Securing your Information with Free Security Software

Secure PCSecuring your computer and the information stored on it does not have to cost money. There are many reputable  and free security solutions available that can help and this article list some of the best. Just because they are free, it does not mean they are no good. In fact many free security solutions are at least as good as, or even better than, their paid-for counterparts.

All of the software listed below is 100% free for unlimited personal use and some products are even free for commercial use. This means there are no trials or time limits for use and you will not be asked for your credit card. If you come across a sign-up page requesting credit card details, you are not signing up for the free version.

Avoid using download sites such as download.com to download any of the listed software and instead, download directly from the software vendor’s website. This is always best practice and will help ensure you are downloading a legitimate and trusted version of the software. The links provided in this article all link directly to the vendor websites and were all working at time of publication – please let me know of any dead links.

The software has been divided up into categories as follows:

 

Security Updaters

Windows Update
http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
Windows update comes bundled with Windows and you should ensure it is turned on and that you install all security updates and reboot when asked to do so. Clicking on the URL listed above will take you to the online version of Windows Update, allowing you to perform a scan of your computer and discover if any updates are missing. Note: Windows Update only checks for updates to Microsoft products.

FileHippo Update Checker
http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/
The Update Checker will scan your computer for some of the most commonly installed software, check the software versions and see if newer releases exist. These are then neatly displayed in your browser for you to download. It’s a quick solution that is easy to use.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)
http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/
The Secunia PSI is a free security tool designed with the sole purpose of helping you secure your computer against vulnerabilities in programs. It checks all of the software installed on your PC for security updates and alerts you of any vulnerabilities or  software upgrades. This solution is one of the best, but you must be logged in as an administrator for it to run.

 

Malware Prevention & Detection

Panda Cloud Antivirus
http://www.cloudantivirus.com/
Panda Cloud Antivirus offers free malware protection in a lightweight package with a fresh user interface. The advantage of this software is that is stays constantly updated (i.e. there is no need to download virus signatures) and the footprint is lightweight, that makes it good for a netbook.

AVG Free
http://free.avg.com/ww-en/download-avg-anti-virus-free-edition
AVG Free provides you with basic antivirus and antispyware protection for Windows

Microsoft Security Essentials
http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/
Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Avast! Home Edition
http://www.avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html
Version 5 is scheduled for release in January 2010 offering Windows 7 compatibility and a new, improved interface.

 

Firewalls

Comodo Internet Security
http://www.comodo.com/home/internet-security/free-internet-security.php
Comodo Internet Security combines powerful antivirus protection, an enterprise class packet filtering firewall, and an advanced host intrusion prevention system. The firewall is consistently rated as the best available and can be installed as a standalone solution or together with the anti-virus protection.

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall
http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/zonealarm-pc-security-free-firewall.htm
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall detects and prevents intrusions, keeping your PC free from viruses that slow down performance, and spyware that steals your personal information, passwords, and financial data. ZoneAlarm is noted for its ease of use.

PC Tools Firewall Plus
http://www.pctools.com/firewall/
PC Tools Firewall Plus is another powerful free personal firewall for Windows that protects your computer by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network.

Windows Firewall
Windows Firewall comes bundled with XP Service Pack 2, Vista and Windows 7. The firewall offers adequate inbound protection, but only basic outbound protection. The Windows 7 Firewall is an improvement over previous versions, although still does not offer the protection that a dedicated 3rd party firewall can offer.

 

Secure Internet Browsers

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8)
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/Internet-explorer/default.aspx
Internet Explorer version 8 offers a host of security updates and features over version 7 and below. If you use Internet Explorer as your browser of choice, then you should ensure you are running version 8. Note: IE8 comes with Windows 7 and is available as a download for all other Windows versions.

Mozilla Firefox 3.5
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ie.html
Firefox offers a viable, open-source alternative to Internet Explorer and offers a number of security features as well as a whole raft of installable plug-ins that let you extend the functionality of the browser. Being open-source, a world of security researchers get involved in fixing bugs and building stronger security features and the wide community of testers help to find and fix security issues very promptly.

 

File & Disk Encryption

TrueCrypt
http://truecrypt.org/
TrueCrypt is a free open-source encryption application for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. It can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mount it as a real disk. It can encrypt an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive. It can also encrypt a partition or drive where Windows is installed. Truecrypt is the best free encryption software available and is better than many paid solutions.

Comodo Disk Encryption
http://www.comodo.com/home/data-storage-encryption/disk-encryption.php
Comodo Disk Encryption software protects sensitive information by enabling encryption of any drive on your system. Comodo Disk Encryption works on the fly, so there’s no need to shut down or reboot the PC to encrypt your private data.

 

Email Encryption

Comodo Email Certificate
http://www.comodo.com/home/internet-security/free-email-certificate.php
Using a free Comodo email certificate means you’ll enjoy the same level of security as their commercial clients. This certificate will allow you digitally sign your email to ensure authenticity and integrity and will allow you to encrypt any of your emails to ensure they are sent securely. Comodo is the world’s second largest Certification Authority and their digital Certificates are fully trusted by 99 percent of email clients.

 

Password Vaults

Password Safe
 http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/
Password Safe allows you to safely and easily create a secured and encrypted user name/password list. With Password Safe all you have to do is create and remember a single “Master Password” of your choice in order to unlock and access your entire user name/password list.

KeePass Password Safe
http://keepass.info/
KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database.

  

Secure Online Backup

Mozy Home Online Backup
http://mozy.com/home
Mozy, the trusted leader in online backup, saves you time and money with a simple, secure, and affordable backup solution. Enjoy peace of mind in knowing that your data is backed up, encrypted and stored in a safe, remote location. The first 2Gb of backup data is free for personal use.

 

VPN Software

Comodo TrustConnect
http://www.comodo.com/home/internet-security/wifi-security.php
Free TrustConnect URL: https://accounts.comodo.com/trustconnectfree/management/signup
TrustConnect makes surfing the web safe while at coffee shops, hotels, airports, libraries…anywhere you’re using the Internet, for both wired and wireless connections. It ensures that all communication between your computer and the internet is encrypted. Note: TrustConnect comes with Comodo Internet Security Pro, but is also offered for free by clicking the second link above.

 

Secure Deletion

Heidi Eraser
http://eraser.heidi.ie/
Eraser is an advanced security tool for Windows which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. The software erases files, folders and their previous deleted counterparts. An intuitive user interface and simple right-click deletion of any file on your PC make this a great tool.

Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN)
http://www.dban.org/
Darik’s Boot and Nuke (“DBAN”) is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction. This is a great tool to use if you are disposing of a hard drive or selling/donating a PC and want to ensure all of your data is removed beforehand.

 

Web Content Filtering

Open DNS
http://opendns.com 
OpenDNS is the leading provider of free security and infrastructure services that make the Internet safer through integrated Web content filtering, anti-phishing and DNS. OpenDNS allows you to secure your network from online threats, reduce costs and enforce internet-use policies.

Blue Coat K9 Web Protection
http://www1.k9webprotection.com/
K9 delivers comprehensive protection against web threats automatically. With K9, you get the same advanced Web filtering technology used by enterprise and government institutions worldwide — all with a user-friendly interface that allows you to control Internet use in your home.

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