One of the reasons that “Jane” (not her real name) was impacted by a pop-up on her computer and became the victim of identity theft is that her computer security was inadequate. Here are some programs that you absolutely must get in order to stand a fighting chance against identity theft.

Fighting Identity Theft:

Antivirus Programs

microsoft-security-essentialsIf you are still using Windows Vista or Windows 7, you absolutely need an antivirus program installed to secure your computer and protect against identity theft.  For minimal, basic protection Microsoft Security Essentials is free and should be set up on your computer.  If you don’t want to spend anything on antivirus protection, AVG  and Avast are two other free antivirus programs that are a step up from Microsoft Security Essentials.

Remember that only one antivirus program should be installed on a computer. With two or more programs installed your computer’s performance plummets as the two programs attempt to use the same resources for a job intended for only one.

If you are willing to spend a little money ($20 – $60 per year) you’ll find more comprehensive, more automated protection using good consumer antivirus programs. There are a lot of good choices available, including from:
•    Norton
•    McAfee
•    Trend Micro
•    Webroot
•    BitDefender
•    Kaspersky

Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10 have basic built-in security with Microsoft’s Defender. But we recommend upping the ante by replacing Defender with a third-party antivirus product from one of the companies above for better protection.

Many of these companies also have good antivirus protection software for Macs as well. And yes, Macs do need some type of antivirus protection. While they can’t be infected to the same extent as Windows computers, they can still be infected. The best free product for the Mac is made by Sophos.

Antimalware Programs

While only one antivirus program should be installed on a computer, an antimalware program or two can be run in addition to an antivirus program.  Bergen IT recommends doing this for maximum protection.

Malware generally performs the same functions as a virus – meaning that it attempts to steal information, or damage files or a computer’s operating system. The biggest difference is that malware cannot replicate itself the way a virus can, and so doesn’t spread on its own. But the damage malware inflicts can be just as severe. Adding antimalware protection programs to your computer will catch infections that antivirus programs miss.

Two good antimalware programs that we highly recommend are Malwarebytes and Superantispyware.  You can use either their free versions (which can be run manually) or their paid versions (which include automation for updates and scans).

SuperantispywareMalwarebytes Logo

Removing Infections

If you think your computer is infected (there are an increasing number of pop-ups, for example), take these steps:

1.    Open your antivirus program, make sure it’s up-to-date, and run a full scan.  If any infections are found, be sure they are removed.

2.    Open an antimalware program, update it, and run a full scan.  If any more infections are found, remove all of them.

3.    If things are still not right, call your local trusted computer specialist to check out your computer.  They will have more sophisticated tools to weed out infections that are difficult to find and eliminate.

So how did Jane’s problems get resolved? Find out in Identity Theft: Who Do you Trust?


Do you need help securing and protecting your computer?

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