In a world where the number of individual pieces of malware is measured in the millions, security vendors and online crooks are involved in a fast-paced arms race.

In recent weeks and months, software vendors such as Symantec, Kaspersky, Bullguard and BitDefender have been announcing increasingly sophisticated internet security products, aimed at combating the increasingly sophisticated and fast-paced threat of internet crime.

In the modern internet security suite, you can reasonably expect to see blacklisting and whitelisting for viruses, antispyware, heuristical analysis, sandboxing and encryption. And the big boys have recently taken to leveraging their vast userbases to make snap judgments on suspicious code. The average antimalare toolkit comprises a plethora of tools.

But according to PC Advisor readers, at least, your first line of protection against malware is to put up a sturdy barrier. The humble firewall remains king.

When asked: 'What's the most important aspect of your PC's security arsenal?' this month, more than 45 percent of the 1,250 respondents said it is the firewall.


Interestingly, although traditional, signature-based antivirus was the second most popular choice, at 19 percent, it lags a long way behind the firewall. And with 16 percent of the vote, behavioural antivirus is right behind.

These results reflect the way that the malware world has changed. Where once, individual hackers tried to exploit vulnerabilities simply to show off their complex code, modern hackers tend to be organised into groups, and motivated only by money.

The level of skill required to rip someone off online has dropped, and the volume of malware has increased. Rapidly, and exponentially.

More than 13 percent of respondents to the PC Advisor poll said that antispyware is most important, 6 percent said data encryption.

The truth is, all aspects of your internet security arsenal are equal, but some are more equal than others. There's no cast iron way of being 100 percent safe, so a layered setup, comprising all the available antimalware weaponry, is the best way to go.

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