Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

These days when we pay our bills, manage our bank accounts, store sensitive data in the cloud and frequently buy stuff online you should be more careful about keeping your computer secure then ever before.

Below, I would like to share my favorite essential security downloads that have helped me keep my system secure over the last 2-3 years. Check them out and tell us what you think in comments.

1. AVG Anti-Virus (Windows)

AVG is a free anti-virus program, also a really good one. In the past I have tried Norton, Kaspersky, NOD 32 and several others but finally settled on AVG. It’s been my preferred anti-virus program for the last couple of years. MakeUseOf readers seem to agree Top Antivirus Software. What's your Favorite? [Poll] Top Antivirus Software. What's your Favorite? [Poll] Read More as well.

AVG Anti-Virus- essential security downloads

We have already reviewed the AVG on MakeUseOf before so if you want to know all the details check out Mark’s AVG review here Grisoft Rolls Out 2008 Version of Free AVG Anti-Virus Grisoft Rolls Out 2008 Version of Free AVG Anti-Virus Read More .

To get an idea here are some of the things you get with AVG:

Ads by Google

* real time virus checking
* automatic daily updates
* scans incoming/outgoing emails for viruses
* removes malicious tracking cookies from the browser
* scans search results (ex. Google) and warns about non safe links.
* option control the speed of virus scanning process

2. MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (Windows)

Malwarebytes is an easy-to-use and effective anti-malware application. With over 8 million downloads MalwareBytes is ranked as the 6th most popular software download on Download.com and second in spyware removal category. The users ratings and reviews are pretty good as well.

essential security software

Malwarebytes’ claims to detect and remove malware that many of the other well known spyware removal programs Do you have a Spyware Removal Program? Which one? [Poll] Do you have a Spyware Removal Program? Which one? [Poll] Read More fail to detect. I can’t really confirm that but after using it for about 2 months it has become my primary spyware removal/scanner app. I must admit I haven’t been using this one long enough yet but so far it has done a pretty good job.

While MalwareBytes doesn’t offer as many features as other tools in that category, it has a comprehensive library of threats to protect against. It’s also very light on your system resources.

The program does have a few more options open to you. For instance, it adds a contextual right-click option to scan individual files. This second option is handy for times when you have to download a file that you think is suspect or need to open someone’s flash drive.

MalwareBytes

There are some other handy addons as well. You can read more about MalwareBytes in a previous MakeUseoOf article Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes for Windows Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes for Windows Read More .

The Basic version which consists of a spyware scanner and removal tool is free. The Pro version costs $24.95 and comes with an additional Protection Module that can detect malware before it can do any significant damage.

3. Spyware Terminator (Windows)

I use Spyware Terminator as my secondary spyware removal tool.

Spyware Terminator

I first heard about it from Bill Mullins, a security expert and MakeUseOf author who recommended the app for real-time spyware protection Spyware Terminator - Free Real-time Spyware Protection Spyware Terminator - Free Real-time Spyware Protection Read More . In his own words:

As you can see, Spyware Terminator is my current application of choice in the spyware protection/removal category. Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware apps over the last year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator.

The program is easy to setup and customize, for both less experienced and expert users alike. One noteworthy feature of Spyware Terminator is its ‘Real-Time Shield’ that silently runs in the background and offers strong active protection against both known and unknown threats.

Spyware Terminator

Moreover, there is a simple option to schedule automatic updates and fast spyware scans on a daily basis to ensure your computer is clean.

4. Comodo Firewall Pro (Windows)

Firewall has an essential role in safeguarding your PC. It can block unauthorized remote attempts to access your computer as well as attempts to transfer data by locally installed programs. Unfortunately not many people know about that.

Windows XP and Vista users already have the default Windows Firewall but based on my past experience I don’t find it effective and prefer Comodo Firewall instead (and so do many others).

Comodo Firewall pro

Just like the above mentioned AVG, Comodo Firewall also came out as the best Firewall What Firewall Software do you Use ? [Poll] What Firewall Software do you Use ? [Poll] Read More in our poll. It’s also probably the lightest one when it comes to your precious system resources. For me it takes only about 3.2 MB on average.

