the short answer to your question is "No, you absolutely cannot depend on Windows Live Onecare to protect your PC!" Look up the archives and blogs in CNET, Techrepublic, ZDNet, etc., and you will find several articles covering security exposures not picked up by Onecare. You will also find an informative article entitled "When is a firewall not a firewall? Answer - when it's Windows Vista firewall." and XP firewall is even worse, with no pretence to be two way. My advice to you is to uninstall Onecare and get some real protection. The one exception in their package is Windows Defender, the spyware scanner. This was originally written by Giant Software and was a very good product then. Microsoft inherited this quality when they bought the company. It does, perhaps unsurprisingly, ignore Microsoft products that might be regarded as spyware, such as Windows Genuine Advantage, etc. But definitely worth keeping.
My personal preference is ZoneAlarm Security Suite Version 7, about US $70 or so - see <www.zonelabs.com> where there is presently a $20 off special offer. Version 7 has only been released a little over a month, it's big advantage over Version 6 is that the previous anti-virus element from CA has been replaced with Kaspersky based anti-virus engine, generally regarded as the "Gold Standard" among anti-virus products. The VET definitions update every hour, on the hour, so you are always up to date. The only (minor) downside is that the weekly scheduled deep scan takes much longer than its predecessor, my 1.5 GHz Centrino laptop with an 80 GB HDD takes about 4 hours to scan. It does this in the background, so you can work alongside it, though disk access performance is impacted. Apart from the deep scan, the overhead on the system is minimal, much less than McAfee or Norton, for example. There is an industry strength anti-spyware element, along with anti-phishing protection and email and identity protection, as well as the strongest personal firewall around.
If you want to check it out, they offer a free 15 day evaluation, though the usefulness might be limited by its auto-learn mode. I don't think the evaluation version comes out of auto-learn mode. Essentially, the firewall has a "database" of known "good" and "bad" programs and on initial installation, it uses this database to "learn" your computer usage and set appropriate permissions. During this time, it operates in medium security mode. If you know what you want, you can override this to set your own level of protection. After 7-21 days, when it thinks it "knows" your usage pattern, it switches to Stealth mode and tightens the security settings.
There are other popular personal firewalls and integrated packages but I've never used them and I'm sure other members will explain what they do and what their benefits are.
McAfee and Norton also offer integrated suites and while they are more comprehensive than Onecare, they, particularly McAfee, are rather heavy on system resources.
If you prefer to use a cheaper solution, you can achieve a secure environment with free products, though they won't be an integrated suite. It can be argued that, in this way, you are getting the best of all worlds by mixing and matching the best individual products. If you want to try this approach, I'd suggest ZoneAlarm V7 Free Firewall, AVG or Avast anti-virus and Windows Defender active spyware scanner, with Ad-aware SE for weekly deep scans. Again, this is a personal preference and other contributors will have their own favourites.
Your second question, should you get rid of all your other spyware scanners, I'd say absolutely not. It's a well known characteristic of spyware that no one product finds all infections. You probably want only one active scanner but keep the others, or at least Ad-aware and Spybot S&D, for weekly scans. Spysweeper is an excellent product also but isn't free.
In summary, there is no such thing as a 100% secure economic consumer PC but with the with a suitable selection of the products available, you can build a sufficiently strong security fence to deter the ne'er-do-wells and persuade them to go play elsewhere. But don't forget your regular backups for your ultimate protection.
Submitted by: Sav. M. of the United Kingdom
Windows Live OneCare is just a minimal protection according to many analysts. Some do say that you may actually be better without it as it can lead you to a false sense of security.
Yes, you definitively still need your familiar set of protective programs and utilities. Start by a good firewall offering both inbound AND outbound filtering, if it also offers compartmental and change monitoring, all the better. There are some very good to excellent FREE offerings out there. Personally, I use Kerio personal firewall, free for personal domestic use (with periodic nags). That's your second line of defense, the first one been a healthy dose of paranoia and some common sense.
Your next line of defense is a good antivirus. Chose one that offers frequent definitions updates, daily if possible. Grisoft's AVG free happens to fill that spot very nicely.
Next, you need to protect yourself against spywares, adwares and various other pests. Those that you mentioned are real good at that task.
Personally, I would stay clear of those "all-in-one" solutions. WHY? If there is a breach affecting one component, it may well affect ALL individual components, leaving you completely defenseless. When you use individual applications from different developers, they all use different technology. If there is a flaw in one of them, it's extremely unlikely that it could also affect any one other application, leaving you with a shaken, but still mostly functional, security net. Also, those all-in-one will usually cost much more. Finally, you can build, for completely FREE, a better all around fortification for your computer that what you can buy from most leading security firms.
