By the ZoneAlarm Team
Whether you shop online, pay your bills or research your next vacation destination, no matter how often you surf the Web, all PC users need Internet security to protect vital information that can be used in identity theft or to prevent viruses from damaging the computer. An all comprehensive security suite could run you about $50 and some are just not willing to spend the hard earned cash. To make sure all consumers have access to essential security tools, here are a few alternative options that offer basic protection for FREE:
- Start with Antivirus. Yes, you need antivirus, and there are lots of options out there. In the free world, AVG, Avast and Avira are the most popular. How good are they? Many tests suggest that free antivirus is potentially just as good at protection as paid antivirus, but there are other factors like customer support and overall performance and reliability to consider.
A strong firewall is a must have. Whether paid or free, even the best antivirus solutions miss 1 out of 3 new viruses. With thousands of new viruses being developed every day, antivirus software by itself will sooner or later fail to protect you. A strong firewall that includes “outbound” protection stops viruses and spyware from “phoning home” with your username and passwords to criminals that will steal your identity or break into your bank account.
Windows comes with a firewall, but the outbound protection is off by default. If you turn those features on, you will then get endless alert messages about outbound connections that are too technical for the average user.
Alternatively, you can download the ZoneAlarm Free Firewall – it provides that necessary outbound protection but does it automatically so you are not overwhelmed with technical alerts. It is also the #1 firewall in the world, so it is thoroughly tested and works smoothly with your antivirus software.
Though the above two are by far the most critical, you should also consider the following:
Browser Security. You want to protect yourself from dangerous Web sites that trick you into revealing personal information. Internet Explorer and Firefox do include rudimentary protection from sites like these, but since there are literally millions with new fraudulent sites popping up every day, additional protection is a good idea. Some products like the ZoneAlarm Free Firewall include special browser protection, and there are other freeware options out there.
Spyware/Adware Removers. Spyware is a program that collects private information about a user – such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, credit card details or about computer itself, and transmits it to the internet. Adware monitors what you do online, the terms you search for, the sites you visit, and report this information back to the ad agencies that have created the adware program. It constantly shows disturbing ads and pop-ups while you browse the internet. The manual process of removing spyware and adware programs can be a very hard task, so it would be much easier to use adware/spyware remover tools to do the job for you.
Antivirus software includes anti-spyware, but some times it is good to use software that removes hard to get spyware or some types of programs that AV might ignore. Malwarebytes and Ad-Aware are two of the most popular.
Though you can do a great deal with free software, a premium top tier security suite is still better. They generally cost around $50 (but look for special deals) and include additional defenses that stop more aggressive and complex attacks. They also add things like Parental Controls, Anti-spam, and sometimes online backup and basic PC Tune-up tools.
Whatever path you take, remember that antivirus and a strong firewall are the minimum defenses anyone should have. With powerful free security and good deals on premium security suites, there really is no excuse to go unprotected.