Secure your computer from viruses and spyware for free
Facebook has recently launched a new Anti-Virus Marketplace, providing helpful tips and alerts about security issues affecting its users. In addition, users can download six month trials for anti-virus software like McAfee and Norton AntiVirus.
Whilst these are good products, they’re not free and if like most households you have more than one computer in the house, protecting your data can soon seem pretty expensive. Except, there is plenty of reputable software available to download, which offer the same degree of protection and best of all, secure your computer from viruses and spyware for free!
Get a free firewall
A firewall creates a barrier between your computer and the external network that makes up the Internet. By scrutinising the data transmitted between the Internet and your computer, a firewall automatically blocks anything that it considers harmful. If you’re using a wireless network, there’s a good chance you already have a router and most router’s have an in-built firewall to protect you.
To protect you from harmful data transmitted over your home network, you should ensure you have firewall software installed on your computer, such as Windows Firewall. Users of Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 can check the status of Windows Firewall by choosing Control Panel from the Start menu, click System and Security and then click Windows Firewall.
An excellent alternative to Windows Firewall, is ZoneAlarm Free Firewall. If you’re a Mac user, OS X already has a built-in firewall similar to Windows Firewall and it should already be turned on by default.
Download free anti-virus software
When it comes to anti-virus, my favourite is avast! Free AntiVirus and this is the software that I use on each of my computers and install for clients of Berserk Computers who don’t already have anti-virus software. My biggest gripe with anti-virus software is quite often the software is memory intensive and slows things down considerably. Avast!, on the other hand, avoids this problem and works quietly and efficiently in the background.
Anti-virus software is only of best use if you keep it regularly updated with the latest definitions for new threats and fortunately, avast! takes care of this task automatically, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to run the update facility. Avast! is available for both Windows and Mac users alike.
Protect your computer from spyware
Avast! and AVG both include anti-spyware protection but you can take additional steps to protect your computer from spyware (and various other bits of malware) with software like Microsoft Security Essentials. It too works in the background of your computer and personally I find it a better anti-spyware tool than anti-virus tool.
However, the best tool for scanning your computer and removing spyware from your computer, is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free. This powerful tool not only removes spyware but also removes worms, trojans and rootkits, amongst other bits of malware. The downside is it takes a relatively long time to scan your computer, however, the depth and thoroughness of this software is impressive.
Another highly-recommended tool for removing malware, is Ad-Aware Free. The most recent version also includes anti-virus software, although personally I’ve not used this feature to comment. For Mac users, Sophos Free AntiVirus for Mac provides award-winning anti-malware protection.
With these free tools, you can take significant steps to protect your computer from becoming infected by malware and at no cost at all. Some of the applications I’ve provided links to, require you to register by completing your details but you won’t receive spam e-mail messages or be asked to pay. Each of the applications have options to set up scheduled scans that will automatically scan your computer regularly and remove malware. I’d strongly recommend you enable these features at times your computer will be switched on and available to scan, like dinner times rather than 3am, if you turn your computer off each night.
Finally, it goes without saying, always ensure you install the latest updates for your operating system, such as Windows Updates, as quite often malware exploits security holes in the operating system. These updates make patches to close these security holes and protect you further. You should ensure your Internet browser is kept updated as well and use only the most recent version to avoid scams, like phishing, that can download malware to your computer.
If you know of additional security tools that are free and you would recommend them, leave a comment below!