14 March 2009

A Recommendation.. and a Reason.

As I noted in my previous post, I recommend NOD32 Antivirus software by Eset to protect every system in your office and/or home. And while I explained why you should protect every system, I reserved why NOD32 for another day. I suppose today is as good as any.

So let's go positive before we go negative. I've been using NOD32 on my own systems since 2004 and began recommending it to clients shortly afterward. The software has proven to do exactly what it's supposed to do, namely prevent malware from infesting a computer. This is evidenced by the numerous awards NOD32 has received, specifically the consecutive string of VB100 awards. A brief background, Virus Bulletin runs independent tests of nearly every antivirus software available using a variety of environments. Only if you pass all of the tests (e.g. identify and prevent all malware) do you achieve a VB100 award.

So yes, it's very good at its stated purpose. And as an added bonus, NOD32 is easy on your system resources. Definitely good to have with the ever-increasing system requirements of the recent Practice Management upgrades. I should note here, if you're installing any antivirus software on the computers that run your business, there are settings that should be configured so as not to interfere with your existing applications (i.e. Dentrix, Eaglesoft, et al.).

So, what's wrong with free alternatives? Well, for one, nearly all free alternatives are for Personal Use Only. No, your Dental Practice doesn't qualify. If you'd like to install it on your home computer, have at it. But the licensing is quite clear here, AVG Free Edition and the like are not permitted in a business environment. And while it might seem like a victimless crime to simply use the free edition anyway, I'm fairly certain you expect to be paid for the products or services that you offer as a part of your business.

There's also the matter of open-source software, such as ClamWin. Free? Yes, even for businesses. But you might want to read one very important line on their website:
"Please note that ClamWin Free Antivirus does not include an on-access real-time scanner. You need to manually scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware."
Essentially, you can still download, install, and infect your entire network with some very bad malware. But don't worry, ClamWin will try to clean up the mess the next time you decide to run a full scan of your systems. Not exactly proactive. Wait, prevention, isn't that the term Dentists use?

And finally, please don't be lulled into thinking you're fine just because you have a 5 year old copy of Norton running on your server that hasn't seen an update since the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. New viruses, and variations of existing ones, are detected daily. You might as well not be running anything at all.

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