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Anti-Virus software

In today’s world where network and system security is of great importance and we live and operate behind firewalls, VPNs, SSH, encryption, anti-virus software and many other tools that help make us more secure, it is often difficult figuring out that winning combo to stay safe online and protect your personal information.

One component that in a sense started it all, but is now often overlooked (especially by non-Windows users thinking that viruses and malware don’t apply to them) are Anti-Virus products. Today, they go beyond simple signature scanning and early days of amateur heuristics behavior; most of them also include HIPS (host-based intrusion prevention system) and can even blacklist/white list applications, files and directories. Having said that and considering that many of the above mentioned technologies work on protecting your data while it travels from and to your computer it is still important to have a good local solution for when unwelcome code enters your file system. Over the past several years I have tested numerous AV products and while they performed most functions as advertised I didn’t find any of them to be impressive (Kaspersky being the exception in this case). They are either memory/processor hogs; too slow in updating they definitions or cause more problems then solutions they provide (anyone remember few years back Norton locking down your system and outbound ports if something wasn’t to its liking?).

Here’s where my question comes in. As I look to test new products for both internal use and to recommend to clients I want to make sure we use the best solution currently available. Based on your knowledge and experience even if it is derived from simple observations of what was installed by your IT department what anti-virus software keeps your data secure? Ideally, I’m looking for a solution that works equally well on Windows and OS X based systems. Furthermore, if it worked on popular Linux distros (Ubuntu, SUSE to name a couple) as well I would be grateful.

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