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Analysis: does your PC need security software?

Two experts argue for, and against antimalware

The hype surrounding Conficker and the Twitter worm has only served for security experts to issue warnings about installing antivirus software. But is it really necessary? Can you survive without a security suite? Two experts give us their views.

I see some flaws in the claim that a router, the Windows Firewall, and a web browser are enough to protect you. Say, for example, that some rogue software gets in through a compromised web page on port 80. Once installed, the rogue malware then looks for a way back out of the infected PC.

Every time any application tries to open a new Generic Host Server connection, my ZoneAlarm flags me and gives me the option to shut it down. Not all Svchost.exe connections are bad, mind you, but if I'm not opening new applications and ZoneAlarm prompts me out of the blue, then I'm right to be suspicious.

I have no problem with Windows Defender, but what's defined as spyware is elusive; no two companies agree. That's why it's good to have more than one opinion. Installing a non-Microsoft security product, say, the free AVG software, as a companion is a much safer choice. And, seriously, is it wise to entrust your computer's security to the one company that wrote its operating system and most of the programs that OS uses? When it comes to computer security, diversity is usually better.

As for performance, almost all security vendors are working hard to reduce the resource drains of yesterday. For example, both McAfee's utilities and Symantec's Norton products, once seriously bloated and slow, have slimmed down and sped up dramatically. Even free tools are faster today, and almost all of them now allow you to reschedule intensive scans to run in the background or overnight.

I've never had a virus (or any kind of malware) infect my computers, and thanks to a small investment of time and money, I probably never will.

PC security advicee

  1. We get two expert views
  2. More reasons why you don't need security software
  3. Our other expert gives his opinion
  4. More views from Robert

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