Tag Archives: ZoneAlarm Firewall

An Anti-malware Test – Common Sense Wins

image I’ve just finished an anti-malware test that lasted for just over a year. For this test, I took a test machine, running Windows XP Professional, which I did not shut down, or reboot, for 373 days.

For 373 days, the machine was continuously wired to the Internet and each day, was used for active surfing and general computer use, including email, downloading applications, and so on.

During the test period, the installed anti-malware applications were patched and updated, as was the operating system. Common sense; right?

However, I did not run a single anti-malware scan of any description, since not doing so, was part of the objective of the test.

The overall purpose of the test was to determine if common sense plays a role in protecting a computer user against viruses, adware, spyware, hackers, spam,  phishing, and other Internet frauds.

Let me be clear, this test is in no way scientific, but instead, is a rather simple test on the importance of common sense in using a computer attached to the Internet.

Installed Anti-malware applications:

ZoneAlarm Firewall (free edition)

Spyware Terminator (free edition)

Avira Antivirus (free edition)

ThreatFire (free edition)

SnoopFree Privacy Shield (freeware)

WinPatrol (free edition)

Firefox – not strictly an anti-malware application, but…..

WOT

During this very extensive test run, the machine showed no indication of a malware infection; at least by normal observation (since I didn’t run any scans), – no system slowdown; no unusual disk use; no unusual Internet activity; no security application warnings.

In addition to practicing common sense in terms of not visiting the class of web sites that are known to be dangerous – porn sites; salacious news site; Facebook; MySpace; and so on, I absolutely adhered to the following.

I did not:

Download files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.

Click links in instant messaging (IM) that had no context, or were composed of only general text.

Download executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site was reputable.

Open email, or email attachments, from unknown people.

Open email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.

Open email attachments that ended in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.

Visit any site not shown as safe by WOT.

After 373 days (the end of the test period), I then ran multiple scans using the onboard security applications. The end result – not a single incidence of infection, malware, or an unwanted application.

It’s clear, at least to me, that by using common sense and updating both applications and the operating system, not visiting the class of web sites known to be unsafe, not clicking haphazardly and opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous, and being aware of the hidden dangers on the Internet, the dividends were measurable.

This was a long boring test, but it proved to me, that using common sense reduces the substantial risks we all face while surfing the Internet, regardless of the antispyware, antivirus, and the other Internet security applications installed.

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