Computer security software nets $2.6 Billion over last two years.



SecurityFix is talking about the computer security industry. Further, computer users spend $9 billion a year on computers repairs from spyware and antivirus. This reminds me of a recent story of a man that threw out a perfectly good machine because it was infested with spyware. For starters, I do computer repair. I charge $40/ hour and even at that rate I’ve had people balk at 3-4 hours of heavy cleaning versus the Dell ads. How many people take this route instead of repairs? It’s hard to say overall. In his blog, Brian Krebs lays part of the blame at Microsoft’s door and I think rightly so.


I remember when I first got a cable modem I was of course excited about the speed boost (this was probably 5-6 years ago now. I was running Windows 98 and within a week of the initial connection I had my first virus. I had never fallen for email viruses (virii ?) before and didn’t know how I got it. I started researching it and discovered that it was a network worm. The only place it could be from was the new connection to cable. It was then that I really started paying attention to computer security. I initially bought blackice firewall and later moved to zonealarm. At that time my desktop was the internet gateway for the other computers in the house. Later I moved to a mandrake linux firewall (single network firewall), which I replaced for a time with a netgear firewall/router (which froze up under heavy worm traffic), then back to mandrake for the multi network firewall (mnf). I still use that product for my home firewall.

Somewhere along the line I made the switch to linux though. Sometime before adware and spyware became the pest it is on the windows platform. Is linux impervious no, but the environment is a bit more restrictive in some areas (requires administrator password to install software.) In the Securityfix, Brian mentions something I’ve written about before that the weakest link in computer security is the user. He is spot on in this area.

For anybody position of wanting to get rid of a PC because it’s infested you might consider having someone help you with a desktop linux instead. Let’s face it, if you’ve infected one machine with adware/spyware and viruses you’ll likely infect a brand new windows install just the same. If you’re intent to toss out the machine there are plenty of ways to wipe it clean and start over with Windows or anything else with a clean slate. One way to try it out is to see if someone could help you with a linux boot cd. Most techs that I know of that are familiar enough to have used linux or a bsd are MORE than happy to introduce a newcomer to how you browse the web or how you write letters under linux.

What’s the pricetag for linux, typically nothing. (Some distributions will sell an official desktop version for $50-$60). Support costs, it depends. I charge the same for Linux support as I do for Windows support. I know some that are enthused enough about linux (linux user groups) that might be willing to help get you started for free. There is also a ton of support information online for those that can search it out. There are a lot of possibilities out there.

Some linux distributions to consider Xandros, Linspire, Mandriva. Beyond that if someone can help with a good boot cd that can serve as a test to make sure your hardware will work and give you an introduction to the amazing variety of software available.

Oh, and do I have antivirus installed? Not on my linux desktop, but I do on my mailserver. It’s clamav and it’s open source (freely available.)

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