Security

Review: Comodo Internet Security 4.0

Comodo Internet Security 4.0 secures your computer from Internet threats with a firewall, anti-virus protection and advanced intrusion prevention.

Comodo Internet Security secures your computer from Internet threats with a firewall, anti-virus protection and advanced intrusion prevention. CIS 4.0 is as simple or sophisticated to use as you want it to be.

Specifications

  • Developer: Comodo
  • File size: 2.7MB for installer plus 132.3MB for livePCsupport, anti-virus and firewall installation files and anti-virus database.
  • Prerequisites: Internet Explorer 5.1 or higher. livePCsupport requires the livePCSupport option to be installed.
  • Hardware Requirements: 128MB available RAM and 210MB disk space
  • Operating system: 32 or 64-bit versions of Windows XP (SP2), Windows Vista or Windows 7
  • Price: Free
  • More Info: Comodo Home Page
  • Download: CIS 4.0 Download
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

CIS 4.0 is for anyone looking for a better firewall than Windows Firewall and additional security in one comprehensive software solution.

What problem does it solve?

CIS 4.0 provides functionality not found in Windows Firewall plus anti-virus protection and advanced threat detection not included with Windows but so essential for any computer connected to the Internet.

Standout features

  • Well organized GUI: The screens are organized into five categories:
    • Summary: CIS operational status, settings and user required actions
    • Antivirus: Eight common tasks for running scans, updating virus database, etc.
    • Firewall: Nine common and advanced firewall tasks
    • Defense+: Sixteen common, sandbox and advanced Defense+ tasks
    • More...: Seven additional tasks including access to the help file
  • Best of class firewall protection: Previous versions have been ranked among the best of any software based firewall to prevent both inbound and outbound threats according to matousec.com and ConsumerSearch. CNET editors ranked CIS 3.14 five stars.
  • Simple to use settings: Simple slider-bars are used to configure user settings. They can be found at:
    • Antivirus | Scanner Settings
    • Firewall | Advanced | Firewall Behavior Settings
    • Defense+ | Sandbox | Sandbox Settings
    • Defense+ | Advanced | Image Execution Control Settings
    • Defense+ | Advanced | Defense+ Settings
    • The real-time virus scanner settings and the firewall settings can also be accessed from the Summary screen.
  • User customizable settings: Virtually all functionality can be customized to fit your personal needs.
  • Predefined firewall policies: Allows quick implementation of commonly used security policies.
  • Custom firewall policies: Advanced users can relatively easily create their own firewall policies.
  • Stealth mode: Hides your PC from port scans.
  • View active connections: Lists details of all active Internet connections.
  • Sandbox: Isolates unknown or non-trusted apps and reduces the risk of malicious behavior.
  • Fast Anti-virus scanning: A total scan of my system using default settings took only 20:05 minutes and scanned a total of 401,148 objects. (See What's wrong? below)
  • Real-time on demand virus protection: Applications are scanned on launch.
  • Manual and scheduled virus scanning: Perform scans manually and/or on a schedule. By default, full system anti-virus scanning is scheduled to run weekly.
  • Buffer Overflow Protection: Prevents malware from crashing the OS due to a buffer overflow attack.
  • Virus definition file available via download: It's not readily accessible but there is a way for users with a slow Internet connection to download the virus definition file.
  • Defense+ - Advanced intrusion detection incorporating white-listing, a Host Intrusion Protection System, and auto-sandboxing. Unknown or untrusted applications are automatically moved to the sandbox where they can be run with limited privileges, greatly reducing any potential damage.
  • Comodo Safe-List database: More than fifteen million safe applications are listed and allowed to run without user intervention.
  • Submit Suspicious Files: If you are suspicious of a file you can submit it to Comodo for analysis and possible inclusion in the Safe-List database.
  • Event Logging: Troubleshoot using logged activity generated events.
  • Diagnostics: If CIS is not performing properly you can run self-diagnostics to determine what is wrong.
  • Help File: The help file is hidden away under More... | Help but is excellent and very thorough with plenty of screenshots. I strongly recommend you browse through the help file if you have never used CIS. If you prefer, you can access the CIS Users Manual (6.9MB PDF) online.
  • Online help: The Get Live Support option available on most screens can be used for general questions but the wait times can be long. A livePCsupport subscription-based ID is required for other questions. You may be able to try livePCsupport free for 30 days by signing up for the free 30 day trial of Comodo Internet Security Pro 4.0, which includes livePCsupport.
  • Secure DNS service (optional): Uses a real-time block list to warn you of dangerous sites before you visit them. Comodo claims the service is a reliable, faster, smarter and safer Internet experience.
  • Threatcast Community (optional): Collects how you respond to alerts and gives you access to information how others responded in a bar chart format but I found a problem. (See What's wrong? below)
  • Freeware: CIS 4.0 is free for both personal and business use.

