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Is there such a thing as too much computer security?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 13, 2010 7:22 AM PDT

Is there such a thing as too much computer security?

Is there such a thing as too much security? I have been reading and hearing about the latest Black Hat Technical security and Defcon hacking conferences in Las Vegas, and the threats to my online life, savings, and credit accounts. I'm suddenly looking into encryption software to keep myself "safe." Is it really necessary? Are my "normal" security methods not enough? (firewall, antivirus, anti-malware suite, etc).

Submitted by: Dave G.

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

No such thing as too secure, but... --Submitted by Acaykath

Too much security? --Submitted by Zouch

Diversify across security classes, but not so much within --Submitted by davidldawson

Main threat - user himself --Submitted by kilhan

Too much for who? --Submitted by pillbox1911

Thank you to all who contributed!

If you have any additional recommendations or suggestions for Dave, please click the reply link and submit it. When providing a solution, please be as detailed as possible in your submission. Thanks!
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Too much security
by Browniesdad / August 13, 2010 10:20 AM PDT

I can only offer that you don't double up on programs, running two of the same type at the same time can cause you problems. Some security programs look at others as if they were a virus and can hang you up.
Otherwise I am not an expert but I find that by keeping my security updated I have done well. You get what you pay for with free programs.

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Just msse and the fire-wall and microsoft cli
by arwkoppen / September 4, 2010 5:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Too much security

microsft security essentials. And scan every incoming file. ♥ A

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Spyware, viruses, & security Forum

Yes, you can have too much security. Too much slows your PC down and some may not operate correctly with other programs. Be careful what you run together. It could lock your PC and/or cause a crash. You can also have too much garbage too. "AVG" is a good on to toss in the waste bin. Don't waste your time. There far superior ones much better and less to worry about. Trust me on this one, "I have been on the internet since Windows-95 was the hottest thing around." I know of many things you can run and just because something is free don't be too hasty or too quick in judging some of them. There really are some good free programs out there. (Except junk like avg).

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AVG??? Really???
by charleswsheets / August 13, 2010 12:09 PM PDT

I suppose that's why it's been CNET's number one download for the past three years. It might be more helpful if you recommended a program that worked better at blocking viruses instead of bashing the industry leader.

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AVG really is junk...
by darrenforster99 / August 13, 2010 6:02 PM PDT
In reply to: AVG??? Really???

I totally agree with the first poster on AVG being junk.

As for it being the industry leader, where do you get your information from? If you do a search on Google for best free anti-virus you'll find numerous websites that constantly list AVG quite low down, especially for detection, with others like Avast and Avira.

I have known a few viruses to get round AVG, the worst one being when the fake anti-virus software got round it, although I also have seen Avast! miss that one too, usually you can't beat a paid for anti-virus software though, I use ESET Smart Security.

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by robert1 / August 14, 2010 1:26 AM PDT
In reply to: AVG really is junk...


Viruses getting around paid programs happens too.

I've used paid Panda, Symantics and Macafee programs that didn't remove what AVG found and removed.

I've used AVG for a long time.

I've had good success even with their free program.

For now I am using their paid integrated firewall, etc. program
because I couldn't get the free version of zone alarm to work with
Vista on my new computer when the trial version of Macafee that came with my computer ran out.

Perhaps there are better paid programs...

But from what I tried...

AVG has been a great program that has detected many a virus, trojan, etc. before it had a chance to load onto my computer.

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AVG sucks...
by DJ SNT / September 3, 2010 11:11 AM PDT
In reply to: :))

I also agree with first poster...

I used AVG for more than a year in two or more computers and it never found anything.. and the few times it did it could remove it.. neither in WinXP, Vista or Seven... Now I'm using Comodo with it's own firewall. and I'm quite satisfied. It can control registry entries, changes, autoruns, it has a sandbox...

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AVG is bad?
by cro409 / September 4, 2010 2:55 AM PDT
In reply to: :))

I guess it largely depends on what sites you visit, but I have never had a problem with AVG Free.
I even go on sites that I wouldn't risk going on with any of my friend's computers, and I do so with no fear. When I do a scan, I rarely get any results but that may be because there is no viruses, or AVG blocked them from even getting in. I'm no anti-virus professional, by any means, but I have never had performance issues, and never had a security issue with any accounts. I actually can't remember getting a destructive virus since XP.
But my personal favorite reason is that my computer doesn't take an extra minute or two to boot waiting for the loading screen of McAfee to go away. Also, it can be deleted at any time and I don't have to go through extra hoops to uninstall, like in Norton.
I'm not saying AVG is the best, or that the other suggestions aren't worth it, but I do want to defend AVG, and make sure that people know it does work for others.

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Friends don't let friend do AVG...
by JCitizen / September 4, 2010 9:48 AM PDT
In reply to: AVG is bad?

I can't count the clients who have been hosed using it. And I'm talking about the newest version!

