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
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:
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
Antivirus – Free 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when the virus database is out-of-date to install the latest definitions form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
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.
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.
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
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!
Antivirus – Free Edition
including email scanner
scanner and remover
- Search & Destroy
scanner and remover
functional open source Internet browser
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 firstname.lastname@example.org