What's wrong?

  • Anti-Virus protection: The anti-virus scanner identified a number of possible threats not found in avast! that may be false positives. According to Virus.gr, Comodo scores comparability to other free anti-virus software like avast! and AVG.
  • Files greater than 20MB not scanned: By default, files larger than 20MB are not scanned when an anti-virus scan is performed. This can be modified by changing the numeric value in Antivirus | Scanner Settings | Real Time Scanning, Manual Scanning and Scheduled Scanning tabs Do not scan files larger than options. According to Comodo, only 0.00004% of known threats in their database are files larger than 20MB.
  • Possible problem scanning large compressed files: Raising the file size value to include larger files may cause the computer to lock up. Here are the test results:
  • Primary Computer (2GB)
    • Changed the Antivirus | Scanner Settings | Real Time Scanning, Manual Scanning and Scheduled Scanning tabs Do not scan files larger than options to 999999
    • Ran a scan of the Docs logical drive and the computer locked up.
  • Test Computer (4GB)
    • Changed the Antivirus | Scanner Settings | Real Time Scanning, Manual Scanning and Scheduled Scanning tabs Do not scan files larger than options to 999999 - ran a scan of the Docs logical drive and the scan completed successfully.
    • Removed 2GB of system memory - ran a scan of the Docs logical drive again and the computer locked up.
    • Reinstalled the 2GB of system memory - ran a scan of the Docs logical drive a third time and the scan completed successfully.
  • Threatcast tab missing: When an alert pops up the Threatcast tab is missing even if though I joined the Threatcast Community during installation.
  • Alerts: The Anti-virus, Firewall and Defense+ components use alerts to warn of a potentially harmful action. Users may not know when to accept or block the action though there is some guidance. The Threatcast Feature (optional) can be helpful to decide how to respond to an alert but it was missing.
  • Installer not Dial-up friendly: Downloading on dial-up at 31.2Kbps the installer failed with a timeout error but succeeded at 45.2Kbps. Downloading CIS 4.0 using the cisfree_installer.exe installer via dial-up is very difficult if not impossible. I can share several tips how it might be done if you but ask in the forum.
  • Installer does not support broken files: When the Internet connection is dropped the installer does not pick up where it left off but restarts the download of the file from the beginning. If the installer is restarted it will attempt to download all files whether they have been successfully downloaded previously or not.
  • Submission of all files in drive/folder fails: Selecting a folder in Antivirus | Submit Files fails with Compression error.
  • Limited language support: English, Russian and Chinese only. According to Comodo, more language support is coming soon.
  • Installing from the CIS_Setup.msi file does not incorporate anti-virus database: If you select Do not install the packages after download check box using the cisfree_installer.exe file, the virus definitions are not loaded or recognized.
  • Two EULAs: There are two different EULAs, one in the cisfree_installer.exe file and one in the CIS_Setup.msi file. The EULA found in the CIS_Setup.msi file is lengthy at 9,544 words. It includes a section that states that your usage may be tracked and reported but you cannot be personally identifiable.
  • livePCsupport Usage May Be Tracked and Reported: How you use livePCsupport may be tracked and sent to Comodo for analysis and for enforcement of the license agreement.
  • Toolbar: The Comodo HopSurf toolbar will be installed unless you opt-out when using the installer. When installing from the MSI file, the Comodo HopSurf toolbar will be installed and Ask.com will become your default search provider unless you opt-out during installation.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Comodo Internet Security 4.0 offers one of the best firewalls available at any price. With the addition of anti-virus and Defense+ protection CIS 4.0 is a very good comprehensive solution for protection from Internet threats for both personal and business users alike.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Comodo Internet Security 4.0? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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Author's Note

I would like to thank Comodo and Michael Kassner for spending more time helping with this review than I deserved.

