This is the beginning of a series of posts dedicated to helping the less geeky among us to maintain their Windows box in good working order. If you want to see me cover another topic, leave a post indicating as much.
Long ago viruses were meek and playful creatures that would pop up a smiley face or say "Bang, you're dead" on your computer screen. Now they are coming for your soul, or at least your personal information and control of your computer. There is a frightening trend with the spread of botnets. In these futuristic sounding arrangements, a clever hacker seizes control of anywhere from a couple to millions of PC's that become his/her zombie playthings to be used in hacking pursuits against others. Often, the controller will extort money from companies who have substantial web presence by threatening a Denial of Service (DoS) attack if they refuse to pay up. In this kind of attack, your pc and all the others will relentlessly make requests to the servers of said company so that they are effectively unable to serve normal customers for however long the attack continues. Some of these nets are so intelligent that they automatically attack people who try to snoop around and find up what they are up to. But back to viruses.
Viruses can make your computer perform poorly, compromise your privacy, or cause your computer to unwittingly be used in criminal activities. So it is imperative that you do what you can to prevent your computer from being infected. Luckily there are many options, and some are free. Simply get an antivirus program and leave it running ALL THE TIME with scheduled scans about 1 time a week at off hours. Here is a list of a few antivirus programs I like and my opinion of how they perform.
+Fast, excellent detection, fast updates
-Not free, older versions have poor x64 support
2.Avast! (My Favorite)
+Free, great detection, very frequent updates, solid x64 support
- Slower than others
+Free, good detection
-90's looking interface, was lacking in x64 support
Stay tuned, I'll be talking about spyware in the next edition.