Category Archives: Security Software

Free antivirus software – How effective is it?

Are you tired of paying for commercial antivirus software? Antivirus software providers are savvy about turning the cost into a required annual financial outlay to allow you to continue to receive current antivirus signatures. I always anted up the cash because I was not willing to go unprotected and increase my risk of picking up a nasty system damaging worm or virus.I was also skeptical about free antivirus solutions dismissing them as inferior without ever giving them a fair shot. I give Norton and McAfee a lot of credit they convinced me that I should not consider free alternatives without direct marketing campaigns saying so.

My epiphany came when the 3 month free Norton subscription ran out for my new Gateway laptop. I decided I no longer wanted to continually pay for antivirus software and committed to giving free alternatives a real chance. After doing some research I narrowed down my list of contenders to AVG and Avast Free Antivirus. After completing my research I decided to go with Avast and have been delighted with my experience using their free antivirus product. Avast free antivirus seems to update itself as frequently as its commercial competition and  has an easy to use user interface as well. I use the Avast product in an identical manner that I used to use Norton and have had no negative effects to my pc in over 6 months of use. I have been converted from a free antivirus skeptic and will never go back to using a commercial offering as long as quality free options like this exist. Consider your own antivirus needs and consider if the commercial product you are using is worth the 30-50$ a year per machine fee when you can get equivalent protection by using Avast.

Quick summary:

Who should be using free antivirus?

Individuals who need protection for their personal systems and balk at the recurring fees commercial offerings charge

Who should continue using commercial products?

Businesses that require more central control and administration of their antivirus solution

Be sure to check out our review of the top 5 free security tools.


Free Security Software – 5 free must use security tools

Need security for your computers but on a budget of $0? Free security software is available to assist with your dilemma. A few years ago acquiring free security software often carried a risk of picking up unwanted malware or an annoying every other second registered version offering. Luckily for you, the quality of free security software has risen dramatically and it no longer carries the stigma of being inferior products.

Top 5 Free Security Software Tools

1. Avast Free Antivirus – Previously, I was always skeptical of free anti-virus products and considered them a novelty. My Norton subscription for my new pc recently expired and I decided to give this software a legitimate chance since I had heard good things. I am very glad that I did this is a first rate freely available software package with signature updates that rival it’s subscription based rivals. If you are not already getting AV via your broadband provider be bold and save 30-50$ a year per machine by using Avast.

2. LastPass -Despite well publicized security events that happened awhile ago, LastPass is a first rate company that makes a high quality freely available password manager that should be in your free security tool arsenal. LastPass is a life saver for managing the essential process of creating unique user ids and passwords across the web to help minimize the risk of reusing accounts or passwords. LastPass also helps me save my brain cells and avoid wasted time of resetting forgotten passwords which is bound to happen to anyone creating unique passwords for each site. LastPass is more secure then using either browser saved credentials or managing your credentials via another unencrypted document like word or excel. To help minimize your risk of a LastPass credential compromise I recommend changing your master password every 90 days or if you receive a notice from the company about potential security issues (which hopefully was a one time occurrence).

3. TrueCrypt – Freely available encryption software for your computer or USB related drives and works on multiple OS’s including Windows, Mac, and various Linux distributions. Disk encryption is an essential security control to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands if your pc or portable storage device are lost or stolen. I have just recently started using this software but like what I see so far.

4. Qualys BrowserCheck – Your internet browser is one of the most attractive targets for attackers to infect your system so keeping your browser and installed browser plugins up to date is mandatory to maintain optimum system health. Qualys has developed a useful browser plugin that helps validate you are operating at a fully patched and protected level. Qualys is a trusted high end security company and they have made a valuable contribution to your free security tool bench.

5. Microsoft Security Essentials – Security vendors often advise not to run multiple malware/anti-virus packages at the same time due to incompatibilities. I have had no problems running MSE with either Norton (previously) or Avast so I will continue using the Microsoft Security Essentials package. I was uncomfortable relying on it as my sole protection but it is an excellent secondary control for the Avast package I am using as the primary. If you are looking for personal firewall protection I recommend the Microsoft supplied option as well.

I am actively using or have in the past used all of these free products so feel free to ask a question if you are having problems or provide other recommendations if you have other free security tools that are working well for you.