After the superior performance I have experienced using the free Comodo Firewall I had high expectations for their free anti-virus software but am disappointed with some of the issues found with the anti-virus scanner. Here is where you can find information for the free Comodo Firewall if that is all you are looking for.

In Secure your computer after a Windows install or reinstall I describe how to block everything except the Windows Updater application. These instructions are slightly different in CIS 4.0 and the modified instructions can be found at Use Comodo Internet Security 4.0 to Lock Down Your PC Following a Windows Install or Reinstall.

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About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

36 comments
Sherinfriedler
Sherinfriedler

No security features are 100 % satisfactory to any one. If any one accept then i would say that must really be a false answer.But we can find out which security softwares suit the features in our system and also for our business. I was using Norton before a year and after few days using it i found some problem with it. Presently i shifted to comodo and i am satisified with comodo while comparing to other security vendors i used before. If you need to know some more information about comodo you can visit their website. http://www.comodo.com/

grichardt
grichardt

I had Comodo installed, I kept getting Comodo is running xxx in sandbox. No way to stop these alerts. Un-installed and installed Microsoft Security Essentials. Full scan found virus Comodo let in.

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

Five years ago I used an all in one solution from Zonelabs for my home computers. That version of Zonelabs was targeted. My home network was compromised and infected. After rebuilding the system, I moved away from all in one solutions and have not had any infections since. I use Comodo as the basic firewall but refuse to install or use the integrated AV due to past experience. The firewall is great, even if a little nagging until it learns the computer.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

As always, I will be checking in to answer any questions you might have and to participate when I have something intelligent to offer.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you tried Comodo Internet Security? How do you like it and how does it compare to other antivirus and firewall applications?

Zwort
Zwort

I used ZA for a couple of years until about 2002, when a bump appeared in the road, ISTR. So I moved on and ended up using OutPost Pro, and have life registration, whatever that means. However I dumped them in Jan 2007 and moved to Comodo, whose ratings have been consistently better. I also used their BOclean antimalware, and was ticked off when they made the thing a part of their AV package, simply because like you I will not use an integrated package; my AV package scans websites, and is separate. All in one solutions employing a common technology are vulnerable to one attack. I regret to say that I use the HIPS, which is not as flexible as the stuff I used in the past.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I would like to use a spoon for spooning and a fork for forking, but I don't feel I have time to look for the right ones out of the hundreds available, so I've been using sporks instead (currently zonealarm). But I wonder, what are good one-for-one programs? I guess the set would need to be AV, antispyware, Firewall, HIPS and Behaviour Blocker. Which ones play well together? Which ones use system resources sparingly?

jfuller05
jfuller05

I would rather separate the duties among programs. Not one AV can do it all, at least, in my opinion it wouldn't be as efficient.

pgit
pgit

Unfortunately there is no holy grail "all in one" security application. You're money ahead using a few tools, because one or the other will be first out of the gate with a fix for a new exploit. All it takes is once... one compromise may as well be a million in this business.

bob.mandigo
bob.mandigo

Problems with the 4.0 (3/24) release of the free Comodo Anti-Virus and Firewall. I was using the x64-compatible version on WinXPx64sp2. -- It has a bug that -- Causes 100% CPU utilization after it loads on Start-up. This slows everything else (processes and programs) and drove my CPU temp from the normal 35C to 52-57C. -- Comodo's processes in Task Manager are: ....-- cfp.exe and ....--cmdagent, neither could be stopped or ended in task manager. -- The tray applet will not allow user to Exit Comodo (an option in right-click). -- Comodo cannot be uninstalled in normal or safe mode using the Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. My solution was to install the trial version of Tune-Up Utilities and disable Comodo's startup in the TU shell>Increase performance>TuneUp StartUp Manager. After re-start I was able to uninstall Comodo using Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs. This is really a shame. I had been using Comodo for two years on x86 and x64 XP and Win7RC1 (1 year) and was quite satisfied with its performance, learning mode, and threatcast community advice on allowing/disallowing programs' internet access. Comodo's earlier version is still behaving normally WinXPx64sp2

AKHandyman
AKHandyman

I have been using Comodo for some time now, and I also install it on all of my customer's computers. Albeit I have to show them how to use it, but it is far better than Norton or ZoneAlarm (both of which I used,then dumped!!) I even used SpySweeper's "all-in-one" and dumped that because their Firewall was just horrid. My point is that Comodo is far better than the rest of the "freebies" out there and most, if not all of my customers like FREE!!

