What Security? do I really need this?
YES you do, everyone needs a good anti-virus and firewall program, especially gamers.
What I hear all the time, and I always laugh at this one (I don’t have Anti-Virus and I’ve never had a virus)
Well firstly, if your using Windows and haven’t disabled Windows Defender, you already have a very basic Anti-Virus program on your computer. Although not very efficient, it will still protect you from the most common malware.
Secondly, if you don’t have dedicated 3rd party anti-malware or firewall program, how do you know you have never had a virus?? It’s not like 99.9% of them are designed to jump out at you screaming, I’m a virus.
Actually, most Sophisticated viruses these days are very hard to detect. If a virus has imbedded itself deep into your system, even installing the best anti-virus program after getting infected will most likely not help you. The only hope you have is to run a root-kit detector or perform a malware scan in safe-mode.
The best option for a computer system that's already infected with a serious virus is a complete wipe. This is the only way to be 100% sure. Remove all external drives, network drives and USB’s, Reinstall Windows, install a good Anti-Malware program before attempting to re-connect any external drives or networks.
The only way to prevent this, is to have good security software installed before exposing your system to a potential virus attack.
Malware is a collective term that describes any kind of malicious and harmful software. Such as Viruses, Worms, Trojans, Spyware, Ransomware, Keyloggers, Rootkits, Botnets and pretty much anything with illegal or harmful intent towards your system or online security.
Anti-Virus programs are mostly designed to prevent or protect you from getting malware on your system, it will run permanently in the background monitoring all activity on your system.
Anti-Malware is designed to be run periodically to find and remove any malware that has already infected your system. Usually Anti-malware will not run in the background permanently.
Most Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software these days attempt to do both prevention and removal. Generally, you only ever want ONE Anti-Virus program installed on your system, because they do not usually play nice together and can cause you a major head-ache.
You may have more than one Anti-Malware program installed at once, the more the better. With one very important thing to remember, do not allow Anti-malware to run permanently in the background (sometimes called Active Protection), if it does, it essentially becomes an Anti-Virus program and the same rule applies, don’t run TWO Anti-Viruses programs at once.
I personally have many Anti-Malware programs installed, and I run a scan with them all, maybe once a month for peace of mind.
There are many reputable Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware programs available these days, and a few good alternatives that have recently fallen from grace, but still not necessarily a bad choice.
Most Anti-Virus vendors offer a FREE version and a PAID version, but don’t get confused between “FREE version” and “FREE-TRIAL version”, they are not the same thing. If during the installation/download of the free version you are offered to choose a free-trial (click NO), unless you want to try out all the paid feature first.
“FREE version” should always have essential protection, but may not have full access to more specialised tools and extras. Free version software should NEVER ask for any kind of payment details.
“FREE-TRIAL version” will give you a limited trial of the full version, usually you will get access to all available tools for a short period of time. Reputable vendors will not ask for payment details before the trial ends, and will offer a downgrade to the free version at the end of the trial, if you do not wish to purchase.
“FULL version” will give you full access to the main software, but still may have extra paid addons. Be careful when accepting new user offers, some will automatically bill you the full price in x months’ time. Most software these days is subscription based and generally increases in price yearly. Personally I tend to look for deals on the net, and disable auto-renewal.
The primary goal of a firewall is to stop unauthorized access to your system from the internet, especially from hackers. But that’s not all.
Everyone gets some malware on their system from time to time, malware is likely going to attempt access to the internet for one reason or another. If malware succeeds in accessing the internet, it can download more malicious malware to your system, leak sensitive information such as passwords, key-logging, cdkeys, bank details, personal files and so on. In a worst-case scenario, it could allow a hacker to take full control of your system via remote access.
This is where a good firewall comes into play. Not only will a good firewall block this unauthorized attempt to access the internet, it will also alert you to the attempt. Therefor giving you a heads up, that something suspect is on your system and trying to access the internet.