Comodo automatically monitors your connection and alerts you whenever some remote computer or locally installed program tries to initiate an unauthorized connection.

Comodo Firewall pro

In many cases it also gives you advice on how to react to the alert.

Moreover, Comodo Firewall also comes with something called Defense + Host Intrusion Prevention System. This security addon helps to further secure your computer against malicious craplets before they can do any harm to your system.

Comodo Firewall pro

Note: Like with any extensive security software if you haven’t used a Firewall before you might find Comodo alerts a little overwhelming. So, keep in mind that it takes some time to get used to.

5. NoScript – Firefox

noscript-firefox With over 42 million downloads NoScript is the most popular Firefox addon out there. So if you haven’t tried it before it’s time to do so now.

To put it simply, NoScript makes web browsing safer by blocking everything that can potentially be used to harm your computer. The includes JavaScript, Java, Flash and other executable content.

Now there is one thing to keep in mind here, while you do get a safety net with this addon, as a novice user at the beginning you might find it annoying to constantly add sites to your “trusted sites” list. For instance, when you visit Youtube for the first time after installing it the videos won’t load unless you add Youtube to your trusted list.

noscript

But the good news, adding sites to the trusted list can be accomplished with a click of a button and you need to do it only once.

noscript

Also for the websites that present information from several sources you might have to “allow” several sites before you are able to view them in full. In such cases you can simply select “Allow all this page” option.

To sum up, NoScript does take some time to get used to but is definitely worth it. Just like like the Comodo Firewall. If you have any questions check out their FAQ page here.

6. Lastpass (Firefox / Internet Explorer)

LastPass is that one password manager you have been waiting for. Unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox’s built in password managers, data in your LastPass Vault is encrypted. The encrypted login details are stored on LastPass server which are then accessible from your browser or any web-enabled computer that you have Lastpass installed on.

It takes about a minute to install and setup.

lastpass password manager

Once you have set it up, you can start adding your accounts by simply going to sites and login as usual. When Lastpass asks if you want it to remember the login details for the site, click ‘OK’ and done. Next time you visit the site lastpass will fill the login details automatically.

You will only need to know one password, that is the the password to your Lastpass account. You will have to enter it everytime the browser is restarted.

lastpass password manager

Once logged in you’ll be able to access your web accounts with a single click. Other lastpass features include:

– auto online form filling
– ability to access your account details from multiple computers
– password generator
and more … Securely Synchronize Your Browser Passwords With LastPass Securely Synchronize Your Browser Passwords With LastPass Read More

7. WOT (Web Of Trust) – Firefox

Another extremely popular Firefox addon. I have been using WOT for about 4-5 months and so far it has been great. The purpose of WOT is to warn users about unsafe websites before they actually enter them. These unsafe site can mean a site known to scam visitors, deliver malware, send spam etc.

WOT uses color-coded icons show ratings for over 21 million websites – green for safe, yellow for caution and red for stop. Screenshot below shows WOT safety icons on Google search results.

WOT firefox -  security programs for computer

As you can see from the screenshot above WOT warns about the first two entries. So I would skip them.

Do you use any of the the above tools? Any others you would want to add to the list? Please share them with us in comments.

  1. ViiRaL
    November 4, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I've been using 360 security over a year, it works like a charm. never found any single error and my laptop is spot on. I recommend it strongly. other then that it depends upon you.

  2. ViiRaL
    August 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Does anyone know about X265 HEVC codec..?? which graphic drivers should install to execute this codec on windows 7 32bit..!! how to run it?

  3. Oktane
    January 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    what about Microsoft security essentials... good free program to have installed?

    • Nicbot
      January 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

      Agreed, but at the time of this article I don't believe it had been released yet.

      MSE has replaced Avast on all my machines now. It's just light, easy, works and no re-registration hassles... :/

      • Zeroday1
        April 19, 2016 at 6:01 am

        Avast, overall, scored comparatively higher than MSE in AV-Test.org's February 2016 testing.

        It should also be noted that MSE scored one of the lowest protection scores in this same February testing, compared with the other 21 Security Suites.

        It should also be of no surprise that a Microsoft product would poor in this category. One good look at WIN10 internals should scare away anyone truly concerned about privacy and security.

