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  • I use Opera to browse the internet
  • The Windows Firewall active
  • I only open/download programs that I trust and come from known & reliable sources

what I'm asking is that if I can still get a virus.

Like starting Windows, connecting to a wireless network and doing nothing. Can I still get infected somehow?

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closed as not constructive by slhck, Tom Wijsman, Simon Sheehan, Mokubai, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Apr 15 '12 at 15:44

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No system is perfect and has vulnerabilities. Getting a virus is not the biggest concern here. In the second scenario you describe, active hacking attempts are much more common. –  slhck Apr 15 '12 at 13:17
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Never forget: You can even get a virus if you have an Antivirus installed. –  sudo Apr 15 '12 at 13:31
    
Generally antiviruses are still not enough to stop 0-day attacks. –  PythEch Apr 15 '12 at 13:58

7 Answers 7

Known "good" sources can be compromised. Documents on a "known good" site can be compromised. There are likely many vectors. If you are very careful you may avoid issues but I would suggest why take the chance.

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Let's say these sources are popular sites, like Microsoft, Sun, Intel etc. Documents are not programs, they can't have executable code in them. Besides Word docs, which I don't use anyway because I don't have word –  Alexxa Apr 15 '12 at 13:19
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They can still be compromised, just this week HP released a batch of network switches that had a compromised compact flash card in them, if one takes one of the compact flash cards out and plugs it into a windows machine, well lets just say, not pretty. –  ewanm89 Apr 15 '12 at 13:21
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Don't forget about infected PDFs, which can contain executable code. –  Patrick S. Apr 15 '12 at 13:43
    
The line between "document" and "program" is quite blurry: "Open up your Facebook in your browser and press the following keys to see something awesome: [a bunch of letters]" is just a line of text, not a program - the computer won't execute it without the user's help, but there are many gullible users who have gotten malware this way last year. (And as @Patrick S. mentions, many modern document formats actually are programs.) –  Piskvor Apr 15 '12 at 15:02
    
One advantage of the neuman based architecture over a turing/harvard based architecture. However this would also mean no flash, javascript... anything that did JIT compiling. –  ewanm89 Apr 15 '12 at 15:04

All of these answers assume that antivirus is going to make a huge difference. As said above there are exploits that your antivirus won't stop.

You're already doing all the right things as far as your behavior goes.

If you're concerned about the cost, just install Microsoft Security Essentials. If you're not concerned about cost, stick with something free.

You didn't mention Windows updates or updating your other apps. Those two things are VERY important. You should make sure Windows is always up to date. Microsoft will push fixes for security vulnerabilities regularly. Another good free utility is Secunia. It will check all your installed apps regularly and make sure the latest version is installed.

http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/

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No, we say it's another layer of defense. –  ewanm89 Apr 15 '12 at 15:06
    
Secunia even checks apps that are not installed, like those in BartPE's rescue disk. I prefer FileHippo Update Checker. –  Cees Timmerman Nov 26 '12 at 15:48

We live in a era where only cable (electricity) unplugged computer can only be somewhat treated as secure.

There can be network intrusions from various sources like ISP etc (My ISP was dump enough to not employ proper security measures and there was a MSSQL worm which uses to infiltrate in my PC everytime I connect).

One cant trust the browser for internet activity.

Windows firewall does protect from various forms of intrusions, but its not that good.

An antivirus (including firewall) product does not give 100% protection, but it does seem to provide to atleast the ones in the wild.

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I'll personally recommend you the antivirus. You told that you download the stuffs from only "Good known resources" but there are no guaranty that you are not under attack.
I'm not sure that you use the USB or not, if you then its very important that you should have an AV on your system.
There are lots of hackers in world, who every minute makes and spread millions of new viruses. The main purpose of those hackers is to hack and collect your secret information. If you are plugged with the "Internet" then no one can say that you are not under attack. There are many type of the hacking that hacker used and one of them is known as "Phishing" which can hack your "Email" password if you are not aware about it. Thus AV are the program which alerts you on these kind of hacking situations.

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The way a system can be automatically compromised are numerous. So yes, use an antivirus. Even if you are very carefull, download nothing, etc. Only one mistake and your safety is over. Only one reliable source compromised, and your safety is down.

If you don't want to have the full-blown-hyper-mega-antivirus, which cost money, time and performances, just install MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials). It is fairly good, and free:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials

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The most protected computer is that disconnected from all networks, including electrical and burried six feet under. So i guess you still need antivirus software if you turn your computer on.

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You forgot the faraday cage. –  ewanm89 Apr 15 '12 at 15:01
    
Sorry, my mistake. –  cookieMonster Apr 16 '12 at 18:16

I honestly think that you do need an antivirus because you will never know, there are bugs, viruses & spam going around the web. So better safe than sorry, Imagine if you were to loose all your information because your PC got attacked by a virus.

There are free antivirus software you can use if you do not wanna buy.

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Agree with the general opinion, but in specific cases, I agree one must do an PROS/CONS analysis. Even free Antivirus may slow down the system for example. –  jpmartins Apr 15 '12 at 18:57

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