New guidance on free antivirus

A few quick thoughts:

1. Use extreme caution with computer and mobile device use! We have seen a major up-tick in virus, malware, and general crappy stuff running on our home clients and new-client systems over the past few weeks. Make sure you go to, click “Get Flash Player” and install/update the latest one. Here’s a good page by Microsoft explaining “How does this crap get on my computer?”

2. We are no longer recommending Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft’s free anti-virus/anti-malware protection software. As we noticed a few months ago, there are some pretty bad gaps in MSE’s detection and protection ability. We also saw some performance issues on a few systems. Now it turns out there is a malware version of this package “in the wild.” This one looks and acts exactly like MSE but it periodically asks you to buy and install OTHER fake protection software. From the reports we’ve seen (and our own experiences) this fake version is too close for the average person to be able to tell the difference.

Because of these issues we do not recommend Microsoft Security Essentials for our home or business clients.

At this time we’re recommending paid antivirus for our home and corporate users. We’ve had good results with Sunbelt VIPRE, ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, and eset NOD32 in particular. Contact us and we’ll be happy to provide pricing and other details.

There are some decent free choices for home use. We have had generally good results with AntiVir Free (free download, shows an “upgrade to paid version” during each daily update, Avast! Antivirus (free, requires a free 14-month registration by e-mail), and AVG Free. Given the current state of the Internet and the prevalence of online banking and shopping we feel that most users will benefit from the added security integration and support provided by a paid solution.

We do not currently recommend a free antivirus solution for business use.

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