You can add another layer of protection: use a wired router between your computer and your modem. Any decent router comes with an integrated, hardware, inbound firewall, and good ones operate in stealth mode: all 65536 of your ports are acting as black holes to probes. A passing hacker won't see your computer(s) behind the router, and may not even be able to see that there is anything there if you have stealth mode.
Another good practice, is to put downloaded files in a quarantine folder for a few day. This way, if the file contains some brand new nasty code, you give time for your antivirus to receive the appropriate signature file and detect the threat.
Submitted by: Alain
Safety in numbers
I doubt if there will ever be a true all in one solution to the activities of online criminals and wreckers. Although some of the packages available are fairly comprehensive in nature, the task of meeting so many and varied threats is, in my opinion, best met by a number of separate defences. Personally I use Norton, Defender, SpyBot and a couple of others on a routine basis. I also like to keep an eye on the 'defence scene' through various sites including CNet. I believe that, provided you take sensible precautions, there's no need to get too paranoid about the dark side but I would also caution against an all eggs in one basket situation.
Submitted by: Peter C.
James - I started using WindowsLiveOneCare when it was still in beta. When Microsoft finally offered the finished product for a reduced price of $19.95 to the beta testers I bought it. What I liked most about the OneCare was the back-up feature. There are a lot of anti-virus and anti-spyware programs out there but I am not aware of them offering this feature. Not long after I purchased OneCare an icon in my taskbar came on saying that my firewall wasn't connected. I went to security and checked and the firewall was on. I couldn't get the icon to go away either. It was always flashing a red alert. The update feature also stopped working right. I contacted Microsoft support and they were very supportive but nothing they suggested I try worked. After uninstalling and reinstalling four times I gave up. Too bad, it wasn't a bad program when it was working. I do think there are a lot better anti-virus and anti-spyware programs available. And some of the best are free. After trying Norton, AVG, Ashampoo anti-virus, The Shield, and a couple of others, I now have Avast! on my computer. It is free and the best I have tried. It found a couple of Trojans in my system restore that no other program had found. It also found some malware that was missed by these programs.
You can never be too safe. Even if you have the OneCare I would suggest you back it up with a few others. I have ZoneAlarm Pro firewall (although you can get it free and it is great), spywareblaster, Ad-Aware SE, WinPatrol (great little program that is offered free), and Trend Micro Anti-spyware on my computer right now. I have used the Windows Defender and it is a good program but with my WinPatrol I didn't need it. I have also used the Spybot Search and Destroy another good program. After trying a lot of different programs I have settled on the ones I now have because they do a great job and none of them bog down my computer. I have also found that these products have a good support system which is important to me. Good luck.
Submitted by: Anita T.
Concerning the all-in-one protection for PC:
From my use of Windows Live security suite, I found it to be lightweight in its results. I was able to go back with other applications and find a great deal overlooked and left behind in my PC. It is best to not run a variety of the same type of security app - they will compete with each other potentially cancelling their effectiveness, or even locking up.
For over two years I have been running ZoneAlarm (the free version), Computer Associates EZ Anti-virus and System Mechanic. I am constantly on the Internet using a broadband connection with many online services for my business including banking. I buy, sell and shop regularly on the Net, along with downloading free apps, articles and more.
Once set up, these three tools are relatively easy to use and maintain. I have had no security problems at all. My e-mail delivers directly through Outlook Express, and CA EZ Anti-virus zaps anything that tries to get in (usually their first year of service is free). Get the EZ Anti-virus, not the security suite. Get the ZoneAlarm free, I bought the full firewall package - but uninstalled it and went back to the free version due to restriction hassles. Initially you have to respond to a lot of alerts for your applications that require Internet access, but that will soon subside once you have checked and allowed them access. After you get ZoneAlarm, you will likely be offered a discount on purchasing System Mechanic - which I use for their anti-spyware; registry back-up & defrag; system file & Internet privacy clean-up; and system memory optimization. Stay away from the automated clean up and optimization functions on the main screen (I have repeatedly had them 'clean up' important settings files and preferences for some of my applications). There are a few initial set up details to keep things simple, and to minimize these apps running in the background and trying to 'phone home'.
I use graphic development software, music studio software and web design applications that require my memory to be free. Most security applications (like Norton) tie into too much of your system and slow everything down. These three apps have afforded me the best use of my system's memory while giving me a secure, clean, fast PC environment for on and off the Net.
Just for the record, I am a relatively lazy person who looks for the easiest way to get something done effectively; hate conundrums with my software; and rely heavily upon my applications to get my work done for me. I don't like fiddling with tools anymore than I have to. These apps listed above have worked well, keeping my PC life safe and simple.
Submitted by: GC