Monday, 21 November 2011

Updating your Antivirus

We are all aware of the need for antivirus.  The world is riddled with these nasty things (and before you think of changing to an Apple to avoid them, it's complete untrue that there are no viruses for Macs).

So we all do our obligatory thing and purchase an antivirus to protect our photos and emails and music etc..  But the question I often get asked is "Do I need regular antivirus, or Internet Security?"

Antivirus comes in all sorts of varieties, so there is no definitive name for the "internet security" versions, but in the main they include a piece of software called a Firewall.

A Firewall, in short, is additional protection from the outside world. The idea behind it is that it should stop anybody from hacking into your computer from anywhere else in the world.  It's like having a high wall around your property, designed to stop people from getting into your garden.

In most cases, your broadband router, supplied by your Internet Service Provider, should have a firewall in it already. If it doesn't, then I'd recommend you request a new one with one built in. This is particularly important if you operate wirelessly too.  If you do have a firewall on your router, there is not normally a reason to have to purchase antivirus with built in firewalls too.

Take the wall around the garden scenario.  If you put a wall around your property, to stop people coming in, you shouldn't then need to put another wall around your house.  If they can climb over the first wall, they'll happily do the same with the second.

There are circumstances where you might open your wireless network for outsiders to use. If you're happy in doing so, then I would certainly recommend you have a firewall between your computer systems and theirs.. to give you that added protection.  However, for the most of us who know all their users of their broadband, an additional firewall isn't normally necessary.

One particular exception to the rule is if you own a laptop, and plan to take that laptop out and about and connect to free wifi in McDonalds, or Starbucks.  Please do have a firewall enabled on your laptop, while it is in an open environment, as it will help protect you from being hacked from another user in the same location.

Firewalls are a benefit worth leaning on, but often we overpay for antivirus software that contains things that are just not necessary.  Please ask before purchasing and we'll happily advise the recommended way to go.

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