Trend Micro TitaniumA few days ago we used the computer at a first class hotel and found out later that spam had been sent out in our name. Of course we wonder what other information they collected from our online use.

This is pretty scary, since it means there was malware on the computer in the hotel’s “business center” and that a program had intercepted our emails. And believe us, this was a hotel that considered itself five-star.  We are going to bring our laptop if we stay there again, with all the latest security updates on it.

Free programs are the most popular security apps. Avast leads the way, followed by Avira Anti-Virus, AVG and Microsoft’s Security Essentials. We use Avast Anti-Virus (Avast.com) and an anti-spyware program called Anti-Malware, from Malwarebytes.org.

What the free programs have in common is that they’re fast and light and don’t bog down your computer. The paid versions have advantages. We upgraded to the paid versions of Avast and Anti-Malware to get more protection. Rather than having a problem cleared up after it strikes, the paid versions protect you in advance.

You can get even more protection from so-called Internet suites, but you risk slowing things down. For example, Bob will never again install any program from Symantec. TrendMicro has some new products that use very few system resources and add some useful features. In the $40 version you get all the usual anti-virus and anti-spyware stuff, plus protection against malicious links in email and instant messages. It has the advantage of storing its database of protection routines online rather than on your computer; this keeps it light and tight. The pro version is $60 and adds a file shedder, a system tuner, identity theft protection and other tools.  The Mac version is called “Smart Surfing.” Click “home and office” at trendmicro.com to see a link to free trials.

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