A firewall will have a built-in database of good and bad software. A firewall will only alert you if something bad or unknown on your computer is attempting a connection to the internet. Most blocking of unwanted traffic from the internet is blocked silently.
Firewall cons : Although very rarely, a poorly configured firewall or game can affect online gaming. If this occurs, do a little google research regarding the game and your firewall, you may need to open some ports to allow the game to access the server correctly.
Most modern games do this automatically via UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)
Most importantly a firewall will work seamlessly and silently in the background, if your firewall alerts you to something, take it seriously. Investigate. If it turns out to be genuine, allow it access.
The list below is up-to-date as of July 2020, many of these products evolve overtime and some change completely. They may start out as a simple Anti-malware program but later become a complete security suite.
Some free versions of Anti-Virus software essentially become Anti-Malware, a scanner being its only function. This works well in our favour. We can install and run some of these alongside our current Anti-Virus for the purpose of periodic scanning. Because each Anti-Virus uses different techniques and a different set of virus signatures, we can get a greater coverage by using multiple scanners.
Installing multiple Anti-Virus programs at once is generally not recommended. But as stated above, some can be run safely alongside your current Anti-Virus, but I would only do this on a system that I suspect may have a hidden virus.
Once you have scanned with the secondary Anti-Virus (Anti-Malware) program, I would usually recommend uninstalling it, further updates to the software may enable feature that cause issues with the current Anti-Virus. Although, I personally have ClamWin and Malwarebytes Free installed alongside my current Anti-Virus on a permanent bases, and never have any issues.
There are also dedicated tools for finding and removing viruses that have already infected your system that are designed to run-once, and not have any impact on your current anti-virus program. I will list these separately
Recommended Main Anti-Malware programs with Firewall
Kaspersky Security Total Security
Webroot SecureAnywhere (Paid)
Trend Micro AntiVirus
Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home
AVG Internet Security
Qihoo 360 Total Security
Avast Premium Security
ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall
ESET Internet Security
Ad-Aware Pro Security
McAfee® Total Protection
Comodo Internet Security Pro
Bitdefender Premium Security
Recommended Main Anti-Malware programs, but don't included a built in Firewall
Microsoft Security Essentials
SpyBot Search & Destroy +AV
Although these don’t have a built in Firewall, you can combine them with one of the following standalone Firewalls
ZoneAlarm Free/Pro Firewall
Xvirus Personal Firewall
Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition
Recommended Secondary programs (Can run alongside your main Anti-malware and Firewall)
Malwarebytes (Free version only)
Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home (cautiously with protection disabled)
IObit Malware Fighter (Free version only)
SpyBot Search & Destroy (Cautiously, Free version only)
Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool
Gridinsoft Anti-Malware (with protection turned off)
Xvirus Anti-Malware (Free version)
RogueKiller Anti-Malware (Free version)
What to Avoid
iolo Malware Killer / Zemana AntiVirus / MalwareFox (Crashes system and clones)
Virus Removal Tool, designed with the purpose of finding and removing virus infections.
FreeFixer (Advanced users only)
Norton Power Eraser
Comodo Cleaning Essentials
HijackThis (Advanced users only)
If you want a second opinion on a file or URL, you can actually have 70+ second opinions. Simply drag and drop the suspect file or URL to VirusTotal. Hit upload and it will be scanned by around 70 of the top anti-malware engines all at the same time, and in a few seconds, you will get the results.
https://www.hybrid-analysis.com (recommended for experts only)
Hybrid-Analysis is a little more technical, but the general drag and drop principle applies with a little bit of initial setting up.
Hybrid-Analysis will give you a very in-depth analysis of a file or URL’s behavior that also includes a VirusTotal scan. It will give you an overall score of either whitelisted, no threat, suspicious or malicious based on a very detailed analysis of hundreds of indicators, including malicious & suspicious indicators, file association, screenshots, Network analysis, extracted files and strings just to name a few.
Hybrid analysis doesn’t rely on signatures or known viruses, it relies on understanding what the file is capable of doing, this is very useful against unknown zero-day viruses.