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Guess What? Windows' Own Security Tools May Be All You Need

For quite some time I've maintained that most home-based and small-business users can make do just fine with the security tools built into Windows and a handful of assorted freebies.

In fact, I wrote a treatise to that effect for PC World. (See Security Software: Protection or Extortion?)

To sum up, as long as you have a router, Windows Firewall, Windows Defender, and the latest version of Firefox or Internet Explorer, you're safe from the majority of everyday threats.

If you use Gmail, as I do, you're even safer, as everybody's favorite mail service offers server-side, Norton-powered virus protection as well as killer spam filtering.

If not, you can tap Microsoft's new Security Essentials anti-virus software, which not only doesn't suck, but also compares favorably with offerings from industry heavyweights eScan and Symantec.

I also highly recommend Web of Trust, a free browser plug-in that shows you if Web links are safe -- before you click them.

Make no mistake: Security threats are alive and well on the Internet. But if you're an educated user running a modern OS (sorry, XP) and updated browser, you can keep them at bay without spending a penny on security software.

I've been doing exactly that for the better part of three years. Security breaches to date: zero. Think I'm crazy, or right on the money? Let's talk PC safety in the comments.