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RISMEDIA, July 3, 2009-(MCT)-Q. How much security do I need? There are different software companies that offer “protection” for different costs. For example, Norton offers AntiVirus, Internet Security, and Norton 360. AntiVirus is the least expensive, and Norton 360 is the most expensive. Is this a case of you get what you pay for? Or could I have simply gone with AntiVirus?

A. “How much security do I need?” is a great question that is essentially unanswerable in the abstract, said Jeff Crume, an IT security expert and IBM distinguished engineer.

The amount of security you need depends on the value of the data you’re trying to protect, how vulnerable your system is to attack and, most important, your tolerance for risk.

Brands aside, a standalone antivirus product is not sufficient for most uses.
“That would be analogous to having only a hammer in your toolbox, which only works if every problem you face involves nails,” he said.

In addition to a full-fledged antivirus scanner, you need a personal firewall and spyware scanner, at a minimum. Some security suites include all of these but in stripped-down versions, which Crume would not recommend.

“Others throw in all the tools plus the kitchen sink, which may only introduce more problems down the road,” Crume said.

The best approach, he suggested, is to make sure you are getting full-strength security tools, and skip some of the less useful add-ons if the installation process will allow that level of flexibility.

One option you may want to look at is Microsoft Morro, the software giant’s new, free security package, which it soon will be releasing as a beta, or draft, version for public consumption and experimentation.

The software will provide protection from malware, including viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans.

Rootkits were a new term for me. According to, a rootkit is a malicious program designed to take control of an IT system or personal computer.

Microsoft says that its new solution was designed to use fewer computing resources, making it workable for systems with low bandwidth or for less-powerful PCs.

You may notice that Morro provides the antivirus and spyware protection that Crume suggests, but not the firewall.

The Windows operating system actually includes a firewall, but geeks recommend using a product such as ZoneAlarm instead. Get it for free at CNET’s
© 2009, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.