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Anti Virus Decisions—part 1

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I wrote a number of articles previously warning about Ransomware attacks and note recently that the city of Atlanta in the USA has been compromised by such an attack. Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software)—that had also taken its toll in Malawi in 2017.

We have also recently been resolving malware attacks of clients—propagated by the use of USB flash drives. On one drive alone, used by the client to provide data for printing to an external frame—we detected the presence of over 1,000 malware programmes.

Is this a record, I wonder? So, the question of up to date anti-virus protection—is it essential? If you are using a device that accesses the Internet, external data devices or other network users, not having anti-virus protection is living dangerously. While this column is aimed primarily at Microsoft device users, every computer device is susceptible to hackers.

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This includes Apple and Android devices, and these have been successfully attacked in the past. Securing your Apple device is a must. Be also aware that hackers are not targeting the mobile web as a very lucrative target— after all, many people use their Smartphone not just to communicate, but as a wallet for mobile money applications.

Many Smartphone malware attacks have been embedded in downloads from games and other applications available on their mobile store. I predict that 2018 will see a widespread malware attack on Smartphones aimed at accessing user banking details. So, Apple and Android device users, do your research and secure your devices, your finances and your personal lives. The answer to whether you need malware protection is a resounding YES—there are no exceptions.

So, what is the best option to use to secure your computers. Our opinions are based on our experience over the last decade – but are by no means definitive. Let us look at individual users first. There are numerous “free” anti-virus program available online currently. Be very aware—many of them are actually malware posing as anti-virus solutions and are often preceded by a warning that your device has been attacked.

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Be VERY careful with these. If you wish to use a free anti-virus solution, ensure that you research it online and ensure it is downloaded from a secure website. Anti-virus solutions are also available pre-loaded as a trial on many new machines. These will expire after a set period of time.

However, Microsoft have bundled their Windows Defender anti-virus suite with Win7, 8 and 10, and your machine is secured by default. Is this a good enough solution? For personal users, I would say, yes. This suite includes Real Time and Exploits Protection, Applications and Browser Control and Firewall protection. Included is a Family Protection range of options—to ensure parental control if required.

It also allows you to scan external devices and files and folders by simply right clicking on the icon and running a scan. Remember, it needs to be updated regularly – it will do this automatically, unless you specifically change the settings. Windows Defender will protect you satisfactorily, from the majority of cloud threats. Bear in mind, no ant virus protection is infallible. User behavior is one of the greatest threats to security.

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