Here we are getting ready for the holiday season, once again. For many of us it’s a wonderful time of the year, full of memories of previous Christmases, and great anticipation for all the good things to come.
During the last holiday season, like many of you, I took the opportunity to get together with family and friends. As so often happens on these occasions, I got quizzed on everyones, it seems to me, least favorite computer related topic; the state of computer security.
These informal “question and answer” gabfests are important to me, since they are a good way to stay in the loop of real world computing experienced by typical users, and not just the esoteric world of the typical “geeky” user.
The overriding conclusion from the survey was: typical computer users are in need of a “reality check” when it comes to home computer security. Based on my own experiences, I believe this survey does not overstate the case and in fact, additional studies done in the last few months of this year seem to indicate the “security knowledge gap”, continues to widen.
The McAfee/NCSA study found that while 98 percent of computer users agree that having up-to-date security software is important for system security, a significant number of the survey respondents had computers with security software that was incomplete, or dangerously out of date.
Highlights of the survey:
Ninety-two percent of those surveyed believed their anti-virus software was up to date, but in fact, only 51 % had updated their anti-virus software within the previous week.
Seventy-three percent of those surveyed believed they had a firewall installed and enabled, yet only 64 % actually did.
Approximately 70 % of PC users believed they had anti-spyware software, but only 55 % actually had it installed.
Twenty five percent of survey participants believed they had anti-phishing software, but only 12 % actually had the software.
Where do you fit in all this?
Most of us now store a large volume of confidential personal information on our home computers, including information concerning our personal finances, taxes, health, and perhaps personal documentation of other types.
So, it may well be that we need to take the time to survey our computers to insure that all relevant security applications have been installed, are up to date, and are operating correctly.
One of the better applications that will produce a survey of your computer is Belarc Advisor which can be reviewed and downloaded, if you choose, from this Blog. As well, consider downloading and installing Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) which constantly monitors your system for insecure software installations, and notifies you when an insecure application is installed.
If you need to update, or add, additional security applications to your computer, then checkout The Best Free Spyware, Virus and Browser Protection, on this site for reviews and free security application downloads.