This is a
dangerous world for computer users.
hour, we hear of new threats designed to
swipe your data, cripple your network, steal your identity and in
general - wreck havoc!
Fortunately you can arm yourself to battle these menaces with several
top software programs. And the best part is that these applications are
free. So strap on your seatbelt and let's get started!
weapon in your arsenal should be anti-virus protection.
Many of the popular and expensive programs tend to slow down PC
performance and require an annual paid subscription. My impression is
that they work no better than their "freeware" cousins.
A good recommendation/alternative is
AVG Free Edition
from Grisoft. This program may not feature every single bell and
whistle offered by some of the more commercially available apps, but it
does provide rock-solid protection with all the tools needed to keep
your system free of viruses, worms and Trojans.
Next in line:
the firewall. A firewall is essential in preventing others from
breaking into your machine. These hackers will steal your data, destroy
your system or attempt to convert your computer into a "spam zombie"
(remotely using your computer to send spam email) so using an effective
firewall is a must.
Owners of Windows XP (Home or Professional Edition) may be familiar
with its built-in firewall, however it isn't particularly effective.
While there are numerous offerings in this category, the
Zone Alarm Free Firewall
is a sure bet for quick, cool security.
Now that we
have anti-virus and firewall protection, let's address a topic I hear
more and more frequently: what to do with all of those pesky passwords?
is a stellar new program,
designed specifically to address this perplexing problem.
Distributed free, KeyChain stores not only your user names and
passwords, but all of your addresses and credit card details. All
passwords and sensitive data are stored under a single master pass
phrase, eliminating the need to recall scores of unique access
You simply highlight and click a password protected website from a
small browser toolbar and KeyChain fills in and submits your log in
details. All data is protected with strong encryption for your safety
-- and it makes online shopping a snap!
Of course no
discussion of computer protection would be complete without discussing
the scrounge of spyware.
Every bit as insidious as a computer virus, spyware seems to multiply
exponentially with new forms of malware limited only by the creative
schemes of the evil geniuses that produce them.
Spyware can easily take control of your machine, opening and closing
your CD bay, serving objectionable browser ads, hijacking your
homepage, logging your keystrokes to steal your passwords and more.
So if you don't have protection against this menace, take action now.
Lavasoft offers a very good free program,
Ad-Aware SE Personal.
There's also the extremely exciting commercial tool,
(it's not free, but it's great!).
While this list
is by no means exhaustive, it will provide the essentials to protect
your PC and data. So don't delay - your computer needs you!
Bill Adler is a
freelance writer based in Georgia. He speicalizes in articles and
papers relating to computer security. Visit his site at