Update Mar 2020
Microsoft has changed the game completely with Windows 10. Microsoft have taken charge of keeping your PC up-to-date and free from “Malware”. Features built-in to the OS (Windows10) are awesome, check out “Windows Security”.
Firewall & Network protection,
App & browser control,
Device performance & health,
IMO, you don’t need any 3rd party Antivirus, Windows Security does it all and no one understands the OS like Microsoft. I still think that you should install Malwarebytes anti malware (MBAM) and run it on a regular basis, as a “belt n braces” approach to confirm Windows Security is doing it’s job but in my experience Windows Security is doing a Stirling job.
Update Aug 2016
This was prior to Windows 10, the game has now changed! Windows 10 is now the most secure OS that Microsoft have released and IMO, Windows Defender does a pretty good job but have a read anyway.
Why bother with securing your PC? That is a very good question! You are probably like me, you are a law abiding citizen and have nothing to hide. You are a productive and benevolent person that would be willing to help anyone in need and you think that most people are of a similar disposition. However, not all people are like us! There are lot of rogues that use the Internet purely for the purpose of causing mischeif and trying to profit from doing very little and they can do this without leaving the comfort of their armchair, to them Work is a four letter word!
Why should you install Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware programs? I suppose it is fair to say that the vendors of the Operating System (OS) e.g. “Windows”(TM) of your PC should make sure that it is secure! Well in principle they do – sort of but it’s a bit complicated. In principle the Vendors want to make the PC easy to use and security gets in the way. This is the same situation as the dreaded Health and Safety at work stuff – sometimes you have to comprise safety for usability and of course there are known and some not so known vulnerabilities that enable the rogues to profit. In some/most cases Malware is just a nuisance but in others your PC can be compromised and used as a “slave” to carry out mischief to other Internet users. At the other end of the scale, Malware can be used to steal your personal information e.g. Bank account details, Passwords and other personal details which could be used to “Steal your Identity” and if you are unlucky empty your bank account. Do you feel lucky?
Should you use a different Operating System (OS) to negate the need for Anti-Malware programs? That is a consideration but it would only reduce some of the risks. Have a look at the Free Self Defense page, this applies to whatever OS you want to use. Microsoft Windows(TM) is probably the most used OS and is probably the most attractive to rogues due to its popularity. The more recent versions of Windows(TM) are more secure than previous versions but again when people ignore the basic free self defense stuff, it’s an uphill struggle to keep your PC safe and secure. If you are new to using a computer, the alternative Operating systems might well appeal. The MAC OS and Linux Ubuntu in particular are superb and in some cases a little more secure but as their popularity increases, so does the attractiveness to rogues. The MAC OS is currently receiving a lot of attention from the rogues and they have been able to find a way to “infect” the OS with things like key loggers etc.
In summary, your choice of Operating System should be based on personal choice, ease of use etc and not on the implied security implications – whatever the OS, if it has a vulnerability someone will find it at some stage.
Am I paranoid? I think I probably am but I’ve been around computers for a long time and I know that the only secure computer is one that is powered off 🙂 The information / advice you find on these pages should help keep you and your PC safe when connected to the Internet but there are no guarantees. Your PC is tool, learn how to use it, learn how to keep yourself safe when you are exploring the World Wide Web. If nothing else, make it difficult for the rogues; make them have to Work for their money like you have to do.
Stay alert, keep safe.