jfuller05
jfuller05

I use AVG for AV, SuperAnti-Spyware for Spyware, and Windows Firewall. No complaints. I run a scan once a month with MBytes and my computer passes positive. That's been for almost a year now with my current computer. edit: For home use, I think that's a good combination, unless a person is a suggestive-content addict, you might want run scans with MBytes daily. ;) :)

J T CUNNINGHAM
J T CUNNINGHAM

"All it takes is once... one compromise may as well be a million in this business." QUOTE A better way to look at this siuation is: All it takes is twice; the first and the last.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Having one security solution would be nice but you make a good point. There is no perfect solution yet - at least for my needs. I was hoping that CIS 4.0 would be that solution but I still prefer the avast! anti-virus and Comodo firewall combination. All of the major security software vendors offer their 'all in one' version. I always preferred audio components because I could mix and match to get the best possible sound. I just recently purchased a receiver that does it all and well enough for my aging ears. So one day there may be an 'all in one' solution that I find acceptable. CIS 4.0 is a very sophisticated piece of software. It can take a while for an advanced user to discover and learn its many features. It is a real challenge for the developers to put all of the pieces together to make the perfect security solution. A few glitches along the way isn't that surprising.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

That's pretty serious... somehow I just feel that that kind of hassle for user doesn't necessarily translate into similar problems for malware... so why make it so hard for the user in the first place?

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Bob, I wasn't aware of the options available from the Comodo notification icon. Thanks for the tip and the feedback.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

That was pretty intense reading! ;) Thanks though, I may not be wiser, but at least I no longer have deniability... wait, is that a good thing? I wonder how my 1,6 GHz system will like running Comodo firewall and HIPs, Avast Antivirus, using SpybotS&D, Spyware Blaster, File Guard, Spyware Guard... it overheats if it uses full CPU for more than 5 minutes at a time (good advice for anyone; don't buy a product from a company recently involved in bribery... most likely they took that graft money out of product design). I do think that it's important that good security measures are available for free, just look at all those zombies out there...

Zwort
Zwort

I understand the problem. There are a number of ways to obviate it. You could lurk in a Usenet news group such as news:alt.2600 or news:alt.hackers.malicious (these can be access via google groups, but I would not attempt to post from there as it is a favoured habit of trolls and fools, will draw fire down on you, and waste the experience. Lurk for a few weeks, or forever even!). You can read the TR and ZDnet blogs. You can browse security sites like http://www.matousec.com/ for reviews. In fact there are very few firewalls and very few HIPs to choose from. I won't make a libellous comment here, but have a look at matousec.com and you'll see very easily which ones to discount. Wilders can be useful in saving you some footwork: http://www.wilderssecurity.com/search.php?searchid=3460566 There are few false negatives in this field (e.g., someone wrongly claiming "this firewall is bad"), so that is a starting point. A few starting points for customers with no budget would include using Comodo firewall and HIPs (but not the AV), Avast Antivirus, using SpybotS&D, Spyware Blaster, File Guard, Spyware Guard... ...I used to use OutPost Pro (and it was to me once worth the money), but it caused my systems a lot of problems - not one but 3 machines from different manufacturers - and Matousec reported that it was not quite as hot on a vulnerability as Comodo. Because it combined a number of functions into the one package, excepting (at that time) AV, it was I thought damned good. I have no doubt that Comodo will slip in the ratings. No empire is forever. Registry cleaners are of no use, and quite possibly cause more problems than they eliminate. A half an hour spent deleting entries for products that have been removed may be worth while. If you have an infection a registry cleaner is about as useful as washing up liquid for fighting bio viruses. It would be a clever idea to make a bootable Windows PE CD or bootable Windows PE USB stick, install something like Clam Win on it, or do a Linux bootable package. (Avast do a 'PE' device of their own, if you pay nicely, and there is something on offer free from Avira.) You can then boot into it, delete suspect stuff - because it's cannot load before Windows PE, because you've booted from another device you are master and commander here - edit the registry (UBCD win comes registry editing ready), and scan for infections. Best of all, drive imaging; keep data on a separate drive; image the system drive. When a problem arises you can format the drive and restore an image. I use Acronis True Image, having tried it and liked it. Once you have the licence you can download their Windows PE plugin, boot from your Window PE device, rescue anything you impertinently put on C:\, format C:\, restore image, boot into something like Partition Magic (well it's part of a grisly empire now, but there are alternatives), fix the inevitable extended partition error, reboot, load windows, get weaving. There is no better solution than a nuclear device when you are dealing with script kiddies, criminal 'ha>

