Tools to Combat Security Threats

It seems that every month we uncover another tool to help us combat security threats.  My last post I discussed the various types of security threats and what they can do.  So how do you combat and rid your systems of these infections?  There are hundreds of anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-rootkit, etc. products both for sale and for free.  Lets talk about a few of them both paid and free.  A couple caveats, the free ones are typically not as good as the for pay ones but can be very useful.  Also, be weary of any products from software vendors you don’t recognize, many of these products are actually the bad stuff.

First, so what vendors should I trust?  Symantec, McAfee, TrendMicro, Kaspersky, F-Prot, AVG, Avira, ESET are a few.  These company’s have all been around for years and have good reputations for combating viruses and malware.  Some do a better job than others and still others have less impact on your system when running.  They are all good products and I can recommend all of them.  Symantec and TrendMicro are two products M3 uses regularly to protect our clients and we have found they do an excellent job of protecting and cleaning threats as well as keeping the resources to a minimum.  We have also found them to be the most stable products causing the fewest computer crashes or software incompatibilities.  All of these products require a subscription so they can update themselves on a regular basis, most of them daily and should be turned on all the time unless specifically required to be disabled for another software installation.  You should NEVER run two antivirus products on the same computer.  The two products will typically combat each other for resources and in some instances cause the computer to be completely unstable.  Please note though it is OK to run other anti-virus or anti-malware products on a one time basis to scan a computer.  This should only be done if the product can be turned on for scanning or is a web based scanner.

As far as other programs, let me touch on anti-malware programs.  Malwarebytes.org makes one of the better anti-malware programs.  The product is free and only runs when you request it to.  It must be updated and a manual scan ran if you suspect an infection.  Hijackthis is a tool made by TrendMicro which is great at determining programs running at start up, add-ons to Internet Explorer, running services, etc.  This program is great to clean up all the junk that gets in your start up routine or attached to Internet Explorer.  Its not an anti-malware tool specifically but can be used in conjunction with one to help clean a system.  Ccleaner is also one of my favorites, a free tool that you can use to clean up all the old temp files and other junk that clutters your computer.  Not specifically an anti-malware tool but a great tool nonetheless to help with badly infected machines.

SO here’s my last resort tool and it works very well to clean nasty rootkit infections.  However, a serious word of caution on this tool.  If it finds a system file (something that is needed to boot your computer or run any part of Windows) with an infection it may delete it and NOT replace it with a functioning component.  This could deem your computer completely useless and would require some additional technical assistance to resurrect.  You may want to leave this one to us…  But in any case I want to mention it.  The tool is called combofix.  This tool will scan your system, download a Microsoft recovery console tool (for your protection) and attempt to rid your computer of the infection.  Again, this is a last resort tool I use on really badly infected machines.  If you do attempt to use this on your own be sure you have a copy of your critical data somewhere besides the computer you are cleaning just in case.

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