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Cervone’s Good Geeky Utilities

Frank Cervone, the software geek at Northwestern University (otherwise known as assistant university librarian for information technology), gave a very useful talk about free and inexpensive products that can provide protection against all manor of unsavory and dangerous items in our IT environments. He covered 5 categories of products: antivirus, firewalls, spyware detection and removal, Anti-trojans and rootkit removers, and generally useful utilities.

While I was familiar with some of the products he discussed, many of them were new to me. And, I’d never even heard of a rootkit (rootkits compromise computer systems without detection). I particularly appreciated his assessments on strengths and weaknesses of each. For example, he recommended using a virus detection product like
Bitdefender 8, even if you use one from Norton. While ZoneAlarm is a firewall product I use, he noted that Outpost Free Firewall offers a bit more than ZoneAlarm in the free version and does real time connection monitoring (processes and ports).

Frank said that much of his work lately has been directed at spyware detection and removal. One that stood out was Spybot Search and Destroy. He said he uses this in the library as the first line of defense. Recent changes to program make it even better for system start-up checking and it allows you to fix registry inconsistencies. The product provides flexibility that some others don’t.

He covered a long list of products and provided a lot of URLs. He said the presentation would be available on the CIL site. I highly recommend taking a look at this when it is posted. Our computers are just too important not to protect properly and he’s had a wealth of experience testing these products. He did mention a “favorite”—CCleaner, a registry and file cleaner that works very well.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.

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