One thing that many computer users agree with almost universally is that getting a computer virus really sucks. They slow down your computer, delete your data, steal your identity, and a variety of other problems. The ways one can acquire a computer virus can fill an entire column, but ultimately people care more about protecting themselves from these nasty infections. The only problem is that picking antivirus software is difficult. There are the free solutions and the paid solutions and often what you pay for is what you get in terms of protection. From experience the free AVG is trash compared to Kaspersky, but how then are some people able to get by on it perfectly fine? A lot of the time it depends on what you are doing, how well you take take of your computer, and where you are.
In terms of computing, an office is generally more secure than college campus, but less secure than an isolated home network. In terms of location, who is around you on your network can do a lot to make your computer insecure. On a home network it's generally locked down to the physical computers in your home and its okay to do things like share all your photos and home movies and documents with the world. At home the chance of virus protection from a strange computer is decreased. At an office you are generally more open to more computers interconnecting with your own machine, but you do want some files shared back and forth, printing sharing, and whatnot. At an university this network is expanded to connections and visibility with the entire college campus. With possibly thousands upon thousands of computers being on the same network as your precious computer.
The internet is like a super-global version of these networks and the good and bad that come with these connections are ever present. Like a home network, the internet is awesome for stuff like music (Pandora), home movies (Youtube) , photo sharing (Flickr), TV shows (Hulu), etc. I and many others believe this risk is worth it as shown by today's internet use compared to it in 1998. If we want to play in this playground, this downtown of culture, communication, and whatnot we have to realize that we have to extend our habits of daily life into this virtual world. In the real world we use common sense. If somebody on the street asks us to walk down an alleyway to win a free iPad we don't do it.
Today's antivirus protection has gotten a lot better, but ultimately it's like a cat and mouse game and that is why it is important to think about you do on the internet. From experience working in the computer industry, I have discovered that there are three big ways to avoid getting infected. First and foremost is downloading illegal files whether it is the new Green Day album or Finding Nemo. A lot of the time the files people download are infected, especially if it is something like a illegal copy of Photoshop. Secondly, adult websites are an easy way to get infected. More often than not, those computers I fix that are constantly coming in for virus removal we people who have a porn problem. It's apparently not the content that is the issue from what I've read, but that ads and other forms of social engineering. A lot of the time I have found that people whether it be their pornography or their Finding Nemo want their "fix". They don't see the ad that they are clicking or the confirmation message for the trojan horse that is coming along with that video-enabling software for their computer.
Ultimately, navigating today’s internet is about using the common sense that you use in real-life. If something seems sketchy then do not do it, it if seems too good do not click that link, if you do not really know if that is your friend emailing you I do not suggest opening that attachment. Its all about training yourself to think and read before you click that button. Using common use will not save you from all viruses because you will still want to get a competent virus protection, but regardless of what protection you have it will help you be more safe online.
Good Paid Antivirus Apps:
Kaspersky Internet Security 2011
Norton Internet Security 2011
Good Free Antivirus Apps:
Windows Security Essentials