Virus and Spyware Protection

Without a doubt the most overlooked aspect of computing is virus and spyware protection. It is amazing to me to find so many people I know who have absolutely no protection or minimal at best. For those of you in that category and for many of you who would simply like to improve your virus and spyware protection by learning how to fine tune the settings, this post is for you.

Good Virus Protection Can be Free

Many think that good virus and spyware protection has to be expensive to be effective but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, my own virus and spyware protection is free. I've used AVG and Avast, both of which offer free virus protection products. They are both excellent and of course they also offer more advanced protects with additional features for a price, but the free version certainly suffices.

Currently I am using Avast, so I will go over how to download, install, and configure Avast virus protection settings, and include some information about the virus and spyware categories. Okay? Let's start!

Avast Setup

Let's go to the Avast website and locate the free version. Go to http://www.avast.com.  After a couple of download screens we reach the download page, select Download Now button.

setup avast antivirus virus protection
The download begins; we received the .exe install file. After executing the .exe, you'll get this screen which verifies the originator of the download. Select Run.

                                 
setup avast antivirus

You get the option of custom or express install; we chose express install.

 
setup avast antivirus

 

 Successful installation; reboot your PC to complete the install.

 

 
setup avast antivirus

 

You will notice besides the Avast antivirus program installed in your programs listing, you'll also see the orange Avast ball down in your System Tray which is down on the bottom-right corner of your screen. You can click the right-button on your mouse and get a shortcut menu for various Avast choices you can select.

 

 
setup avast antivirus

 

 You can select Open avast! user interface which will tell you the security status of your system.

 Avast Registration

avast registration configure virus protection settings

 To ensure you receive regular virus definition updates and to ensure you can continue to use the product, you have 30 days to register.

 

avast registration antivirus

Configure Virus Protection Settings

To the left you have a menu of what to check/modify settings. Let's check our Real-Time Shield protection:

 

avast configure virus protection settings

Each shield shows the number of files scanned / number of files found infected. The menu on the left shows each individual shield; i.e. File System Shield, Mail Shield, etc.  We can indivudally select one and tweak its settings to our preference. Let's do it with the File System Shield.  Select File System Shield on the left and then go over to the right and select the button, "Expert Settings."  The following box gives us the choice of what type of files to scan and when/how they are scanned:

 

avast configure virus protection settings

 

We can also choose what kind of action Avast should take if the File System Shield finds a virus. To do that select "Action" from the choices on the left side. Once opened, we can see that we have a few options of what type of action to take: move it to the quarantine chest, delete it, etc.

 

avast configure virus protection settings

 

 Below that choice, we have another option to take if the first action fails. So you can see that you really need to go into each of these shields and decide on what the proper action should be. My settings have always been to put them in the chest. That is a safe choice, since the chest keeps the files from getting out and causing further damage. Once all of the shields are tweaked, select the OK button.

Now let's select " Scan Computer" from the menu on the left. You have the options of a quick scan which checks the most likely locations for the virus, a complete scan which scans the entire hard drive, and you'll notice the link for a custom scan, which you can specifiy exactly which folders and files you want scanned.

  
avast antivirus configure virus protection settings

 

Let's select our Settings tab up at the top of the box.

 

avast antivirus configure virus protection settings

 

 Notice that the first setting, "Basic Settings" is just one of several settings to be tweaked. You really should spend a good 30 to 60 minutes going through all of the choices and ensure that you are satisfied with the settings. You can download the Avast Manual which explains things in more detail. To download the manual, select the "Support" tab at the top of the box, then select, "User Manual."

 

 

avast antivirus configure virus protection settings

 

 

Malicious Software Categories

  • Virus

Viruses are programs that attached themselves to other programs.  For the virus to do its damage, it has to infect a program and that program must be run. The effects can be insigficant, ranging from worms or insects crawling around on your screen to the terrible extreme, with your hard drive being erased and basically trashed. Keep your antivirus software running and have it set up for auto-updates.

  • Adware

Adware can be a pain but the aftereffects aren't usually as bad as viruses. Examples of adware would be pop-up windows with ads on them; many times targeted for you by knowing your internet surfing habits.  However, some adware can spy on you and capture some private personal information about you. It commonly gets into one's PC through Shareware or Freeware, especially if you're installing a toolbar. I've had a toolbar that I uninstalled but also uninstalled the program that I had originally downloaded with the adware.

  • Spyware

Spyware, as its name implies, spies on you, collects private information, possibly including bank information and other very sensitive data. Some spyware is fairly harmless, collecting information about your shopping habits, etc. Spyware can infect your PC from email attachments, freeware, or possibly an infected website.

Keep in mind that this free version of Avast is not going to fully protect you against adware and spyware also. It does a pretty good job as an anti-virus program. But it does have its limitations. I would take care of the adware/spyware protection with some other program.  I use Malwarebytes for guarding against adware/spyware. It's a pretty good program and does give you free automatic definition updates.

Virus and spyware protection really starts with you. Always watch which web sites you are visiting and make notes to yourself which ones to avoid for future use.  Be very hesitant to open any email attachments from senders you don't know. If you stay focused and alert, that is half of the battle right there. Good luck!

Sometimes hardware problems can be mistaken as a virus. To get information about addressing hardware issues, you can view it here.