Security Corner

Jan 19 2013   4:17PM GMT

Who really needs anti-virus software?

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Every list of best security practices contains an admonition to run anti-virus and/or anti-malware software. I have certainly been one to push such things over the years and have tested and recommended most of the popular contenders. But I got tired of the performance problems, the updates, the scans, the false positives and the generally intrusive nature of the stuff and opted to “run naked,” relying upon safe computing practices instead of a software overlord. I have no regrets and in four years have not had a single malware infection of any kind. I think that proves my point.

Can the average person get away with this? Probably not. But if one really understands the landscape of the internet and adheres to a few basic, common-sense security practices, chances are they’ll be safe. Here’s the configuration of my home system:

  • Windows XP, Service Pack 3 with Windows firewall enabled.
  • Linksys broadband wireless router with firewall features enabled and remote administration disabled.
  • WPA2 Personal with strong pass phrase for wireless access
  • Third-party spam filter on main email account (

Best practices I adhere to:

  • I do not click on any links in email, social media posts, etc. unless I examine exactly where it it taking me.
  • I do not download illegal copies of movies, music, books or anything else from torrents or P2P sites of any kind.
  • I test freeware apps in a sandbox before I allow them on my system.
  • I use super-strong passwords and manage them with LastPass.
  • I do not visit sites known to be harbors for malware.
  • When surfing in unknown territory, I disable all scripting.
  • My browser security settings are set to ask me before running any plugins.
  • I don’t use Adobe Reader, Flash must ask and Java is disabled.

What about you? Do you use AV software? What are your best practices. Hit the comments.

1  Comment on this Post

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  • TomLiotta
    In general, I agree. I ran for the past three years on Win2K with no AV installed. I'm active on the internet most of every day. I just replaced that older laptop with this one with WinXP and installed AVG out of habit. As long as it doesn't interfere significantly, I'll probably keep it. But safe practices are more important. -- Tom
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