What’s in your PC?
(Protect your PC for free!)

More often than before, witness or we hear of someone’s PC being infected or their Internet browser being hijacked by some malicious software called a Spyware. In this age of technology where we tend to be moving towards internet based shopping, banking, entertainment and all kinds of holiday booking, information security and guarding invaluable personal information is becoming more and more important and crucial.


So how do we safeguard and protect ourselves and our personal information against these kinds of attacks on our PCs? Those of you who are working in a large firm are usually quite safe due to the companies’ own network security precautions. These are usually in the form of firewalls, antivirus applications, certain http (internet) content blockers and email scanners.


However how can we protect our PC’s at home? You don’t have to go out hunting for the most effective PC security software package in the shops. This job can be accomplished using completely free software from the comfort of your armchair!


Interested? Then read on… Let’s take each area of a particular security application at a time:


Computer Viruses

The most important threat is usually in the form of a computer virus. These are both nasty and clever pieces of computer codes designed to either cause nuisance or some sort of data or application destruction within your computer. First, you need antivirus software. Among the easiest to set up, upgrade and popular is AVG AntivirusFree Edition. Professional version is also available for a small free which includes extras. However, in my opinion, the free edition is more than adequate for the home user and can easily cope without it. It also comes with an email scanner feature. AVG updates its virus database every few days so you can be sure you’re protected against the latest nasty threats from the Internet. It automatically prompts you when the virus database is out-of-date to install the latest definitions form the AVG web site for free. It’s all automated, so you don’t have to know anything about where from or how to update it. Just click the prompted buttons and it’s all done for you. AVG Antivirus is available from GRISOFT at www.grisoft.com. Please be sure to select the Free Edition. At the time of writing this article, this was available at http://www.grisoft.com/doc/289/lng/uk/tpl/tpl01.


Computer Intruders or attackers

Another important threat is by the intruders from the Internet. You are always prone to being attacked as long as you are permanently connected to the Internet, especially if you’re on Broadband connection. No worries. Help is at hand. As with Antivirus applications, there is an ample amount of free applications out there for the purposes of establishing a Firewall (an electronic protective barrier) between your PC and the Internet. My personal favourite is ZoneAlarm - free version, of course! I have been using this for five years now and it has protected my home PC effectively. It’s not the very best, but hey, it’s free and for the home user it does the job perfectly. You can find out more about it at www.zonelabs.com. It is very easy to set up. Once installed, it takes you through a set-up tutorial which configures your firewall at the same time. Just by accepting the default settings you are protected from intruders straightaway.


Spyware from the Internet

Having guarded ourselves against the viruses and attackers, you may think that you can start surfing the Internet safely without any worries in the world. Nowadays though, just when you thought it was safe, there appears another nasty piece of code called “spyware”. What is “spyware”? It’s a piece of clever computer software that is designed to cause havoc in your PC. What kind of havoc? Well, it can be anything from an innocent piece of code that only sends information about your Web surfing habits to its originated Web site, or it can be as nasty as hijacking your internet browser!


As if this wasn’t enough, an affected PC can rapidly become infected with larger numbers of other spyware. When this happens, users frequently notice unwanted behaviour and system performance degradation. Once in your computer, a spyware can create significant unwanted CPU activity, disk usage, and network traffic. Not to mention stability issues like application or system crashes. Scary, I know, but that’s enough of that. Now, how do we deal with it? Here, again we can rely on the good old freeware applications. I have used many spyware programs and the best ones I can safely recommend are AdAware and Spybot. I have been using them both - as using one alone doesn’t always cure the problem. For example Spybot would sometimes detect and clean certain spyware that AdAware could not detect, and vice versa. Therefore, it’s good to keep them both installed on your PC.

AdAware is available from Lavasoft at http://www.lavasoft.de. Go for the AdAware SE Personal version, which is free. Spybot is available at http://www.spybot.info/en.


Browsing Habits

Since Internet Explorer (IE) is the most popular Internet browser in the World, over the years, hackers were able to find software vulnerabilities and use them to their advantage. When you visit a web site, you are most likely to get infected with a virus or a spyware if you’re using the Internet Explorer. Although Microsoft has improved the security holes of their popular browser over the years, it still has a few holes to patch up. So what’s the alternative? There are several other options to go for. To name a few, there is Mozilla Firefox and Opera. I have switched to Firefox couple of years ago when I decided I had enough of spyware nuisance. I can honestly say my PC has never been the same compared to when I was using Internet Explorer. There is also Opera which is another alternative to Internet browsing. They are both free and are available at www.mozilla.com/firefox and www.opera.com respectively.



I hope I have managed to convince you at least a little to start considering freeware alternatives of the security software that is available today commercially for a fee.

Just to recap, the list presented below should provide you with a decent protection on the Internet. Play safe and happy surfing!





Available at


AVG Antivirus – Free Edition

Virus protection



Virus protection including email scanner





Functional firewall


Spyware removal



Spyware scanner and remover

SpyBot - Search & Destroy

Spyware removal



Spyware scanner and remover

Mozilla Firefox

Internet Browser



Fully functional open source Internet browser


Internet Browser



Fully functional Internet browser



This article has been prepared on behalf of the T.C.E.A. by one its member, Mr. Aker Ozturk, recounting his personal experiences in an effort to aid the Turkish Public.


Further information about issues touched on in this article or other technical papers and help about a range of engineering and technology related issues can be found at the T.C.E.A. website at www.tcea.org.uk  which can also be contacted by e-mail on tceaofuk@hotmail.com or tceaofuk@yahoo.com