Category Archives: Free Firewalls

Best Free Security Applications – The Hot Naked Truth!

imageWithout a doubt, the most popular question that comes my way, in one form or another is – which antivirus application(s) would you recommend?

This question is asked so often; I think it’s probably a good idea to answer it in a post every six months, or so.

My response:

Let me answer this by telling you what I run on my principal home machine. But, before I do, let’s talk a bit about Host Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS) since, as you’ll see, more and more security applications are including HIPS – or a combination of HIPS, and behavior based blocking components.

There’s not much point in reinventing the wheel, so I’ll go with this description of HIPS/behavior blocking, from About.com:

A host intrusion prevention system (HIPS) monitors each activity a program attempts and (depending on configuration) prompts the user for action or responds based on predefined criteria. Conversely, behavior blockers monitor and profile whole program behavior. When a collection of behaviors tips the scale, the behavior blocker will (depending on configuration) alert the user or take action against the entire program based on predefined criteria.

Though they sound similar, HIPS is application-level control (i.e. this program is allowed to do X but not Y), whereas behavior blocking is more cut and dry – the entire application is either good (allowed) or it is not. Fortunately, many of these types of products combine both.

Got that? Good.   Smile

Despite the fact that I’m provided with a free license for all the security applications I test, I have chosen to run with the following applications.

Microsoft Security Essentials (free) – an all-in-one antimalware application.

Immunet Protect – a free Cloud based companion antimalware application.

ThreatFire (free) – this application is built around a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), and behavior based blocking combination. I’m currently testing a new HIPS application – NoVirusThanks EXE Pro – and I’ve been more than impressed to see ThreatFire step in and prevent any system changes by NoVirusThanks – until I approve those changes.

WinPatrol (free) – another HIPS application with considerable additional functionality. WinPatrol is the elder statesman of this application class and, it just keeps on getting better. A must have application.

PC Tools Firewall Plus (free) – PC Tools Firewall Plus is advanced Firewall technology designed for typical users, not just experts.  The “plus” refers to a HIPS component. Generally, if the ThreatFire HIPS component is triggered on my machine, PC Tools Firewall Plus is triggered as well.

When the NoVirusThanks EXE Pro review is posted shortly, you’ll see screen capture evidence of this.

Zemana AntiLogger (paid) – In my view simply the best keylogger defense available.  AntiLogger includes a System Defense module that works similarly to HIPS – to protect the whole system.

As an illustration, the following screen capture shows the System Defense module blocked NoVirusThanks EXE Pro (the application I’m currently testing), until I gave permission.

image

Each of these applications has been reviewed (some several times), on my site. You can follow the links below to specific review articles.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Immunet Protect

ThreatFire

WinPatrol

PC Tools Firewall Plus

Zemana AntiLogger

Finally, additional Browser protection is a critical ingredient in overall system protection. I recommend that you read the following article here – Updated: An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons.

Yes, the title of this article is more than a little off the wall. My blogging buddy TechPaul, made the point not too long ago, that manipulative key words like hot, naked, sex, boobs, nudity …….. well, you get the point – unfairly capture readers attention. I’m testing that theory.  Smile

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Security Programs, Freeware, HIPS, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

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:

image

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:

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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:

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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

A Reader Wants To Know….

imageWe receive a wide variety of questions here, from the very simple, to the complex – all of which are equally as interesting. The following thought-provoking questions were all recently posed by a reader.

Which Antivirus application(s) would you recommend?

Let me answer this by telling you what I run on my principal home machine. Despite the fact that I’m provided with a free license for all the security applications I test, I have chosen the following applications.

Microsoft Security Essentials (free)

Immunet Protect – a free Cloud based companion antimalware application.

ThreatFire (free)

WinPatrol (free)

Pc Tools Firewall Plus (free) – I recently changed from ZoneAlarm (free), since I finally tired of their incessant ads.

Zemana AntiLogger (paid) – I’ve managed to pick up a free license each of the last 2 years, however.

Each of these applications has been reviewed (some several times), on my site. A site search using the search box will lead you to the relevant article/s.

How many Antivirus application(s) should I have installed on my laptop.

