Most folks only seem to have the very rudiments of a protection on their PC. At most you might have the anti-virus software your OEM put on your computer. Duane reminded me it is hard to figure out what you need in today’s world. Here is what I put on every PC that I own. These are all free utilities, but they are quite good:
* “Antivir”:http://www.free-av.com. This is free for personal use and gets updated regularly. It seems to work decently as an anti-virus package.
* “Zone Alarm”:http://zonelabs.com. Thi s is a free firewall that I like to use instead of the Windows XP firewall. It is more complicated to setup but tells you when you are being attacked. Many times, it is more valuable to know you are under attack so you can figure out why. For instance, we were using “PPStream”:http://ppstream.com here and it turns out it automatically uses uPNP to open ports in our firewall, but never closes them down. So we could go in and do it manually. It is complicated to figure out though if you change networks alot because it will block DNS requests and other things that are benign, but if you ever to go a Wifi hotspot, you *absolutely* have to have this.
* “Spybot”:http://safer-networking.org. This is a free utility that blows out spyware and malware. It is free and you just have to make sure you also go into options and turn on TeaTimer so that you are protected all the time against registry changes and also from spyware 24-7.
* Final thing is to turn on Cookie acceptance in IE or Firefox. YOu really need in this day and age check out everything that is laying down a cookie on your machine.
Then there are utilities that you can add that help get more spyware out. That seems to be the least mature in terms of full protection. Here are the ones I use supplementarily when I have time:
* “Yahoo Toolbar”:http://toolbar.yahoo.com. Normally toolbars are terrible spyware themselves, but in this case, Yahoo bundles a very nice antispyware package in their IE toolbar. I think it is webroot who makes it. Finds somethings spybot doesn’t
* “Adaware”:http://lavasoft.de. I don’t use this as much since spybot seems to get rid of most of the bad stuff.