There is a lot of security related products for home users and it is becoming unclear what the difference is between them.

What is the difference between antimalware, antispyware, antiadware and antivirus and are all of them necessary? Are other security products such as firewall and anti-spam necessary, as they often come bundled in one product?


2 Answers 2


Malware is a catch-all term for all viruses, trojans, worms, etc. Very few threats fall into a single category anymore, most malware has traits of all three, so defending against one type of threat is of little use. Anything that calls itself an antivirus is really anti-malware, it's just product naming using familiar terms.

All that you really need as a home user on a home computer is one antivirus/antimalware program with a built-in software firewall. Most of the good ones will also have additional features like browser plug-ins and email scanners built in as well. That gives you a simple, one stop shop for home computing security.

As important as having a good security software package is to keep your computer as up to date as possible with security patches and updates. Also having a firewall instead of a modem on your broadband line.

  • Is MSE along with the Windows firewall enough? According to here it is answers.microsoft.com/en-us/protect/forum/mse-protect_start/… Why is it sometimes numerous other programs are used e.g. combofix hijackthis, rkill as seen here techspot.com/community/forums/virus-and-malware-removal.28
    – Celeritas
    Nov 22, 2013 at 9:38
  • 2
    This is where it gets into opinion @Celeritas. MSE isn't a bad product in some opinions, and it's certainly better than nothing. Others think that a third party program will do a better job. As for hijackthis, rkill, and other programs you can run every process you add uses up more resources. You must decide for yourself whether the (questionable) additional security is with the performance hit.
    – GdD
    Nov 22, 2013 at 10:00
  • The point of my question was to get some objective information so I can have my own opinion. I'm serious, I agree it's a matter of opinion which AV is best but can I have some facts to base my decision on? There's a big different between an antivirus that is free and one that costs lots of money and one that doesn't do anything and one that makes the system slow. For example compared to Norton MSE is fast and free but there must be some pros to Norton otherwise it wouldn't be in existence.
    – Celeritas
    Nov 24, 2013 at 9:41
  • I do think that my previous answer was OK, as there is only one product I know of that fits this description, but I will avoid mentioning the name so I don't get my comment deleted again. There are protections such as DEP, SEHOP, and ASLR. Normally these have to be implemented at a programming level, but a certain program is available that will sit between the OS and any other program you want it to and watch for attempted buffer overflows, etc. It runs beside AV & when applied to internet facing programs like IE, Adobe Reader, Chrome, Windows Media Player... will help block even 0 Days. Dec 9, 2013 at 18:23

As has been mentioned, reputable Anti Virus, Software firewall are the biggest points.

As well as this, you need to make sure you behave in a secure way - you already seem to do this, seeing as you're asking advice! Don't open email attachments unless you trust the sender etc. - There's lots of advice available on blogs and such on the finer points of behaving in a way that preserves your personal security.

The final thing is to backup. Whilst most malware can be effectively removed, a common fallback is to simply wipe and reinstall a system, and for this you need your data backed up. An ideal backup should be stored in several places - the rule of thumb being at least one different location (an off-site backup) and one seperate kind of media.

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