Typically the answer is straightforward – one (in order to avoid potential conflicts). However, nothing is really straightforward with a computer. For an in-depth answer, please read Can I Install And Use More Than One Antimalware Application? on my site.

Which Firewall would you recommend?

Over time, I have installed virtually every available Firewall, and I must admit, my favorite has always been ZoneAlarm – not only for its effectiveness, but also for its ease of use. As I said earlier though, I recently made the change back to PC Tools Firewall Plus – a Firewall I’ve used in the past that is as effective and as easy to use as ZoneAlarm (without the annoying ads).

Comodo Firewall, which you’re presently using, is an excellent application. I’ve used and reviewed this application in the past, and I have no difficulty in recommending it.

Which Malware/Spyware application(s) would you recommend?

Since Microsoft Security Essentials combines both antivirus, and antispyware in the same application, this is a very workable solution. Additionally, the issue of maintaining good control over system resource usage is addressed by employing this combination.

How many Malware/Spyware applications should I have installed on my laptop?

The same answer applies here as in the Antivirus question.

Which Backup and Recovery program(s) would you suggest?

The principal issues affecting backups are determined by how (the skill level of the user), and for what purpose, a computer is used. Typically, average users are convinced that backing up is beyond their knowledge level, and so avoid this necessary chore.

The reality is, major advances have been made in the development of simple, “push button” easy, backup applications. There are a many applications to choose from, both paid and free, and the one I’m very enthusiastic about at the moment is Free EASEUS Todo Backup. You can reread my recent review of this application here.

Which registry cleaner would you recommend?

Registry Cleaners are often referred to as the “snake oil” of the computer industry. There is a major difference of opinion concerning the value of these applications.

Generally speaking, it’s my view that this type of application should not be used by an average user – except for a very mild cleaner, such as Ccleaner, which I do, in fact, highly recommend.

There are times when a powerful cleaner, (such as RegSeeker), in skilled hands, can be beneficial.

Which Anonymous Surfing application would you recommend? (My privacy is mine and important to me).

I’ve reviewed and recommended quite a number of such applications here, but the application I’m most partial to (at the moment), is Free Hotspot Shield. You can read the latest review of this application here.

Finally – while you mentioned WOT and SnoopFree Privacy Shield, additional Browser protection is a critical ingredient in overall system protection. I recommend that you read the following article here – An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

23 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Backup Applications, Browser add-ons, Computer Tools, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Security Programs, Interconnectivity, PC Tools, Point of View, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

Planning On A New Christmas Computer? Security Precautions To Consider

imageWe are now officially in the “Holiday Season”, so along with those visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in your head, you just might have visions of a super hot, quad core beast, that you can rip the wrapping off of after Santa has dropped down your chimney.

So if you’ve been good this year, and Santa does drop off that new screaming machine, no doubt you’ll want to put it through its paces right away. But before you test drive this new machine, there are some fundamental precautions you need to take before you connect to the Internet.

Patch your operating system:

image

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!

Install a Firewall:

image

Windows 7 comes with a vastly improved Firewall – substantially better than in previous versions of the operating system. Still, many techies consider third party applications more effective.

There are a number of free firewalls that are worth considering. The following are three that do the job particularly well. (Choose only one)

Comodo Firewall Pro:

Comodo Firewall (last updated November 11, 2010), protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I ran with this application for 18 months during a long term test, and I felt very secure.

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

Having tested this application for more than six months I was impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and did not caused any conflicts on my test machine despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users.

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2010:

ZoneAlarm’s default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users particularly. Experienced users on the other hand, can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

Install anti-virus software:

image

There is no doubt that an unprotected computer will become infected by viruses and malware within minutes of first being connected to the Internet. There are many free versions of anti-virus software available, and the programs listed below have a well justified reputation. (Choose only one – although Immunet Protect will run successfully as a companion application).

Avira AntiVir Personal:

This anti-virus program offers comprehensive protection with an easy to use interface. In the time that I have been testing Avira I have been impressed with its performance, and I have come to rely on it as my primary anti-virus program on an XP Pro system. I highly recommend this one.

Panda Cloud Antivirus:

I’ve been testing the Beta version of Panda Cloud Antivirus since the end of April 2009, off and on, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with it’s performance, particularly the light use of system resources. This application is definitely not a resource hog, and I found it outstanding at recognizing and blocking malware threats.