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

My focus is in a different area completely, I translate languages, not very techy. But the kind of things that need to be translated can be however sensitive, so, while I'm just working out of my home as a freelancer, I still have to know (or at least try to glimpse) what things can compromise my security, and what I can do to safeguard. Because it's going to be my responsibility if something slips from my system into the wrong hands, however slim the chances of that might be. In short, I don't have the kind of time to invest in technical studies that I would need to choose the best software (because that's not where I get my paycheck [although knowing the terms is exactly where I get it, so it's not a total waste]), and in the end I've often ended up buying solutions, all the while wondering if I'm wasting money on a false sense of security, or even wasting money on a false sense of security from a false sense of threat... Sometimes I feel like I feel about registry cleaners for XP... is it really all needed? It's pretty clear that the malware threat is real, but it's not necessarily of the shape and proportions that some companies imply in their marketing... and in the way their products present themselves.

Zwort
Zwort

I used to be a BlackIce user, and also an early OutPost Pro adopter. I was also an early dumper of both packages, ditto ZA (do you remember the mutex exploit?). I have not been keeping a good enough eye on Comodo, but I believe that Melhi has his finger on the pulse, and they seem for the while to be trustworthy. For the while. Every dog has its day.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I guess I worded my concern poorly, I am aware of the threats you mentioned, and I do have at least some of these protections (although I see no mention in the Zonealarm help files of HIPs, so I'm not sure about that one). It's the bought-isn't-always-best aspect that bothers me, there seems to be a lot of claims about various products offering superior protection, and at the same time, security products have weaknesses too, also ones that are "superior". But that's life I guess... most users don't have the time it would take to discover reliably which product is better at any given time.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I understand the absolute need for security programs, and also that prudence can't be replaced either. I guess the biggest difference is that simple prudence (avoiding risk behaviour) isn't as good a defense as it used to be. And when there's so much "stuff" flying around, it feels safer to buy a product than trust that the free product does as well as the "full" version. That's what worries me the most I guess, picking the wrong product and groundlessly feeling safe... on the other hand, these days feeling safe mostly has to do with not being connected to the internet, or better yet, having the computer turned off completely.

Zwort
Zwort

With the advent of better Windows security there was less to say. For example his network bondage tuitions for Windows 95/98x (and possible ME) users was a treat. ISTR he did a little applet that would do the job for those too lazy to show any interest. Steve still does podcasts on security, and they are probably worth listening to. I became disheartened when my chosen alert system let me down for so long that catching up was a tough prospect. His disc repair kit (spinrite) is worth every penny, and I don't know of a better prophylactic package anywhere. There are a couple of small, useful applets for shutting down, hibernating, rebooting, and stuff for checking out websites in advance of visiting them. Don't write Steve off. He may be a tad (cough) excitable, but he is a very useful canary. ;-)

Zwort
Zwort

Oh thank you for making just one point that I could have but did not. There are a number of executables/dlls that I automatically ban, and a number that I automatically allow only occasionally. For example, I only allow WMP 11x to connect if I am recognising a CD and using the database, after which I close, restart and then rip. It is otherwise mute. Likewise windows explorer which, if I am lazy enough to use it for a search rather than (e.g.) search and replace, will want to connect. There are quite a few others, Open Office, components of SmartSuite, CCleaner, a number of html editors that I use (some do somethings that others do not and, NO, I will not 'code' using notepad; I do not 'code' using notepad when I use WordPro, for similar reasons!), and any image editor is automatically banned. Some people like their fridge to logon. Others like their WP software to logon. The more you allow, the greater the probability that something will be vulnerable. To reiterate, only a week or so ago a shrink wrapped package was found with something like Conficker written on it, and now cell 'phones come with hostiles too. Ten years ago I bought a notebook and found one, either a virus or a trojan. These days I'd have made a point of sending it back, but note that I scanned it before using it. Nothing is free of risk, nothing at all.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I seem to remember it having exactly the same look a couple of years ago, and with the same content. I could be wrong.

