Secure IT Foundation


Essential free security software sites

Firefox – The better browser to use on the Internet. Too many reasons why you should use it to list here, just click on Add Ons and add Adblock Plus. The paranoid out there can use No Script but too nerdy for most people even if good security. Version 4 gives real speed gains on usage and makes the use of Google’s Chrome less attractive, just on speed.

Secunia PSI – Software checker that finds unpatched or out of date software, tells your why and automatically fixes it, where possible. Also reports the security of your Internet browser, tells you if any component is unsafe to use on untrusted web sites. Great tool and great people providing it, we have worked with them commercially, should be mandatory on all home computers.  Microsoft really should just buy the company and make it standard in all Windows computers.

Sumatra PDF – We got fed up with Adobe’s bloat and security issues, and now only recommend Sumatra PDF for reading PDF files. If you need to create a PDF then either use Open Office or PDF Creator.

Microsoft Security Essentials – Free Anti Virus and Anti Spyware software from Microsoft. Replaces Windows Defender if already installed. Initial thoughts are that it is better than expected, and independent testing confirms the quality of this software at detecting and removing viruses. Makes the choice of paying for Anti Virus software more difficult as this free offering works well. Perhaps this is Microsoft trying to make up for previous security sins…

ClamAV – Free cloud based Anti Virus for Windows using the open source signatures from Clam combined with Immunity Protect technology. Runs in parallel with Microsoft Security Essentials on machines with more than 512 768 MB RAM.

MalwareBytes – Free Spyware checking tool for home computers. Paid version runs in real time which is good for Internet Explorer but secure browsing with Firefox and NoScript / Adblock Plus add-ons negates the need for real time scanning which is the main benefit from the paid version. Run once a month to be sure…

Ccleaner – Free tool for removing unnecessary files and registry problems. Can remove files you actually wanted to keep, if set incorrectly but does a good job at speeding up some Windows problems that are normally only available in paid versions.

DriveImage XML – Free backup software that just works.  Needs UAC to be disabled in Vista, 7 before you make a backup. Will take a few hours if you have a large hard drive and the restore can take even longer but most reliable free backup product we have tested.

Trusteer Rapport – free banking security product with additional benefits for other websites if set correctly. See our article here

7-Zip – free open source compressed file software, replaces WinZip and WinRAR. Paid versions of both these zip file programs end up on torrents with a free virus for the ‘crack’. Just use 7-Zip, no crack needed…

Immunet Protect – free cloud based Anti Virus  software to complement your existing AV  product. Out of beta testing but now has a paid version with offline AV capabilities. No longer recommended directly as ClamAV is actually the same product but with a bit more ‘open source’ coolness for the younger crowd…

Open Office –  Why pay hundreds of euros to Microsoft when there is a free and open source product that replaces Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Still has some security issues and long term Libre Office may be the better choice, but that debate has yet to be settled.

Downgraded security software – i.e. we have seen them in the real world and seen them fail badly for people!

ZoneAlarm – free firewall for home use, was once essential, nag screens and adverts for paid versions have made it more annoying to use than the benefits it can add, compared to the Windows firewall combined with NAT home routers. Main benefit, it tells you what software is connecting to the Internet but most people just allow the connections when prompted, so negating its security benefits. No longer recommended if your have a secured home router. If you must have an additional firewall then Comodo is the best of the rest.

Avast Anti Virus – free home Anti virus software, requires registration of email address to use for three years. Has a voice telling you when your database has been updated which sounds cool but not the best performing free Anti Virus and no longer recommended compared to Microsoft Security Essentials. If you do have a licenced copy of Windows i.e. you downloaded it from a torrent, then use Avira Free.

AVG Free – free home Anti Virus software, requires you to ignore the many options presented to go for the paid version – can be annoying if you click on the time limited trial version by accident! Again no longer recommended compared with Microsoft Security Essentials due to its default of daily scanning and limited file scan set. Real world use shows it does let through malware which would be stopped by the paid version. Once essential, now more of a liability. 2011 Version includes functions that need purchasing for full actions to be taken in the non virus related features.

Windows Defender – free anti spyware tool from Microsoft themselves, only needed for Windows XP as built into Vista and 7. Won’t stop anything really dangerous but catches the low hanging fruit with real time scanning. Secure browsing with Firefox is best, but if you must use Internet Explorer then install this, if you have no other anti spyware software already.

In this pile of lesser products, it should be said that from our own real world experience that the worst AV people actually pay money for, has to be McAfee. Norton’s is not far behind and no AV product is perfect but why would anyone spend money on paid AV when the free versions give good basic protection if used with our Level 5  security advice.  Spend the money on an external drive and make frequent backups ! Will give you better long term security than any last gasp defence like AV.

WordPress Blogs – Joe Webster’s blog on computer security for the more technically minded. We even share a motto! – created to educate parents on all the basic techniques that can make their children safe on the Internet (Sadly not recently updated)

Security minded home computer professionals – the founder and main author for the Secure IT Foundation, can be found at Brads Computer Service Station, Abraham Kuyperlaan 97A, Rotterdam, Netherlands for security, repairs and upgrades to any computer.

Yes, there is a difference between Holland and the Netherlands! One is the name of a region, and one is the name of the country…

Note we don’t paid for mentioning these sites, these are just some of the ones we have used ourselves or commercially. Don’t blame us if you use one then your computer blows up or thinks its HAL. All information is provided as free general advice, need specialist or professional advice then engage a home computer security professional before using anything on your computer, we would.


3 Responses to "Links"

thanks for the post

Your webpage is so informative … keep up the great work!

🙂 Regards, Jutta.

Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

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