Protect Your Computer From Viruses, Worms & Malware With Free Programs
Recently, I had a web client whose hosting server was attacked by hackers who modified their website to distribute malware.
This morning, I was informed by my system virus protection (avast!) that since 2008, several high-profile websites were targeted to download malware to its visitors. These included USA Today, ABC News, Target and Wal-Mart. Hackers are also attacking several government sites with malware.
This warning inspired me to investigate further into comparing free antivirus software, firewall protection, internet surfing protection and spyware programs. I want to share with you what I have found.
Why FREE software you ask? How are these programs offered for free?
It is sad to say that Norton and McAfee don’t provide as great a defense as these stand alone programs that I am writing about. They are also memory hogs which slow down your system. There are definitely paid programs that will provide all the protection your system needs, but why pay the price?
Freeware programs can be offered for free because they do not offer technical support (only forums) and make their money by selling professional editions which have a few more features and offer full support.
There are 2 main antivirus protection programs that have remained freeware for years. These are AVG and Avast. Both offer excellent protection, but Avast catches malware quicker, and escapes some signature file update problems that plague some AVG users. Avast does require you to re-register every so often, but it is a small price to pay for FREE protection. I have used avast to protect my computer for the last 7 years and have not had any viruses or worms.
Besides virus protection, you should have a firewall that provides a better defense than the standard Windows Firewall that comes with your Operating System (OS). Online research indicates that the free Comodo Firewall (install the stand alone firewall) beats its competition (Zone Alarm). A firewall protects your computer from hackers by blocking unauthorized access to your Internet-connected computer and protecting against both known and unknown malicious software and Internet threats.
Although Avast provides spyware protection, installing Super Anti Spyware on your computer provides extra protection and will not slow down your system. Because it is a free version, you have to manually run the scan. You can use your computer normally while it is scanning your files.
One last bit of advice. Your internet browser can also have an effect on your system protection. Mozilla Firefox is known to be more secure than Internet Explorer. There are some website features that are not supported through Firefox (the only one I can think of is Netflix Movies online) but for surfing and buying things online, Firefox is your best bet. Besides security, you can get fun extensions to enhance your internet experience. One of my favorites is Stumble Upon. It takes you to various websites depending on the categories you select.
One of the best features about Firefox is that it has the ability to remember all of your user names and passwords for different webistes by using a Master Password. Simply go to
- Tools in the menu bar and click on options. A small window appears with tabs.
- Click on the Security tab.
- In the middle of the window find Passwords and check both “Remember passwords for websites” and “Use a master password”.
Now, each time you go to a site and enter a user name and password, a bar at the top of the window appears asking you if you want Firefox to remember that password. When you click Yes, a new window will appear and you can enter one password of your choosing that will remember those more secure passwords that you use at certain sites. (The most secure passwords include capitalization and numbers in combination)
A second great feature to Firefox is its ability to clean up your cookies automatically after you close the program. Once again go to
- Tools and Options.
- Click on the Privacy tab and check the box next to “Always clear my private data when I close Firefox.”
- Then, click on the Settings button to the right and check every box that appears ACCEPT saved passwords. I also do not have the History checkbox selected but this is only my preference.
Here is a list of my recommended security freeware:
Comodo – Install Firewall as standalone during installation
Do NOT EVER use a registry cleaner! (ex. CCleaner) Registry files have so many different names that the program creators make up, there is no registry cleaner that could possibly know which ones are bad and which are good. Using a registry cleaner will put bugs in your system that are not easily repaired.