CyberNotes
Time Saving Tuesday

There is nothing like using free software to protect your computer, but people are constantly asking me which tools they should use on their PC to keep them safe. Most people who are not familiar with free software assume that it can’t protect their computers as well as commercial alternatives, but in many instances that is not the case.

This article has several purposes, and the main one is to demonstrate the wide range of free security software that is available for you to use. The second purpose is to find out what all of you use! After each section (anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall) you’ll see a poll that is there for you to vote on which one of the applications you use on your computer. This will greatly help people looking for free alternatives to programs because they’ll quickly be able to see what are the most popular applications.

The third purpose is to point out which programs have officially declared themselves as Vista compatible. Green text means that the software is Vista compatible.

So look through the software below and click on a screenshot if you want to see what that program looks like…

Anti-virus:

  • Active Virus Shield powered by Kaspersky (Homepage) for Windows 98/2000/Me/XP
    AOL Antivirus
     
  • AntiVir (Homepage) for Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP
    AntiVir
     
  • Avast! (Homepage) for Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista
    Avast Antivirus
     
  • AVG Free Anti-virus (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/Vista 
    AVG Antivirus
     
  • BitDefender (Homepage) for Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP
    BitDefender Antivirus
     
  • Clam AV (Homepage) for Windows XP
    ClamAV
     
  • ClamWin (Homepage) for Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003
    ClamWin
     
  • Comodo (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP
    Comodo Antivirus
     
  • Cyberhawk (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista
    CyberHawk
     
  • PC Tools (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/Vista
    PCTools Antivirus

Anti-Spyware & Anti-Spam:

  • Ad-Aware (Homepage) for Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP
    AdAware
     
  • AVG Free Anti-Spyware (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/2003
    AVG Antispyware
     
  • Comodo Anti-Spam (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP
    Comodo Anti-spam
     
  • HijackThis (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP
    HijackThis
     
  • SpyBot Search & Destroy (Homepage) for Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista
    Spybot
     
  • SpywareBlaster (Homepage) for Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP
    Spyware Blaster
     
  • WinPatrol (Homepage) for Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista
    Winpatrol
     
  • Windows Defender (Homepage) for Windows XP, and is included with Vista
    Windows Defender

Firewall:

  • Comodo Firewall (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/2003
    Note: Version 3 will be available in a few months with Vista compatibility
    ComodoFirewall
     
  • Outpost Firewall (Homepage) for Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
    Outpost Firewall
     
  • PC Tools Firewall (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista
    PC Tools Firewall
     
  • R-Firewall (Homepage) for Windows 98/2000/XP/2003
    R-Firewall
     
  • Windows Firewall (Homepage) included with Windows XP SP2 and Vista
    Vista Firewall
     
  • ZoneAlarm Basic Firewall (Homepage) for Windows 2000/XP/2003
    Zonealarm

So there’s your (pretty) complete list of free security software. Remember to vote in the multiple polls that are available above because it will give people a good idea of what the most recommended software is. And who knows, maybe it will even give you inspiration to try out some new software. :)

If you’re wondering how some of the software actually stacks up in tests, then here are two articles that will help you out:

For more free software please visit the CyberNet forum.

There Are 35 Comments

  1. Windows Defender find or clean anything…never.

    I’m suspicious about it actually working.

  2. Actually it has found some stuff on my PC before…and believe me, I was just as surprised as you. It’s always hard to tell whether it is doing a good job or I’m just that good at keeping spyware off my PC.

  3. Ryan wrote:
    Actually it has found some stuff on my PC before…and believe me, I was just as surprised as you. It’s always hard to tell whether it is doing a good job or I’m just that good at keeping spyware off my PC.

    You were surprised that it found something? Is this because you don’t believe it works which is what “The Slasher” is saying. If you don’t think it works then why do you use it?

  4. Actually the thing about Windows Defender is that it only find and removes serious threats to PC’s. I mean the down and dirty stuff that’s on PC’s of newbies and novices. These people usually have worms, trojans, and really nasty spyware installed that totally slows and screws their system up. I’ve seen it before many times and when the first Windows Defender came out it got rid of all that stuff, very effectively I might add.

    But you ARE right, I’ve been using Windows Defender on MY PC’s since it came out and it’s never detected anything on my system b/c I’m an expert computer user.

  5. Jack of all Trades

    apparently you can also get a free copy of Agnitum Outpost 4 Pro from something called [trialpay.com]

    but it is not open for all countries, and they claim it is a limited offer. i also do not know what the catch is (maybe you have to buy something from them, not sure).

  6. Rather surprised that the excellent Kerio firewall not listed (in its free version)

  7. @CoryC: I use Windows Defender because it comes pre-installed with Vista and I am too lazy to remove it to install something else. :) I like it because it is unobtrusive and doesn’t seem to kill the performance of my PC at all.

    @Jack of all Trades: The TrialPay stuff is kinda weird how it works though, because you actually have to do multiple trials normally in order to get the software for free. The companies that you are doing the trial for typically require that you give them your credit card information and they hope that you’ll forget to cancel in time so that they can charge you.

  8. That is good very good and useful guide, thanks Cybernetnews Team. :)

  9. Jack of all Trades
    Ryan wrote:
    @Jack of all Trades: The TrialPay stuff is kinda weird how it works though, because you actually have to do multiple trials normally in order to get the software for free. The companies that you are doing the trial for typically require that you give them your credit card information and they hope that you’ll forget to cancel in time so that they can charge you.

    good to know. well, at least they let you to have a free version, and now their new spam program.

