As more and more computers connect to the Internet, it becomes more lucrative for virus makers to keep on making programs that expose a victim’s data. The proliferation of viruses on the Windows platform have become cannon fodder for Windows detractors to further rub in the fact that Windows alone is not secure. So what can a common Windows user do to protect themselves from such attacks? The answer is to install an antivirus and firewall on your computer.
Installing a firewall and antivirus on your computer is essential for anyone whose computer is connected to the internet. Surely, even those who frequently transfer data from one computer to another should also consider getting at least an antivirus to make sure that their data are safe from attack. So what should one look for in an antivirus and firewall?
First of all, remember that a firewall is only necessary if you will be connecting to a network or to the internet. The main function of a firewall is to monitor or control the incoming and outgoing data on your computer. Essentially, it helps in blocking harmful connections from other computers to your computer. Take note that some malicious software or even hackers would be able to easily take control of your computer if it is not sufficiently protected from attack. This are usually done by injecting data or getting data from your computer through one of your computer’s ports. Ports can be compared to openings on your computer where a user with enough knowledge can send and retrieve data to and from your computer.A firewall is able to prevent attacks by blocking or closing down ports on your computer and also monitor those that are required for your computer to continue functioning correctly. Not all ports should be closed or blocked and your choice of firewall should be one which has the ability to determine which of these ports are dangerous and which can be safely used.
Antivirus programs on the other hand are programs that prevent your computer from getting viruses, or in the event that your computer does get infected by a virus, be able to remove the virus and either quarantine it or get rid of it permanently. Unlike firewall software though, an antivirus program is essential on any computer that transfers data through other means like through floppy disks, USB flash drives or even direct network connections to another computer. Viruses are designed not only to expose your data but are sometimes designed to modify or destroy the data completely. This could be very costly for people with valuable data stored on their computers indeed.
Windows XP and Windows Vista comes with their own built-in firewall but these firewall programs pale in comparison to third-party firewall programs that one can purchase or get for free from the internet. Some of the more popular firewall programs even have antivirus features included in their more advanced products.
ZoneAlarm is one of the most popular firewall programs which can be downloaded for free or for a fee for more advanced versions. The free version of ZoneAlarm only includes firewall protection without the antivirus features included in its paid versions.
On the flipside, most antivirus programs also feature firewall protection in their more advanced paid versions. When it comes to free antivirus, some of the leading programs include AVG, Avast, BitDefender and Avira AntiVir. As for paid antivirus programs, the popular ones include Norton, McAfee, and TrendMicro. Take note that for the paid versions of all these great antivirus products, firewall features are usually included already, thus there is no need to install a separate firewall anymore.
The biggest question for those who have decided to get an antivirus and firewall on their computer is which product should I get? All the antivirus and firewall programs mentioned earlier have their merits and corresponding weaknesses. Depending on your needs, you may not need an overly complex program to scan or protect your computer. It all boils down to usage and preference. Being a careful and responsible computer user can save you more often than having the best antivirus and firewall money can buy. If you stick to legitimate websites and careful with the files and programs you keep on your computer, even the most basic of firewall and antivirus software on your computer will suffice. Remember, when it comes to virus and hacker attacks, the best defense is good common sense.