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I too have had this problem
by bowacl / September 4, 2010 10:04 AM PDT

on two clients computers where AVG let 2009 and then 2010 Anti Virus disable it and run full a muck. Left for to long and it slows the computer down to not even showing desktop back ground or icons. Cleaned both with MS Security Essentials.

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I hear ya!!...(nt)
by JCitizen / September 4, 2010 10:14 AM PDT


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You can't beat a pay for antivirus?
by steviesteveo / September 3, 2010 2:03 PM PDT
In reply to: AVG really is junk...

One problem with the internet is you can never take someone telling you to buy something for granted. You can never know if someone has a financial link to the anti-virus that they're saying you should you buy.

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Perhaps the best answer to security problems on a PC?
by bigmamou / September 4, 2010 7:46 AM PDT

After years of too much worry about virii and dealing with security programs for my PC I stumbled on what I think is a very good solution. Find a local ISP that offers postini as part of it's service package and either use their internet services or just buy their email service if you don't want to switch your internet provider. I use such a local service (email service only) with postini and I haven't had an infection in the 7 years I've used them. I have no virus program on my PC because postini catches EVERYTHING at the ISP server where I can go look at what it is. VERY effective and reasonably priced - $5 a month for a 1000mb email cache. And a bonus is that my PC runs fast and flawlessly for the lack of security programs!

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@by bigmamou - 9/4/10 2:46 PM

Oh my lord. You would be surprised what might just be lurking inside your machine. I have the same thing and what the ISP is providing is at the very least minimal protection. You might to have your machine checked, I will bet you it has issues.

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Is there such a thing as too much computer security?
by bazbean / August 13, 2010 10:23 AM PDT

Unfortunately, there are so many threats every time that you access the web that every best available protection that you can afford is the norm that should apply.
I personally run Avast AV Pro,Malwarebytes, Spyware Doctor & PC Tools firewall & Key Scrambler as my front line protection. I think that key scrambler is very good as it effectively hides your keystrokes to the bad guys .I also have Spybot as a backup scanner ( I run it every so often to check things),as it is impossible for any program to find all the nasties.The Tea Timer function is also very useful.I use Firefox as my browser - it has a very good website rating add on called WOT, which warns when a site has been rated as dangerous or doubtful, just another little tool that can help security.
Encryption is certainly a great option for protecting sensitive data - Credit card details etc the things that are the most likely areas to give you a whole lot of grief.
The real key is awareness and vigilance in what you visit and never taking anything at face value - always check and ,if in doubt -DON'T!

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Two suggestions
by Dango517 / August 13, 2010 11:02 AM PDT

an ounce of prevention ...............

Use a site adviser like this:

(provided as an example, not a recommendation)

Use gift cards instead of regular revolving credit cards for online purchases. What the bad guys want is your "available balance" so keep it small, small, small.

Good luck

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Yes you can have too much secutity if ...
by vonheise / August 13, 2010 11:18 AM PDT

It slows down your computer to a crawl. Or you aren't processing Top Secret Items for the Government, (oh wait a minute, we have Wikileaks for that). Windows security has improved tremendously and Microsoft has a free set of "Security Essentials" which my son who is in graduate school in Computer Engineering uses. You can Google it to get the link to the free download. I personally use and prefer ESET Smart Security as I sometimes seem to find "risky" sights as I get a warning when anyone trys to put a trojan or virus on my comupter, however I have not had any actual problem, at least not since I have had ESET which has been over a year. It is not free. I would not suggest that one use encryption, unless it is required to treat your paranoia, or if you are in a business which a hacker may really want get into for a profit motive. Otherwise it just slows things down for overkill.

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Not really
by EricRyanJones / August 13, 2010 11:19 AM PDT

Imagine you were asking this question about anything other than computers. "Would you like to be more secure?" Of course you would. There are plenty of free ($0) ways to add security to your computing experience. What it comes down to is how much effort you want to spend and how annoyed you are willing to get. The more patience you have, the more secure you ought to make yourself. I personally don't have much time on my hands, between school and full-time work, to spend on troubleshooting. That equals the regular security that every Windows user should have, and it works for me; I haven't had a virus on my computer since I got it two years ago. I can still admit that I would like it to be more secure, and if I had the time to spend I would do things like VPN when I'm at a hotspot or set up a proxy. In essence it's up to you.

Note: more security does NOT mean more than one antivirus application. Two of those is like two condoms: less effective than one.

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by purpledog2000 / August 13, 2010 11:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Not really

I have fixed many a computer by turning off redundant anti-virus and malware programs. I have seen some users have three or four real-time protections running. Select one good anti-virus/malware combo, set your firewall. Most importantly use good passwords! Stay away from dark alleys and you will be OK. I would run one such as Norton/Symantec$ or Microsoft Security Essentials (free). If you are going to install additional progrmas like Malwarebytes, do not have them start automatically and do not run them real-time protection. You can use redundant programs as you feel needed or scan on a schedule.