Immunet Protect 2:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a fee version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions. You’ll find Immunet Protect straightforward to install, and easy to run without complication.

Install Anti-spyware and Adware Software:

image

It’s not only a virus that can put your computer down for the count, but a multitude of nasties freely floating on the Internet. Listed below are a number of free programs that offer very good protection against malware.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft last year as a free  replacement application for Windows Live OneCare. Microsoft Security Essentials is easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. And, the interface is positively simple offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan.

Spybot Search and Destroy:

Spybot Search & Destroy can detect and remove a multitude of adware files and modules from your computer. Spybot also can clean program and Web-usage tracks from your system, which is especially useful if you share your computer. Modules chosen for removal can be sent directly to the included file shredder, ensuring complete elimination from your system.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. I highly recommend this one!

Additional security protection:

image

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on which tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

SpywareBlaster:

SpywareBlaster prevents ActiveX-based spyware, adware, dialers, and browser hijackers from installing on your system by disabling the CLSIDs (a system used by software applications to identify a file or other item), of spyware ActiveX controls. As well, SpywareBlaster can block spyware/tracking cookies and restrict the actions of spyware/adware/tracking sites in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers.

WinPatrol:

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.

SpyShelter:

SpyShelter is an 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.

Note: Keep in mind however, that even the best layered protection strategy will not make up for lack of experience, and intuitiveness, when surfing the Internet. So, I’ll repeat what I have said here, many times – “knowledge, awareness, and experience are critical ingredients in the escalating battle, against cybercriminals.”

This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it is a good place to start.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

22 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Cloud Computing Applications, Comodo, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Malware Protection, Microsoft, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Is ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2010 The Best Firewall For You?

imageI’m always surprised when I get asked “The Firewall” question – why do I need one? The answer is always the same – a Firewall, either Hardware or Software, is designed to block unauthorized access to your computer from the Internet, at the same time permitting protected authorized communications – provided it includes outbound protection.

Most casual users that I come into contact with believe that Firewalls need to be expensive to ensure that they get the job none. But, that’s not always the case. ZoneAlarm, for example, is a very robust, uncomplicated, free Firewall, which is non- intrusive, and very appropriate for casual computer users – and gets the job done.

ZoneAlarm Free (last updated November 23rd, 2010), was the first Firewall I installed on a personal system, and that was back in the early days of Internet connectivity – 1996. After all these years, ZoneAlarm Free continues to be my all time favorite free Firewall.

Here’s why:

In my 14 years of experience with ZoneAlarm Free, never once has it let me down.

It’s the least intrusive free Firewall that I’m aware of – Firewalls that demand attention every 5 minutes drive me crazy!

It provides strong inbound intrusion detection, coupled with strong outbound protection. Outbound protection is an absolute “must have” today, since the botnet threat continues to escalate. ZoneAlarm will prohibit botnet connections.

ZoneAlarm’s “stealth mode” keeps my computer invisible on the Internet. If I can’t be seen by cybercriminals, my risk exposure is reduced substantially.

ZoneAlarm Free continuously monitors Internet activity through its True Vector Internet Monitor, and notifies me with an alert if it detects an unsafe, or disallowed activity.

Fast facts:

  • DefenseNet – Leverages real-time threat data from community of millions of users to detect and block the latest attacks.
  • Inbound Firewall Protection – Stops hackers and other intrusions by making your PC invisible online.
  • Outbound Firewall Protection – Blocks spyware, botnets, and other malware from sending your personal data out to the Internet.
  • Quiet and Automatic – Runs in the background, un-noticed and out of the way, with rare alerts.
  • Anti-phishing and Site Check – Toolbar blocks fraudulent websites including those that trick you into entering personal data.
  • Identity Guard – Provides credit scores and recovery services to secure your identity online and offline.
  • Works with all Antivirus – Compatible with antivirus software, such as AVG and Norton Antivirus.

What you need to know:

image

The program settings screen is definitely new user friendly, as the following graphic illustrates.

image

The graphic below illustrates  a security popup since a new application is seeking first time access to the Internet. Users have the opportunity to allow, disallow, and with a checkbox tick, have ZoneAlarm automatically remember the response.

image

The activity log can be particularly valuable for more experienced users.

image

ZoneAlarm’s default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users particularly – and despite the hype put out by media, most computer user can be classified as having limited system experience.

