William West is the editor of Perspective, a Sydney-based magazine of news and views for the family. In his free time he moonlights as a geek specialising in home computing systems for his wife and three daughters.

The problem

 Ten years ago when people first started talking about the “information superhighway”, no-one could have known just how perilous this thoroughfare would become. These days you almost need to have a degree in online security to defend your family from the threats that now exist on the internet – particularly if you are a user of Microsoft Windows. The list of protection programs needed to combat net nasties continues to grow by the day, but the main categories include anti-virus software, anti-spyware or anti-adware programs that fight unwanted web advertising and sleuthing, spam blockers that stop unsolicited email, web filters to block pornographic and other offensive websites, programs that supervise web-based chat sessions to prevent children from turning over sensitive details to undesirables, and firewalls to lock out computer hackers trying to gain access to your hard drive.