Update: as of 11/10/09 leading security expert Bruce Schneier also recommends AVG and Malwarebytes.
We seem to be in the midst of one of those periodic malware epidemics. I’ve been hearing from other IT pros and savvy users that they’ve been seeing some nasty stuff lately. Now’s a good time to make sure your antivirus and spyware protection tools are up to date, and consider getting better ones. I’ve been doing this stuff professionally for about 10 years now, and the very best tools I’ve found at any price are, in fact, free.
Spybot used to be the king of free spyware removal tools. But it just hasn’t kept up with the times. Malwarebytes’ Antimalware is the best removal tool I’ve ever found. I’ve managed to save some systems that I was certain would have to be wiped and reloaded. I’d recommend downloading it and running it even if you don’t think you have any malware right now.
AVG Free Edition tops all the professional antivirus software I’ve ever used (and I’ve used AV products from Norton, CA, TrendMicro, and McAffee). Very little gets by it, and it has a relatively low CPU/memory overhead. Personal edition is free, but business users will have to pay (worth it, in my opinion). The free version has some limitations, but the next product seems to make up for it:
Windows Defender. Yes, a Microsoft Product. But this is as good as any active protection solution I’ve used, and better than most. This one’s free even for business use, as long as you have a legit copy of Windows. It’s not as good as Malewarebytes for removal, but excellent for protection.
The combination of AVG Free and Windows Defender has been remarkable for me over the years, and has been solid for all the friends I’ve setup with it as well – even relatively clueless users surfing unsavory sites.