security (I know it isn't free, but someone I know absolutely loves it, and said they'd get a copy for us. I'm concerned about how effective it is in regards to it's firewall, phishing, etc. though.
Microsoft Security Essentials Yes, I know it's Microsoft. I'm just curious if it's alright to use it along with the other Security Center programs as a base layer of protection up underneath the main security software I will eventually install, and it not conflict.
PC Tools Firewall Plus I'm curious about how good it is since it supposedly has a small footprint on resources.
Comodo Firewall I've been hearing it's the best free firewall around, if maybe a little heavier on resources and a bit talkative.

I'm rather paranoid when it comes to this subject, so I'm looking for what will work the best/best together. Like Avast! AV with Comodo, or don't use MSE because of this or that, etc.
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#2
DaffyKantReed

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Of the products you've mentioned, the free version of Avast along with the Comodo Firewall and SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware ran on demand, should provide you with a good level of protection.

I like NOD32 AV and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010, for good detection and a lighter footprint. If your network is behind a router then the native Vista/Windows 7 firewall is sufficient, if correctly configured.

Practice Safe Hex
http://www.claymania.com/safe-hex.html
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#3
phillipcorcoran

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I second that - Avast Free AV & Comodo (configured to provide firewall protection only), with Malwarebytes AntiMalware for a weekly scan (the free version doesn't have a real-time scanner but that's okay with me, too many real-time processes can really slow down your PC). That's the combination I've been using for 6 months and am quite happy with so far, and all free of course. I refuse to pay for security software while ever there are adequate free ones available, doesn't make sense, so I gave up on Kaspersky & NOD32 and all the other commercial stuff.

Don't assume that "free" must be inferior to the commercial ones. There are some "paid for" firewalls and AV scanners that are terrible resource-hogs and way too bloated.

As for Microsoft Security Essentials - it's a curious name for what is after all just a virus scanner. I have used it but it's not RAM-friendly. And, no, you can't install it alongside any other real-time antivirus scanner.

Edited by phillipcorcoran, 31 March 2010 - 12:09 PM.

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#4
DJ Uno

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Thank you for the replies. I installed the free version of Avast! AV this morning, and so far it has been great. Curious though was that I had to install it in Safe Mode, because it wouldn't unpack and install otherwise. I'm thinking there's something on here that's stopping it, but Avast! hasn't found anything. The fiance loves the way it looks, and it's moderate on RAM usage, so it doesn't slow her browsing down much even though this is one of the first Vista laptops. I'm installing Comodo Firewall at the moment, and opted to use their DNS servers for some extra security.

I never really liked ESET/NOD32, it had a habit of missing some of the more nasty stuff you can pick up online from casual browsing. Kaspersky on the other hand, I had a trial for and liked it. Though I kept getting something about a PDM.Invader when I checked the logs, but couldn't figure out a way to quarantine it since it only showed up in the logs. As for our router, we have a Linksys RangePlus that I have to leave unsecured because the fiance's cousin lives next to us with her kids and can't afford to get their own ISP. So, I'm definitely going to use a software firewall as an added safety net along with the hardware firewall provided by our router. Doing so, I'm guessing Windows Firewall should be disabled, unless it would be safe to leave it up.

I can agree on MSE, I checked it's processes and it was using around 70MB+ in the background. It'd be a good addition to any machine still running XP since we all know any program that runs on Vista uses more resources than it should. Vista, on the other hand, you better have at least a 2GHz CPU, and 2 or more GB of RAM. Otherwise it's going to eat your RAM. Technically, you probably could use it underneath a 3rd party software (like some people do with Windows Firewall/Defender) if you configured properly, but the RAM usage would be gluttonous unless you had a rather speedy machine.

Know of any browser software that helps with hishing, etc?
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#5
phillipcorcoran

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Regarding Firewall software, DJ Uno, - if you install a third-party one you should disable the Windows Firewall because apart from it being pointless having two running, there's also the risk that some access-rules in one might conflict with access-rules in the other. And in any case, the Windows Firewall is inferior to any third-party alternative because it only monitors traffic in one direction (incoming).

Regarding wireless security - having an unsecured wireless access is unwise. Could you not set up a wireless access password on your router and give that password to your fiance's cousin next door, or go round there yourself and put the password in for him/her?

If left unsecured, anyone with a laptop could park up outside your house and maybe use your connection to download illegal stuff which the authorities can trace and it will lead them straight to your door. Even if they don't download anything illegal, do you really want some stranger freeloading off something you have to pay for?

Regarding Web Browsers - have you tried Google Chrome yet? It has a phishing filter, but also I find it starts faster and loads pages faster than any of the others. I use it all the time now. I haven't had to mess about getting plug-ins to work properly on it either, they just work.

Edited by phillipcorcoran, 01 April 2010 - 04:31 AM.

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#6
DJ Uno

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Aye, I disabled Windows Firewall regardless. Even if it didn't conflict, keeping up an inadequate firewall is kind of pointless, no? I did some research and figured that out, since security software hasn't always been a concern when I had a pay-suite already. I know more about hardware, and installation of other kinds of software than I do about security software since I've always bought Norton.

They are... "unfamiliar" with the majority of computer jargon, so implementing a WEP/WPA key would just throw them off completely and bring about a days worth of "complaining" to the missus, which in turn gets redirected at me, because they can't get online to do whatever it is they do. I get it once a week as it is when I turn the router off 1 night a month to give it a rest from being on all the time. I would go over there and do it myself, but they completely flip out if anybody touches any of their computers to do anything to it, unless it's a "licensed professional". I'm guessing they forgot I'm the one who built their computers in the first place, and know every aspect of their machines.

I've found that MAC address filtering to be the best solution for that.
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