Free AntiMalware Software – And More – For Senior Computer Users

Looking at recent Internet usage statisticsimage, it seems obvious to me that older adults are now realizing that they don’t have to understand the “nitty gritty” of computer technology to send email-mail to friends and family, shop online, play games, make greeting cards, read book and film reviews, look into family genealogy, or find valuable health information on the Internet.

Here’s just one personal example of how older adults have jumped on the Internet bandwagon, and use it to great advantage.

Not too long ago, I ran into some older friends (in their 60s), who had recently gotten home after wintering in Florida. Throughout their time away (5 months, or so), they stayed in touch with their children, and grandchildren – virtually on a daily basis, using the free audio/video communication application, Skype. What a great use of technology!

Like the rest of us, Senior users are susceptible to cybercrime, and like the rest of us, need to protect their computers against the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Viruses, Phishing Scams, and Identity Theft, while connected to the Internet.

Just for the record thought – statistically, it’s the deceptively named“tech savvy” generation, with their often misplaced confidence in their own abilities, who are more predisposed to malware infections and cyber criminal manipulation. Older users it seems, do know what they don’t know. My personal experience with a broad range of users, echoes these statistics.

For those that are members of this newly liberated group of Senior computer users, (who are not aggressive surfers), I’ve compiled a list of free anti-malware, and additional recommended applications, with simplicity of operation in mind – no manuals to digest, no tricky configuration to undertake; just install, and the applications will essentially do the rest.

But first:

Patch your operating system:

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Download and install all available patches, and service packs – if applicable, by connecting to Windows Update. Security Gurus will tell you that 50% of unpatched, and unprotected systems, will be infected with malicious code within 12 minutes of being connected to the Internet. Believe it!

Recommended Security Solutions:

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

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I’ve been running with this application for more than a year, and I must admit – I’m impressed with its performance. It installs easily, sets up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for all users but particularly, less experience users.

Microsoft Security Essentials

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Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. The interface is positively simple – offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan. Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Additionally, Microsoft Security Essentials is free for small businesses with up to 10 PCs.

Immunet Free Antivirus

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Companion Antivirus: a superior community driven cloud based security application, which continues to gain increasing popularity – and rightfully so. In real time, Immunet keeps track of the state of security in the collective community (network), and should a member of the network (the community), encounter malware, you (as a member of the protected community), are instantly protected against the threat.

ThreatFire

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ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my own front line defenses.

SpyShelter Personal Free:

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SpyShelter is free anti-keylogging, anti-spyware program that protects your data from Keylogging and spy programs: known, unknown, and under-development. It detects and blocks dangerous and malicious programs, to help ensure that your data cannot be stolen by cyber criminals.

Firefox 4.0.1

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While Firefox is not technically an anti-malware application per se, with the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy installed, it effectively acts as one.

Firefox 4.0.1 includes hundreds of improvements over previous versions.

WOT

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Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

WinPatrol 20.5.2

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With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs. You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

Keep in mind, malware itself is only part of the problem. The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – is the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying on social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers.

Overcoming the instinctive human response to social engineering (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet, will prove to be challenging . This instinctive response, will pose one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

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17 Comments

Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, Malware Protection, New Computer User Software Tools, PC Tools, Skype, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

17 responses to “Free AntiMalware Software – And More – For Senior Computer Users

  1. kenneth lunkins

    hi bill
    this is what i need for my laptop because i do go wireless for school work
    thanks much
    ken

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  3. Michael Cole

    HI Bill:
    As usual, great, well written, much needed article. All top of the class apps. except for us Chrome users. LOL!! My other change from your list is the not free Zemana AntiLogger . Tracked down free license on the web.

  4. hipockets

    Hi again, Bill

    Another great article. Can’t remember what it was about, but I’m sure it was great!

    Oh – it was about security for seniors, wasn’t it? :>)

    I use the apps suggested in the article (including the FireFox 4.01 add-ons), except ZoneAlarm Free instead of PC Tools Firewall Plus7 and Zemaana Antilogger Pro instead of SpyShelter.

    I also use the ZoneAlarm security toolbar and Norton SafeWeb Lite in Firefox. Neither have ever warned me about potential problems.

    Yesterday I read a disturbing article about drive-by downloads. I can’t remember the website — seriously — :>( — and could not find it through Google.

    It reminded me that a very high percentage of many reputable sites have been hacked, obviously without the site managers’ knowledge, so that malware can be put on a visitor’s computer just by the visitor going to the site.