  10. Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall comes in a free version as well (which is good enough for me) : [sunbelt-software.com]

  11. I use Sunbelt Kerio free version as well and it works great for me!

  12. Why not save yourselves the headache and switch to linux, at least for surfing the net. No viruses there.

  13. PCLOS user wrote:
    Why not save yourselves the headache and switch to linux, at least for surfing the net. No viruses there.

    There are virus, worms, and spyware for EVERY operating system. Yes, that includes antivirus.about.com]' rel="nofollow">Linux.

  14. CoryC wrote:
    PCLOS user wrote:

    Why not save yourselves the headache and switch to linux, at least for surfing the net. No viruses there.[/subcomment]
    There are virus, worms, and spyware for EVERY operating system. Yes, that includes [antivirus.about.com]

    But it is much less likly to get a virus on Linux, not quite the same impact as with Windows.

  15. CoryC has a good point though. They are on every system, and although they might not be as widespread on Linux they can still do some damage. And the problem is that no Linux or Mac users are ever prepared for such a thing to happen, which makes them sitting ducks.

  16. Yeah, why go through the headache of installing a simple utility, when you can just change your whole OPERATING SYSTEM! …Riiiight.

    When enough people switch to Linux, so will the attackers.
    I guess we’ll each have to write our own O/S. …OR, install decent protection and get on with our lives.

    One of the main reasons viruses, malware, and spam thrive is the ignorance of the average PC user. And for the bulk of the hardware sellers, education is not an attractive product to sell. If people can fire up a PC and use it, they figure they know enough. So the only thing that works is bundling a PC with a big-name AV product as a selling point. That’s why Norton & McAfee sell so well despite being overpriced and overrated.

    Those of us who know enough and care enough to look for something better are not the target market of the big-name sellers. And, funnily enough, not the target market of the attackers either – they don’t expect to reach us, and they don’t need to. There’s plenty of sheep to keep them well fed.

    Maybe some day our schools will teach things like how to use a computer without supporting attackers; how to manage a credit card; how to get along with other races and genders… riiiight.

  17. Binky wrote:
    When enough people switch to Linux, so will the attackers.
    I guess we’ll each have to write our own O/S. …OR, install decent protection and get on with our lives.

    One of the main reasons viruses, malware, and spam thrive is the ignorance of the average PC user.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. And I also wonder sometimes whether it is easier to get a virus to spread between Linux machines since many of them are running without protection. Same goes for Macs…those users will soon have to start worrying about the security of their computers as well since their marketshare is slowly creeping up to 10%.

  18. You are leaving out some free software. How about Jetico Firewall. The older version is free while the newer version is shareware. They are both good products.

    Also, Spyware Terminator is excellent, and they allow you to integrate ClamWin into the interface to get better scanning results. It also includes HIPS protection as an added bonus. Of all the free anti-spyware products I would recommend it.

    Also, one last note, don’t forget CyberHawk is now ThreatFire and it is now owned by PCTools. Anyway, thanks for the excellent list of free security software.

  19. We tried to cover a lot of them, but the truth of the matter is that there are so many security apps out there that it is nearly impossible to know about all of them. Thanks for the heads up though.

  20. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  21. One of the best firewalls I have ever used is Online Armor [online-armor.com] which is available in free and pay for versions. This one really should be on this list. If you want to know about the best and worst firewalls check out [matousec.com] and you would know Zone Alarm Free is not that great of a product while the pay for version is a good product; go figure…

    Yes Ryan I know how hard it is to keep up, I don’t think Online Armor was available in a free version when you wrote this article. Plus the programs are ever shifting and being updated. But that’s where the comments can be quite useful for small updates and for sharing ideas.

  22. I agree with the comment about Spyware Terminator. It has features that rival most of the paid for products -realtime shield protection, HIPS, integrated antivirus (if required), daily updates, scheduled background scans. A friend of mine recently had odd problems, nothing major just enough to annoy him. Internet access slow and hard drive spinning wildly at odd times. He had run AdAware and Spybot along with his virus software but they found nothing. Spyware Terminator found quite a few spyware problems and several adware items that the other two popular apps did not find.

  23. Best firewall is the hardware one. Get a router & configure. I brought a pre-installed Vista from Dell. Comes with Trend Micro. Pretty comprehensive all-in-one package.
    I’ve run the online scanner of ESET & Kaspersky later on but they couldn’t detect anything.

  24. I’m using the Eset Smart Security 30 day trial and every month I just renew it so I use the best ‘free’ anti virus and firewall software. ;)

  25. For some recent performance tests, see [raymond.cc]

  26. I would recommend adding Hitman Pro to the anti-spyware section. It’s a wonderful utility that downloads, installs, updates, and runs several of the utilities you listed above like Ad-Aware, Spybot, and Spy Doctor. The best utility I have found for those who do a lot of tech support. You can show anyone how to use it, or just set it up, click Start, and walk away.

  27. ;)Most successful software
    [serach-and-destroy.com] has been the only software to successfully detect blocks and removes spyware, adware, pop-ups. It is the only one which could defend my computer from hijackers. No other software could do it. It’s simply great.

  28. Hi, Do you have any reviews on DriveSentry??

  29. I keep getting worm & virus warnings,I’ve had Antivir free for awhile now. is there any free antivirus/antispam/firewall applications worth using,or am I being hustled into forking over $50 to $60 dollars a year? Is this an ad campaign,scaring us into shelling out $$$??? The scan on Antivir,(the pop-up,not the program I’ve been running),is telling me things like my documents/photos etc. are infected,is this the truth,or total bunk? I’m tending to think it’s a scare tactic,disguised as an on the level protecetion alert. Any thoughts?

  30. There are no effective viruses for Linux unless your a moron and run everything as root

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