Zwort
Zwort

A hardware firewall or router can only gate incoming traffic. Having one does not change the requirement for gating outgoing traffic. For example you could have picked up something hostile from an exploited web site (and yes, Symantec's and Paul McCartney's sites were among those from which you could have picked up such an infection); your system might have been subjected to another attack, e.g., someone might have planted a bot, keylogger that dials home or other hostile software; you might have bought some software that was infected from the moment their DVD/CD was burned, meaning you bought it shrinkwrapped; the possibilities are probably limitless and, if don't have a firewall that gates outgoing traffic, if you don't have a rootkit aware HIPs, if your system does not other software that is rootkit aware, then you might as well throw your hardware firewall or router through the window, or distribute the passwords, leave your front door open and let everyone into your life. Gating incoming traffic only is like trying to sit on a two legged stool. If you are offended by this, well I am sorry. If you take no notice of this, well then you are a part of a problem that causes a lot of unnecessary traffic and also a lot of spam, and hostile attacks in general. Routers are not sufficient. HTH HAND

bob.mandigo
bob.mandigo

Several years ago I used ZoneAlarm because I wanted to see the incoming and outgoing traffic (I, too have had router with NAT protection for the last 10 years.) I was shocked at the software that "calls home" on its own accord. It made wonder why, and what data it was taking home from my computer. Been using software firewalls ever since (Windows Firewall does not report or stop outgoing traffic). If you are not yet paranoid, visit ShieldsUp! Mr. Gibson is a fount of knowledge on internet security.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

(which is a couple of days a month)... I still don't really know what to think of Windows Firewall. I do have a router, so I guess I have less of a need for software firewall, I just don't know enough to say what weaknesses I actually have. I am thinking that a lot of people are defaulting to windows firewall, which makes it a like target for exploitation in it's own right. Like with car-theft, a car only has to be moderately difficult to steal to be perfectly safe, because there's so many other cars around that are easy pickings... but if every car has Windows Firewall, then every car-thief also knows how to get around that. I am aware that some security companies exaggerate the actual dangers from hackers and malware, but I have little way of knowing what's really relevant or not. On the other hand, I know that my customers probably believe the exaggerated reports, and want to rest assured that I employ "commercial-grade" security measures. And of course, in the event of a security breach I might personally face liability problems.

pgit
pgit

Indeed, the people that are attentive to security are the ones that just cut me the check for a disaster recovery... often the first serious compromise IS the last.

Zwort
Zwort

The problem with the single security solution is that it can cause a seam of vulnerability to run through a security suite. I am usually fairly pleased when I find a robust piece of software that is not in common use, because it is less likely to be subjected to heavy targeting.

bob.mandigo
bob.mandigo

Thanks for that suggestion. I do a lot of computer clean-ups for friends and Autoruns looks to become a key tool.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I mean, now you can get contaminated going to legit sites, even known and trusted sites that were clean a week ago.

bob.mandigo
bob.mandigo

I'm willing to take the risks to use the internet as a resource. The ones I know to avoid are those that are known for bad behavior, e.g., porn and warez.

Zwort
Zwort

As with RL, nothing online is innocent. Trusting 'innocent' sites is not very wise at all: http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=3476 http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=4091 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/15/symantec_xss_bugs/ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/8109806.stm http://www.securecomputing.net.au/News/142020,paul-mccartneys-website-hacked-to-distribute-malware.aspx If you trust anyone for any reason you become vulnerable. Of course you have to trust some people sometimes, but as we can see even banks are filled with shady, dubious characters. It follows, a fortiori, that web sites that can be hacked, and thus on which malicious code can be embedded, are more likely to bite you than bankers. You may wish to think that there's this bloke on TR who is paranoid, but a lot of people have been bitten by 'innocent' sites, and because they did not choose a comprehensive set of security features. There is NO such thing as safe hex, even when you have screwed down all of the nuts and bolts on your system, so do not ever kid yourself that there is. Even I am vulnerable, and I am probably the most thorough individual that I know where security is concerned. Do a search on computers + defence in depth (OK, if you are American make that 'defense').

bob.mandigo
bob.mandigo

Those tray icons usually provide short-cuts to the program's features. I installed the free PC Tools Firewall Plus after a little internet research; it is working fine (I did have to install an a/v, and chose AVG free 8.5. I liked Comodo because it was free, easy to use, did double-duty with firewall and a/v, and was not a resource hog. I don't visit questionable websites, so Comodo was a good solution for me.