Recently I received the following question from a reader:
Hello Randy, I use Verizon Wireless Broadband on my Vista OS laptop . For security I use NOD32 Anti Virus and Windows Firewall. Are these adequate or do I need any other security tools?
The short answer is “I don’t know”. Why don’t I know? Because I do not know how the person uses their computer and what they are trying to protect. That said, perhaps I can offer a bit of guidance anyway.
It isn’t only about the security products you have, you also have to make sure that they are properly configured. To begin with it is a good idea to make sure that you do not have public folder sharing turned on. You also need to make sure that all of your software is appropriately patched. Once again, I highly recommend using the Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) from www.secunia.com. Make a habit of running it at least once a month. If you disabled Microsoft’s Automatic Updates, turn it back on.
You might want to consider using Firefox with the NoScript add on as well. This can limit your exposure to hostile code, but you still have to make the right decisions about when to let scripts run and when to say no.
Personally, I like SandboxIE as it provides and additional layer of protection, but it does take a bit of knowledge to use. You need to regularly delete the contents of the sandbox.
Ultimately the most effective security tool is your mind. The more you learn about your computer, how programs work, what programs can and cannot do, and exercise good judgment in what you install and where you browse, the more secure you will be.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, We Live Security