Dear Silver Nerd,
I have read about potential trouble with Malware, adware, and spyware on my computer, what is the best protection I can find?
Confused and Vulnerable
Dear C & V,
You did not mention what type of computer software you have; either an Apple (Mac) product or a Microsoft system. There are some other operating systems, but since these two account for the majority of systems in use, let’s look briefly at each of them.
You may have heard that if you own and Apple product you need not fear malware or other malicious invasions. Depending on the age of your software, Apple has a file quarantine and known malware checking facet that greatly reduces the risk of downloading and running malicious code. But to make that effective for you, you must update it periodically by accessing the App Store icon (looks like three pencils arranged in a “A”) and checking all the boxes.
That should go a long way to keeping you safe from entry level vandals. If you still feel the need to have more protection you might want to try Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac ($40.00) which does a reasonable job without impacting your system too much. See below for other things you can do to help protect yourself from these vandals.
If you have a more recent computer or have loaded Windows 10 on your older one, you already have a built in protection called Windows Defender. Microsoft shyly describes it as “Windows Defender is the No. 1 antivirus on Windows 10, protecting more computers against viruses, malware, spyware, and other threats than any other solution.”
Personally, I have found it better than previous attempts at built-in protection, but still vulnerable to various invasions.
As this is the system I operate, I have downloaded additional protection and have found Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus (2016) at $20.00 or Bitdefender Antivirus Plus at $30.00 be pretty good. You can also download AVG for free and that is satisfactory as well.
For each system there are commercial malware removal tools and for brevity, I am not going to review them here. But I would recommend strongly that you back up you files to a safe place off your computer, because there may well come a day when, despite all precautions, some malcontent with too much time on his or her hands will succeed in bypassing your security measures and delete everything stored on your device just because he or she thinks this is fun.
The big thing to remember is that those vandals that send malware, spyware, and adware are always trying to stay at least one step ahead of the protection available and you can probably count on them succeeding about every six months, so you must keep your software protection current and follow reasonable precautions in your everyday use of your computer.
Below are some sites that will give you good advice and practices to help you stay malware free:
The Silver Nerd is one of us and is trying to stay current with the devices and software that is available and can, if used properly, make our lives so much easier and efficient. If you have a question, please submit it and, if it is of enough general interest, the Silver Nerd will answer it in a future column.