Is security software your best protection?

There's a lot of software out there that promises to make our computers safer, and everyone has their favorites. Corporations need these utilities to protect their investment, but can we reasonably expect these tools to protect users who can't&#8212or won't&#8212protect themselves?

Last time, I tossed out a few of my favorite PC utilities for regular system maintenance. The discussion that followed was terrific! I want to thank you in the community for all of your responses. The comments were a treasure trove of additional tools, tools of all kinds. Lots of you mentioned the security utilities that you rely on. It's these types of programs I want to focus on this week.

There were some very visible names mentioned in the comments to my last post. Ad-Aware came up for malware protection, as did Spybot. Several people recommended anti-virus solutions like AVG and NOD32, and a few more affirmed their faith in client-side firewalls. I'll be honest with you, though. I don't run a lot of security software on my personal PC.

That statement smacks of heresy, I know. Don't get me wrong; this is my personal stance, not my professional one. In every list of best practices for Windows users, installing programs like these are job number one, and all the computers I manage in my office run a suite of security software that protects them. My honest feeling, though: software can't ever protect users from their own bad computing habits. The best way to protect a computer from malware isn't to scan for it, detect it, or scrub it. The best protection is avoiding computing threats in the first place.

I don't feel the need to run a lot of security software on my personal machine because I don't practice risky behavior. An empowered and responsible user is the best computing protection available. Sadly, it's often easier to install security software on the PC than it is to instill good sense in the user. Keep installing security software on your organization's PCs, that's the only responsible course for a support pro. Security software only treats the symptoms of bad computing habits, though. It would be better if we could treat the disease itself.