Wired magazine has an article in the October edition that addresses that question. Security is big business. Look at Norton and McAfee, they get you with a fee each and every year. Every week you hear of some data base that has been compromised. Keep in mind that your home computer has little likelihood to be the target of the more talented hackers. Even those of us who have or had small businesses are not that attractive to the hackers. High volume shysters have been targeting gas stations with their parasitic card readers because that is where there is some serious money. Look at how many credit cards they can get in one day with minimal work so it stands to reason getting your credit card information off of your home computer is not going to be high on the agenda of the average cyber creep.
This is not to suggest that you should do nothing to protect your computers. You should have a good antivirus software package installed and a spyware destroyer or two. Most importantly you should make sure they are updated and working. Encryption software, encrypted hard drives, biometrics are all costly, effective but costly security devices. Most happy homeowners and small businesses really don’t need that level of security.
AVAST is a very good, free antivirus software package, click on the name to download it. I used to recommend AVG but they have had updating issues for several months now and frankly that drove me to AVAST which has been very unobtrusive and updates transparently.
Ad-Aware Free is free to home and personal computer users. It does a nice job on spyware and crap removal. Spybot-S&D is my other spyware program. The two programs don’t always play nicely. Ad-Aware may find some of the Spybot backup files and complain about them but otherwise they get along ok.
Periodically I go to the Trend Micro’s or Comodo's free online scan to check up on AVAST. I do have the security enabled on both of my routers.
Check out my post on Free Software-Free Protection on September 30 for more software suggestions.
Bottom line is that you can spend a fortune on security for your computer, it won’t hurt you (may slow down your pc) but it probably isn’t worth what you pay for most users.
Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't whether I got it free or NOT!