Is free anti-virus software enough?

Anti-virus and spyware software may not protect you from all malware, especially Trojans. Users are well aware of the dangers posed by malicious infections and wrongly assume that any anti-virus will keep them protected. Many rely on free downloads and never bother to update their protection, wrongly assuming that they are safe. It is not widely known that many anti-virus systems do not protect against Trojan horses.

Quite simply, anti-virus software protects against viruses. Obviously really! Anti-virus matches the digital signatures of known viruses with a signature database. Authors of malware are constantly exploiting new code to avoid anti-virus software. Therefore, can you be certain that your anti-virus is dealing with all potential threats?

Trojans are not viruses and they manifest themselves very differently. Neither does anti-virus software act as a firewall preventing intruders from entering your system. Like a burglar alarm, it simply notifies the user once an intruder is already in. Clearly anti-virus software in not enough, but what can be done?

The only way to ensure your system is free of Trojans is to use a dedicated application to identify and remove the file automatically. Malicious software authors are always trying to outwit anti-virus and anti-Trojan software. Whilst the best applications may identify and detect millions of different Trojans, it must be kept updated to ensure that the latest threats are controlled. Users may legitimately ask whether this will work in conjunction with their anti-virus software? A good anti-Trojan application will not clash with anti-virus software as they are both doing very different things.

Don’t be tempted to install more than one version of either applications as there may be conflicts. However, running ‘on demand’ scans from a memory stick from different applications is often a good idea. You may often find that one will identify and remove an infection where another will fail. More still, a personal firewall should be considered essential. You wouldn’t spend a fortune on a sophisticated burglar alarm and leave your windows and doors open would you? Beyond this, think about encryption if your data is really sensitive.

Aran Pitter of Data Recovery Specialists says “we see lots of data recovery requests where a malicious infection has caused corruption. These can be the most difficult jobs and often a successful data recovery is not guaranteed. Completely preventable, users really should understand the threats to their systems and how to keep their data safe”