Josh Holst

May 28 2014

If Your Computer is Online, You Need Security Software

If your computer is online, you need security software.

To family and friends, I’m known as the “Computer Guy” or the “IT Guy” (substitute Guy for Geek or Nerd if you wish). As that “Guy” I’m occasionally asked if security software is needed on my home computer, and if so, what I recommend. There are two possible answers.

The first option is the one I personally think is the absolute best and 100% foolproof way to secure your computer from online threats. Everyone lean in to your computer screen because this could change the way you use your computer. Business owners, you’ll want to read this too. My top recommendation for securing your computer is to disconnect it from the Internet. Simple isn’t it? Unexpected too? Now, I say this knowing it’s not a practical option since we’ve all grown to rely on our computers to keep our daily lives organized, conduct business, play games, and keep in touch with family and friends.

For those of you that want to connect to the Internet from your computer, my answer is always yes, you need security software.

Why you need security software if you’re going to connect to the Internet.

For those who don’t want to unplug from the Internet, let’s talk about why you need security software. I’m going to be honest. Security software is there to protect you from yourself. While no one would ever knowingly put their computer at risk, the bad guys online who want to fraud you have done a good job making their software or websites look safe and legitimate. They make a living tricking people into clicking malicious links within emails so they can install viruses or malware onto your computer. From there, they attempt to take your personal information like usernames and passwords, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers. This is where security software steps in. The best security software is made of multiple pieces of software that work together to protect your computer from various types of internet threats, including malware and viruses.

The best types of security software includes anti-virus and anti-malware.

The best types of security software should include an anti-virus and anti-malware solution. Viruses are still on the internet, but not seen as often. Why? Because viruses are meant to be disruptive and slow down your computer. Over time, the bad guys have shifted away from simply being disruptive, to doing more behind the scenes with malware in order to commit fraud. They want to get in, take your personal information, and get out –all without your knowledge. This is why malware has grown as one of the primary threats on the internet and why it’s important any security software you purchase includes anti-virus and anti-malware solutions.

Many security software options also include additional layers of security protection. Two add-ons I like are parental controls and internet address blocking. Parental control allows websites to be blocked based on a category. Internet address blocking will block known bad addresses using a central catalog of addresses.

Threats change hourly. It’s crucial to keep your security software updated.

Does having security software guarantee your computer will not be infected with a virus or malware? No, but it does help reduce your risk of infection. If you do purchase a security software keep it up-to-date. Most security packages are usually one-year subscription services which require an annual fee for updates. Why do you need to keep the software up to date? Threats change hourly. Also, PLEASE keep the security software running. I’ve helped family and friends with security issues only to find out they disabled the software, or did not pay the annual fee to keep it updated. Sometimes security software prevents you from going to websites that appear safe or that you want to visit. Ask any of my co-workers, who I’m sure at some point have been blocked from a website due to our security software. Most politely let me know they have been blocked and understand it’s in the best interest of security, but having those conversations on a daily basis is an IT Guy’s life.

Additional layers of online protection are available soon.

Hills Bank Online customers, I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’m probably going to get in trouble for letting this out, so if you don’t see a second post from me you’ll know why. In the very near future, Hills Bank is going to provide an anti-malware software solution designed to add an additional layer of security to your online banking sessions. When you connect to Hills Bank Online, it will secure your online banking session by blocking malicious attempts to access your information. Best of all, this is being offered at no cost to you and only takes a few minutes to install. Look for more details soon, but we are pretty excited about offering this to our Hills Bank Online customers.

As I stated above, having security software does not guarantee you won’t be infected, but it does help reduce your risk. The worst case scenario for an infected computer is to rebuild and restore your computer back to when it was taken out of the box. “But IT Guy, won’t I lose all my applications, photos, music, and files?” Yes, you will lose all those things if you don’t have a good backup of those items. In my next post, I’ll discuss how to backup your computer and the difference between a backup and online file sharing software.

If you have questions for the “IT Guy” share them in the comments below. I’d be glad to create upcoming posts around those questions.

Josh Holst

About Josh Holst

Josh Holst is Vice President of Information Systems at Hills Bank’s Operation Center in Hills, IA. He has been at Hills Bank since 2002 working with systems and network administration, with a focus on customer service, security, business continuity, compliance, and operations. Josh can be reached at

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