Having worked in IT for a number of years I sometimes get asked by family and friends about security problems on their home Windows computers. There are numerous Security Software Packages available that can help protect you against the various malware/virus that are out there. After testing so many in a variety of different situations I have listed below the ones that I personally use all the time. The good news is most of this software is available free. But, you will find more functionality with the paid versions of course.
Because some people are not expert computer users I’ve broken this article into two different sections. Simply because they may not understand the various alerts that can arise. Although I’ve worked for many companies using enterprise versions of a lot of this software the list below is really appropriate for home and personal use only.
1. Antivirus software Free/Paid
My preference here is to find antivirus software that comes with firewall protection. I’ve been using Norton Antivirus for a number of years, I particularly like their 3 pack version because it offers value for money. It runs seamlessly in the background and is particularly good at protecting my younger children from accessing inappropriate websites.
2. Reputation notifications – Free
I’m not a big fan of Internet explorer because it has way too many vulnerabilities that can be exploited. I mainly use Mozilla Firefox because it gives you the ability to synchronize bookmarks very easily between your phone and the other computers.
When you install the Norton Internet security software it comes with a browser bar that works in Firefox. This helps to highlights websites in Google search so you can see if there are any problems before you visit.
I also like to install Macfee SiteAdvisor which has a built in feature to rate links on a Facebook page.
3. Backup Storage – Free
It’s happened to me a few times in the past where I have a hard disc corruption and the inevitable loss of all data. Sometimes you can use a USB key to back up important files. But, with so many other ways to keep your data safe you have the opportunity to automatically create a backup of all your personalized data on the Internet.
You should have a look at Dropbox as they offer storage that allows you to access it from PC/MAC/Android and iPhone. They have a free option where they will give you 2 GB of free storage space.
Dropbox have a feature which allows you to automate backing up of your photos on your phone and even folders. It can make a big difference in terms of making sure that you do not lose any data again.
You can also take a look at Windows Sky Drive (7GB free space) and Google Drive (5GB free space).
4. Password protection – Free
There are a couple of ways to do this, I use Roboform anywhere for my browser which encrypts and stores your passwords online. It’s also allows you to use this on different computers/iphone/ipad etc.
It makes it so easy when you visit a website because it can automatically fill in all the details at login for you. It’s a timesaver and something I have been using for many years now. This is a paid application version but it will give you 10 logins option for free.
Because I have so many passwords for things like FTP applications I will use KeePass simply because it is available for a number of different platforms like Android and the iPhone. You just need to make sure that you have a strong password to help protect your information.
More Advanced Users
5. Blocking Compromised websites – Free/Paid
Although I will use Norton antivirus to help with this I also use SPYbot S&D simply because it comes with some features to help block malicious websites. Unfortunately these websites have been hacked, which is not the fault of the owner. With this software is looks at the malicious content to make sure that it cannot install any malware. It’s really just the double protection that I like.
6. Its all in the Keys Free/Paid
There are many malicious programs out there that can log your key strokes and record your passwords which are then sent to the hackers. There are many of these Trojan horse applications which are used to steal your identity. Having something like Zemana Antilogger installed can help protect you from these types of programs trying to record key strokes.
7. Block Tracking – Free
There lots of different websites that will track what you do, this helps them to build a picture of what you were doing on the Internet. Which in turn is used to help them understand what you like and target advertising better. You can of course use software like Ghostery which allows you to decide what websites you would like to track you once installed.
8. Protecting your data – Free/Paid
It can happen so easily that your laptop or USB drive can become damaged/lost or even stolen. This issue opens the door for your confidential information to be accessed.
It is especially important if your computer contains personal information about others because in some jurisdictions it is a legal requirement that you protect your data.
If you are transferring data with a USB key you can of course purchase [easyazon-link asin=”B006DUKVSC” locale=”us”]encrypted USB keys[/easyazon-link] that will manually encrypt the data once transferred onto it. This of course can be a bit expensive, if you use something like Integral it can be a little more reasonably priced.
Using something like 7-Zip which can encrypt a single file or even a folder and is password protected may also work for you.
9. Hard-Drive full disk encryption – Free
There are a number of options here, you can use something that is free is Truecrypt which allows you to encrypt the whole disk drive on a PC. I would always recommend before doing this to back up everything.
Malicious software can be installed when you visit a website that can be rolled from Scripps. Using something like the Firefox plug-in NoScript can help to transcripts off automatically and allows you to select what you would like to switch back on.
Colm works with small business in Ireland to help promote their online business and reach new markets. http://www.colmbyrne.com