Experienced users on the other hand, can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

If you are a casual computer user, ZoneAlarm Free is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

The following graphic illustrates ZoneAlarm’s protection details, on one of my systems, over a 60 day period.

image

System Requirements: Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit ), Vista, XP SP2 or SP3.

Download at: the developer’s site (Check Point Software).

Note: Test your existing Firewall at Steve Gibson’s site – ShieldsUP! If your current Firewall is not in stealth mode (this test will confirm it), and if it can’t be forced into stealth mode, then you should consider changing your Firewall application.

Note: If you are currently running Windows Firewall, then installation and setup is a breeze since you have the opportunity to turn off this Firewall. On the other hand, if you are running another Firewall, it’s important that you uninstall
this application (use the applications built-in uninstaller), before installing ZoneAlarm Free. I mention this as a precaution only, since it’s as likely that you won’t encounter any difficulties. But……..

If your current Firewall does not include a built-in uninstaller, then use Revo Uninstaller which will delete the application including the applicable Registry entries.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

17 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Software, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Heading Back To School? Make Your Life Easier And Checkout These Free PC Applications

School is in and let’s face it, you’ll need to trim your expenses this year and software applications that cost hundreds of dollars are not going to be number one on your list of must haves. Well, they don’t really need to be.

There’s a ton of tried and tested free software out in the wild blue of the Internet, that will meet virtually every need you’re likely to have this school year.

Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

OpenOffice

OpenOffice 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages including Microsoft Word.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day), for years and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application for channels of internet video (also known as ‘video podcasts and video rss). Miro is designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience.

VLC:

A highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Free FLV Converter:

This free software let you search YouTube and dailyMotion videos without opening your browser and you can even watch the videos using the built-in video player.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video.

Better browsing:

Firefox:

Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

The fastest browser on Earth is even faster. But that is not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect 2 – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Zone Alarm Firewall:

If you are a casual computer user, Zone Alarm Free is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live messenger:

The next generation MSN Messenger. It comes with everything that were already available in Messenger, and a new IM Initiative that makes helping your favorite charity as easy as sending an instant message.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

Skype

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:

WinPatrol:

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.

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Autoruns:

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

Have a great school year!

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

10 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Audio Applications, Browser add-ons, Browsers, Cell Phone Apps, Computer Maintenance, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Office Suites, Free Photo Applications, Free Word Processors, Media Players, Microsoft, MS Word Alternatives, Open Office, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, System Security, System Utilities, Video Apps, Video Calling, Windows Tips and Tools

Free and Easy Anti-Malware Solutions for Senior Computer Users

image According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40% of of people 65 and older, have a computer at home. Of this total, approximately  25% of these individuals are connected to the Internet.

I’m sure these numbers are now even higher, since these statistics were taken from the census of 2005. In Canada, where I live, recent statistics indicate older adults are the fastest growing group of computer buyers and internet users. Who knew!

It seems obvious that older adults are now realizing that they don’t have to understand computer technology to send email-mail to friends and family, for example, or 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 a great example of how older adults have jumped on the Internet bandwagon, and use it to great advantage.

imageI just ran into some older friends (in their 70s), who had recently gotten home after wintering in Florida – in Canada, we call these people Snowbirds.

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!

Just like the rest of us though, 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.

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 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.

Recommended Security Solutions:

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2010

image

– The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users particularly. This application is as close to “plug and play”, as it gets, and will not get in your face as some other Firewalls tend to do .

Microsoft Security Essentials

image

– 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.

Firefox

image

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

WOT

image

– 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

image

– This program uses a simple yet effective method of fighting all kinds of malicious programs.

ThreatFire

image

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.

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.

Well known software developer Comodo Group, has developed a new Internet video series, Really Simple Security, published on a dedicated YouTube channel, that makes it easier than ever for an average user to become much more proactive in their own protection. You’ll find this Internet video series enormously helpful.

Safe surfing!

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

8 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Comodo, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, Microsoft, Older Adult Computer Users, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP