Best Security Software For Your Computer

by The Smarter Wallet on May 30, 2009

So you’ve done your computer shopping? Time to protect your computer from bad bugs!

Whenever we go online, we’re likely to be exposed to a variety of threats that can steal our identities. However, you can prevent identity theft and fight back against fraudsters by arming yourself with different tools and programs which will help you stay aware while surfing. Here are a few tips to get started.

best security software

Best Security Software For Your Computer Plus Online Security Tips

#1 Antivirus Protection

You may not anticipate getting your PCs infected, but even the most innocuous-sounding e-mail can harbor a virus. You can also inadvertently grab something malicious when you open an attachment from a coworker or relative. Rather than put up with hours or days of downtime, you can use an antivirus program that will capture a virus before it becomes a headache.

In the past, I’ve used an older version of Norton Internet Security. It’s easy enough to install the software and let it be my shield, although some security suites might require some manual intervention that will prevent the blocking of sites I’d like to visit. I’ve also heard positive things about Bitdefender Total Security. On one of my computers, I’ve also tried Avira’s free antivirus program AntiVir, and it flagged down several problems on a family member’s PC. Now if I were to try a different antivirus program like Panda Antivirus Pro, I’d like it to be easy to work with.

I’m one of those people who’s always eager to try out new software or listen to free songs offered online by their artists. Though most of these freebies are clean, I still virus check each file I download. When someone in my home uses peer-to-peer filesharing like Lime Wire or ĀµTorrent, I ask them to check their downloads each time.

One more thing I try to remember: I make sure to scan my folders on a regular basis.

#2 Antispyware: Monitoring What Isn’t Easy to See

I visit a dozen or more websites during a day’s work, and I can’t always tell if I’ve collected any malicious spyware. Well, I don’t want the spyware to collect information about me and share it with a criminal. In such situations, antispyware like Webroot Spy Sweeper should be able to help. Using this kind of program, I’d be able to kick strange cookies off my PC and eliminate spyware-related threats.

One antispyware program I’m fond of is Ad-Aware Free from Lavasoft, which has eradicated some security threats for me recently. If you’re running on Windows, you might want to check out Microsoft’s free Windows Defender.

#3 Security on eBay, Craigslist, and Similar Sites

On another note, I’m turning into a fiend for buying comic books and other collectibles online. However, to ensure a good buy, I check the feedback for vendors on auction sites before purchasing anything. If the reviews complain about lost goods or money, I steer clear. And as an added measure of protection, I prefer to use PayPal rather than hand out my credit card number.

I’m also pretty careful whenever I want to meet up with a seller from Craigslist; typically, I’d ask him/her for a meeting in a public location away from my home. I’m willing to meet an online stranger at a fast food restaurant or maybe even the mall. Instead of cash, I normally ask a potential seller if I could use a cashier’s check or money order instead of handing over a substantial amount of money or a check. The bottom line: if you’re in doubt about a potential scammer, then read up on ways and strategies to ensure your safety in online communities. You can also check out our tips to avoid scams.

#4 How To Sidestep Phishing: Don’t Get Caught!

Every once in a while, I encounter an e-mail or pop-up that says that due to an alert on my account, I need to verify some financial information. This sort of scam is known as phishing, and according to the FTC, we can avoid this type of attempted ID theft in several ways.

  • Don’t reply to e-mail or pop-ups that demand personal and/or financial info.
  • Don’t e-mail your personal or financial info; instead, check for secure ways to submit information through an official website.
  • Review all financial statements (bank, credit cards, etc) for fraudulent charges each month.

Also, I like social networking sites, but I’m not too eager to share a ton of private information that could lead to trouble later. Facebook’s Safety page encourages people to keep our passwords private, among other measures.

#5 Firewalls and Encryption

For even more security for those of you who have gone on to start a home business online (or for those who simply spend a lot of time online), check out the possibility of setting up a firewall or using encryption on your data. A firewall can block viruses and intrusions before they become a problem. While ZoneAlarm Free Firewall can provide basic protection, you may want to check this stable of ZoneAlarm firewall products for better coverage; I also like Comodo Firewall Pro, though it requires some amount of manual service.

As for encryption, you can set up an encrypted folder on your computer to hide financial and personal information. TrueCrypt does the job for me, but you may also want to look into ProCypher Encrypt.

While many of us might dislike the inconvenience of protecting ourselves against online ID theft, I’ve learned that being safe doesn’t take too much time out of my day. What about you? Do you have any online safety tips you’d like to share?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrew June 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Good recommendations. Another good option for anti-virus is AVG. I have used it extensively in the past, and a free version is available for home use.

2 Bill July 15, 2009 at 10:30 am

Great write-up! I, too, like AVG. It has served me well the last year or so. Before that, I used Panda. It was good, but not free. Sometimes, you don’t get what you pay for. Norton got too bloated, McAfee has always let me down. Comodo is pretty awesome, too. They have a lot of free tools that are worthwhile.

I’d also suggest a home network router. Linksys (now owned by Cisco) is very good, easy to set up and manage. Just make sure you change the default settings; otherwise, you’re really no better off than not having one at all!

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