Virus and Malware Protection Essay

With the dawn of the 21st century, reliance on computers and computer systems to run various facets of human life has increased. Nowadays, everything from airline reservations to newspaper publishing is either computerized or employs some version of technology in order to operate. While the basic premise of technology making it easier for people still applies, man’s dependence on it has also opened up a whole new set of problems not present before the advent of computer technology.

Computers are basically composed of two parts: hardware and software.

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The physical properties of a computer, such as the monitor, keyboard, central processing unit (CPU), and so on are the hardware. The software on the other hand, is what essentially makes the computer run. Among these are operating systems (OS), anti-virus programs and graphics editing tools, among others. While hardware failures can do much to damage a system’s infrastructure, software failures can be even more destructive.

Whether it’s ordinary information (such as word documents of a party invitation or pictures of your last group’s outing), or sensitive (such as credit card details, usernames and password, etc.

), a loss of software functionality or security can do much to harm the user or users involved. A computer virus is a program or software that, like its biological namesake, can replicate and infect a system without the knowledge or permission of the user. Because of the technological advances today that link millions of computers together over the Internet, or other networks, it has become much easier to spread computer viruses around.

Malware, on the other hand, is the general term for any computer program that is specifically designed to penetrate or damage a computer system without the user’s permission. It includes viruses, spyware, adware, worms and Trojan horses, among others. Because of the amount of damage malware in general can cause to a system, a plethora of anti-virus systems have since been released in order to repel such intrusions. It should be noted however, that not all of them are as effective as they seem to be. NOD32 2. 7 versus McAfee VirusScan Plus 2008

Comparing the NOD32 anti-virus system with McAfee’s VirusScan Plus is relatively easy. Based on a multitude of independent studies and tests, NOD32 defeats McAfee in terms of virus protection hands down. Using ZDNet as a point of reference for the two, NOD32 is one of the most effective programs today at detecting and removing computer viruses, and is also one of the fastest and lightest (in terms of program size) ever. The only disadvantage to what might have been the perfect anti-virus is its graphical user interface (GUI), which is for average computer users, at the minimum.

Users who have tried NOD32 in the past will attest to the lack of user-friendliness of its interface, though the bottom line would be that whatever it lacks for in graphical design it makes up for with the power of its scanning engine. McAfee’s VirusScan Plus offers more options than NOD32, and its GUI is much more user-friendly, though its overall effectiveness at doing what it’s supposed to be doing in the first place (detecting viruses) falls short of expectations.

Furthermore, reviews indicate that the product continues to offer poor technical support, lacks regular updates, and is only half as good as other anti-virus programs in performance tests. As a saving grace though, its GUI is very easy to learn even for beginners, and scans use relatively little system memory allowing one to do other things while letting the virus scan run quietly in the background. Given the choice to select one of the two based on my needs, I would still go for NOD32 anytime, as the only prohibitive factor for it is its GUI, which I can understand pretty well anyway.

I have always found the immense power of its scanning engine to be a very useful and compelling argument for me to remain with NOD32 as compared to going for other anti-virus programs which may be easy not only on the eyes but on computer viruses too. Online Scan Programs I decided to subject my computer system to one of the more well-known online scan utilities, namely Trend Micro’s HouseCall online virus scanner. A number of vulnerabilities were revealed, and it was only a matter of minutes before these were quickly patched and secured, thus keeping my system safe and virus-spyware-adware free once more.

Spyware and Adware Menaces Spyware is defined as software that secretly gathers information about the user without his knowledge while transmitting it to a third and unauthorized party. Adware, on the other hand, is usually harmless and simply integrates advertisements and promotions into software. In order to test my computer’s vulnerability to both, I downloaded and installed Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware 6 and Spybot’s Search and Destroy. The installation process for both was easy enough, though in the end I preferred the user interface of Ad-Aware as compared to SAD.

Once they were both installed and updated, I wasted no time running a complete system scan on my personal computer and was quite surprised to see a good number of adware, as well as a smattering of spyware, lurking within my system. After the cleaning process, I did another scan and this time both programs negatively reported any spyware or adware left. Overall, both programs did a pretty good job and perhaps the only reason why I would pick Lavasoft’s product over Spybot’s is the more appealing GUI of the former over the latter.

I can definitely say that this is certainly not the first time my computer has been infected with various types of malware despite my best efforts to keep them out using a combination of anti-virus and anti-spyware/adware programs. Nevertheless, my carelessness before has cost me my fair share of computer slowdowns and lost data, thus I can only advocate to other computer users out there to stay vigilant and secure with their data and systems by always having updated protective computer software.

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