The lowdown on antivirus software

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Line of defense

What is it? Antivirus software scans your system for various kinds of malware, such as viruses, Trojan horses and worms. The software can identify and isolate malware and often notify you of its presence.

What are the caveats The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that up-to-date software and periodic virus signature updates are all the protection you need. New attacks are generated daily, often hourly, and can run through thousands of computers around the world in minutes.

The only real defense is a defense in depth, starting with educating users about not opening e-mail attachments they weren't expecting.

What else should I look for? Stability in a company. Most antivirus programs work, but because of the surge in acquisitions, products available today might disappear completely by the end of the year. So buying a product from a small vendor might not be a good idea at this time.

Must-know info? Managers are in a Catch-22. You must update security software as often as possible to catch new threats, but updates have been known to introduce new vulnerabilities and even cause serious interference with such major applications as Microsoft Office.

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