    I didn’t see drive-by protection mentioned in quick looks at the advertising blurb of the sites of the anti-malware apps listed in the article, or ZoneAlarm and Zemana, and nothing showed up by googling.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2228242,00.asp reported that AVG has purchased Exploit Prevention Labs, a “…developer of safe surfing technology that protects Internet users against malicious web sites and drive-by downloaded exploits.” Nothing was mentioned about when, or even if, the technology would be added to AVG’a products. The article was dated 12/5/2007, but searching the AVG website just now found nothing. It would be a great sales item for the paid versions.

    The things that I intentionally download (in Firefox 4.01) are checked for viruses by something that I assume is Threatfire. But malware developers are known to be sneaky . . .

    What’s your take on drive-by protection?

    • Hey Hipockets,

      ZoneAlarm Free is on par with PC Tools Firewall (I got rid of ZoneAlarm because of the nag screen – drove me crazy after a while).

      Drive-by downloads are a constant concern (I’ve written on this issue many, many times) – it’s estimated that 1,000s of sites are compromised daily – including high value sites. BTW, AVG sites have been compromised any number of times – more than a little ironic.

      Historically, most AV products have done a terrible job of both identifying and blocking drive-by downloads. Since drive-by downloads target browser and application vulnerabilities it reinforces the need to keep the OS and all applications patched, and up-to-date. As well, a browser defense in depth strategy (Firefox with the appropriate security add-ons, particularly NoScript – for example), will go a long way to reducing the impact of a drive-by.

      Browser isolation, in the final analysis, (running Sandboxie, BufferZone….), is the “better way” to defeat drive-bys, since virtualization applications prohibit writes to the HD outside the protected area.

      Social engineering though (click on this Popup), continues to be the delivery method of choice. So, once again we’re back to the importance of user awareness.

      best,

      Bill

  5. I’ve been interested in finding a security set up that needs virtually no input from the user and whilst I think the set up Bill uses is fine I would like to say that the panda cloud av is a lovely antivirus where no input is needed at all, no updating, no cleaning malware, it is all done for you. If you the user has windows 7 then the windows 7 firewall is good enough as most users are behind a router anyway. As for browsing? I recommend using Sandboxie or GeSwall. With this set up my 2 sons have had a year of malware free browsing. I would also like to recommend Blue Coat K9 web Protection, this program is great keeping you away from bad sites, you can also use it as a parental filter but I use it to protect me from spyware and horrible sites.This is just my opinion but it has worked for me and my family with no problems at all. I forgot to mention that all the above the programs I have mentioned above are FREE!
    Andy.

    • Hi Andy,

      Yes, your right, Panda Cloud is well worth considering – NEW – Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.3 Blocks Malicious And Suspicious Websites

      I don’t agree however that Windows Firewall is sufficient, since it lacks controls over outbound connections. While it would be preferable that most users be behind a router, currently that is not the case.

      While it’s true that Sandboxie, GeSwall, BufferZone, armored Browsers, and other virtualized technologies provide unparallelled protection, it’s unfortunately also true that these technologies are not sufficiently developed that a typical user can simply install, set, and forget. The learning curve associated with virtual technologies is a roadblock for average users.

      I congratulate you on your range of knowledge – it would be a blessing if more users were so well armed against cyber criminals.

      Bill

  6. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Got nearly all of these as a result of your previous recommendations. Being of a “certain” age (68), I can confirm that they are all user-friendly for us less technically-minded folk. I absolutely agree, however, that those who are more at home with social networking and other internet phenomena could suffer from an excess of confidence.

    Bottom line is, there is no such thing as too much information on the subject of online security. That’s why sites such as yours, that give guidance based on a wealth of expertise coupled with independent testing, are invaluable.

    As always, thank you for what you do and keep up the excellent work.

    Kind regards
    John

    • Hi John,

      If more users were as “less technically-minded” as you, cyber criminals would find themselves between a rock and a hard place. :)

      Best,

      Bill

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  11. Michael Fisher

    I forwarded this blog post to a *senior* friend & she asked me to pass this on (she hasn’t quite got the hang of roaming the www yet):

    “Thank you Bill for the advice. I’ve gone with all your recommendations except for WinPatrol which is too techy for me. I feel safer now. Regards Adele”

    In addition I’ve instructed her to stay away from online banking & to use disposable credit cards for internet purchases

    So you have a new British fan