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Is There Too Much Security?
by heatherstub7 / August 13, 2010 11:38 AM PDT

It sounds like you have enough, but you might also want to use a different web browser such as Firefox. They have a program called "No Script" which I like, because it really keeps out hackers who want to invade your material. It's also a great browser for blind people. Hope that Helps. Heather

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by GMB14 / August 13, 2010 11:43 AM PDT

Ok, maybe.

There's always a trade off between security and usability. You could create the most secure computer in the world, but you wouldn't want to use it. For one, it wouldn't have an internet connection, because the only way to stay perfectly secure is to disconnect. For two, you'd never be able to get anything done because you would be too busy responding to security software asking if you want to grant permission for an application to do something, like open a file.

Be smart. That's the best advice there is. You can (and should, and do) have a firewall, anti-malware, a couple of antivirus apps, and some milk, because it does a body good, but it will always be possible to circumvent those if you do dumb stuff, like not encrypting your wireless network, or using easy-to-guess passwords, like "password" and "admin". Don't download pictures of Anna Kournakova in a bikini from a Ukranian website. Don't include your checking account number in your chat handle. That sort of stuff.

Encryption is not a bad idea, but the trade offs of slower performance and larger file sizes have always inclined me to decide to have another margarita and not worry about it. I'm sure I will change my mind when my (solo) sex video is stolen or all my emails to that Nigerian prince about the money are posted in a public forum somewhere.

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Anna Kournakova?
by HomelessClarence / August 14, 2010 9:03 AM PDT
In reply to: No

I hate to say this, but Katy Perry hacks are more popular right now. One person I talked to said that the even the Lady Gaga stuff is going by the wayside.
Take heart, the Twilight hacks are now the rage (besides the usual Lottery, Male Enhancement, Porn, and Canadian Drugs) with a staggering 20% of the "Market".

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We can't read your small FONTS on cnet
by jimstell1 / August 13, 2010 12:10 PM PDT

All in our family have a VERY HARD TIME READING YOUR SMALL FONTS and we do not wish to keep changing our font settings in order to do so.Please HELP. Jim L. & Family

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Press CTRL and + on your web browser to increase font size..
by darrenforster99 / August 13, 2010 6:09 PM PDT

Most web browsers you can just press CTRL and + or CTRL and - to increase or decrease the font size.

Also some web browsers allow you to ignore the CSS on the current website and use your own fonts/font sizes for all websites, if the website is wrote well and disability aware (which I presume CNET certainly will be), then it should follow your CSS rules, not that of the websites.

Hope that helps.

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small fonts
by Chaldean2 / August 14, 2010 2:41 PM PDT

I believe most browsers today have hot keys to change font sizes "on the fly." With Firefox, hitting "Ctrl" and "+" makes the font larger, while "Ctrl" and "-" makes it smaller.

This applies only to the page you are on. Your next page showing will be the default font size.

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Use ctrl-mousewheel up ...
by Kees Bakker / August 14, 2010 9:54 PM PDT

to temporarily change the settings.


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Small fonts
by bigjohnl / September 3, 2010 11:15 AM PDT

If you read the Firefox and IE help files, you would know enough to press "CTRL plus the +" keys to increase the size.
Works better than fake Canadian viagra.

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Go Linux
by chuq00 / August 13, 2010 12:19 PM PDT

If you are so worried about security on your pc, then it is time to ditch Windows and go to Linux. It is much more secure, and virus free.
Windows assumes your are stupid,
Linux makes you prove it!

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Or, if you can't give up Windoze, go dual boot!
by beb_cnet / September 8, 2010 4:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Go Linux

I have a lot of S/W that I need Windoze to run, can't find good equivalents in Linux. So my solution was to setup all my PC's to dual boot with either Windoze or Ubuntu. My kids know that they are strictly to use Ubuntu for all internet access. I haven't had a single virus since doing this. One of my kids came to me one day to ask what the box was that popped up on his screen. It was Linux asking what the heck he wanted to do with this file that was trying to be installed. It was a website trying to install a Windows virus. I used to get horrible infections at least once a month. None of the free or paid antivirus tools out there can catch everything. I tried a lot of them and still got infections.

So yes, I agree with chuq00 - Go Linux! But if you have to, share the box with Windoze. Another option is virtualboxes, I just preferred the dual-boot route. Of course, you need to be a little more of an advanced user to get everything to work in Linux. Printers, print shares, networking, etc. may need a few tweaks to get everything working and you may need to learn a few Linux commands (command line) as well as vi (the built-in editor). But mostly, it does work right out of the box. I prefer Ubuntu to Fedora, Ubuntu was much cleaner out of the box.

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Okay... what is your favorite boot manager for that?...(nt)
by JCitizen / September 8, 2010 6:05 AM PDT


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