10 Free Ways To Keep Your PC Safe - InformationWeek

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8/16/2006
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10 Free Ways To Keep Your PC Safe

You don't have to spend a fortune to protect your PC from viruses, Trojans, phishers, scammers, and snoops. In fact, you don't have to spend a penny.

From the moment you turn on your PC until the moment you turn it off, it's under assault. Hackers try to break into it; viruses, Trojans and worms try to crawl into it; spyware tries to watch everything you do. Then there are wireless dangers, snooping co-workers, and worse.

What to do? You could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on software and services, and spend countless hours trying to keep yourself safe...or you could instead read on. We'll show you ten simple ways to protect your PC without spending a penny.

While some of these products are free versions of commercial packages, others are provided free of charge by hardworking individuals. If you find their services valuable, you can choose to give them a donation. But that's entirely up to you.


10 Free Ways To Keep Your PC Safe


 1.  Get Free Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware Protection 

 2.  Check Your Security Online 

 3.  Get Free Wireless Network Protection Software

 4.  Use A Free Firewall

 5.  Encrypt Your Data

 6.  Protect Yourself Against Phishers

 7.  Disable File Sharing

 8.  Surf The Web Anonymously

 9.  Say No To Cookies

 10.  Protect Yourself Against eBay "Nigerian Scams" 



1. Get Free Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware Protection
If you want to protect your PC against viruses, you have to pay for it...and pay for it...and pay for it. Anti-virus makers these days charge annual fees, rather than a one-time purchase price, so you'll end up paying hundreds of dollars to protect your PC against viruses during its lifetime.

That is, unless you know which applications to use. It's true that companies like McAfee and Symantec charge in this manner, but there are, in fact, two free anti-virus programs that do everything the big boys do: offer real-time virus protection, scan for viruses, and automatically download the latest anti-virus signatures for maximum protection.

One is Grisoft's AVG Anti-Virus Free, which has a companion anti-spyware program. Both are free for private, non-commercial, single home-computer use.

Another widely used free anti-virus program is Avast 4, free for home, non-commercial use. Avast even works with the beta of Windows Vista, something that few anti-virus programs are capable of doing.

As for anti-spyware tools, there are plenty of free ones out there. Ad-Aware Personal and Spybot Search & Destroy are excellent choices, as is Microsoft's Windows Defender. Anti-spyware programs don't always catch the same malware, so it's a good idea to scan your system regularly with at least two anti-spyware apps.



Windows Defender in action. The Software Explorer shows you all the programs running on your system and lets you eliminate any that might be malware.
Click image to enlarge.

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