        If you still have a Win7 machine-------you are not obsolete!-------That is just a marketing ploy by Monster-soft to get you to stay on their profit-driven band-wagon of worthless innovation-------all aimed at taking away your right to personal privacy, personal freedoms, and most of all-------what it really means to have you own (P)ersonal (C)omputer...

    • Zeroday1
      April 19, 2016 at 5:45 am

      It should be Microsoft 'Bare' Essentials instead of Microsoft Security Essentials. In real-world testing conducted by many reputable labs, MSE pales in comparison to the security programs which have demonstrated a proven record of Excellent scores. Kaspersky, ESET, & F-Secure are just a few of these top-contenders whom deliver the best overall security one could possibly have these days from the consumer market. Both Kaspersky and ESET have powerful anti-virus engines and heuristics as well as a vast array of comprehensive settings in order to truly lock down your system if that is what you wish.

      Yes, some of these higher-end applications require a bit of knowledge to understand how to configure them, but if you're really looking for a good program to install-------when it comes to security in this digital age of cyber-threats-------the last thing anyone one should consider is whether it is free or not.

      Good security is worth the investment...

      History has proven that those whom cheap out usually regret it. Really, you get what you pay for-------but if what you got was free-------then what else do you expect?!

  4. Antivirus
    October 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

    It is true that you cannot always rely on the antivirus software that comes with a computer. My PC came stocked with Norton Antivirus, so I used it. But then I received a message that I believed was from Norton telling me that I had spyware on my computer. I clicked for Norton to fix it, except the message was not from Norton but some criminal hackers who then used it to infect my computer so bad that I had to buy a new one. I now use Spyware Terminator, which is simpler and makes me feel more secure.

    • Aibek
      October 21, 2009 at 1:46 pm

      No, you can definitely rely on antivirus that came with your PC, you just need to make sure it's updated on a regular basis.

      • Nicbot
        October 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm

        I think the issue at hand has more to do with your index finger and mouse rather than your Antivirus software. No offense, but short of disconnecting your computer from the internet completely, no antivirus software can 100% protect you from your self. Education will always be better than the best AV software out there...at least at this point. But for those times when something new is in the process of being learned, tools like good AV, malware and firewall software are priceless. MAM and SAS ftw! ...Combofix for those nasty ones ;)

  5. Markm
    September 3, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Listen People !!
    If you have some pennies floating around, and never want to have your computer at risk of ANYTHING, may I suggest the best... Norton by Symantec.com
    It is simply the best anti-everything!

  6. Longtail
    August 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Oops, that should be Filseclab. I'm using their last version 3.0.0.8686 and it still works tops.

  7. Longtail
    August 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I use xp pro n-lite, no IE installed. I use clamwin as my anti-virus as I prefer to run it manually than to have it always checking. I have used AVG, Avast, and Kaspersky in the past, and my system ran slower, and one of them (can't remember, as it was over 3 years ago) was constantly checking for updates while online. I use dial up, so this slowed my surfing down, besides being distracting.
    winpatrol is great. I like its taking-a-snapshot approach of your system before and after installing anything.
    I believe a good firewall is your best bet. I have been running Filesclab Personal Firewall for the past five or more years. I tested it at Gibson Research Shields Up, and the only thing I had to do was under Rules>new> was add L-port 1026 and 1027>deny for both, and it now shows total ports secure. It will alert you to any programs that want internet access and ask you what to do, as well as have a small unobtrusive bubble pop up in the lower right hand side of screen when a port has been blocked stating which port, etc. This firewall is definitely under rated. After using Zone Alarm for a bit, it was a nice change fromt that program.
    Another thing I do for security is to disable autorun in the registry, changing the value from 1 to 0.

  8. soda
    August 12, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    WinPatrol. Sygate Personal Firewall. Period. (Old WinME system.) Never had a virus or hack in more than a decade (check rarely). More about being familiar with your system. Using a virtual drive to make reinstall of the OS easier seems to break System Restore 'tho.

  9. mums
    July 1, 2009 at 4:17 am

    NOD32 antivirus is far better than AVG! But to have a full protection I advice to choose Eset Smart Security 4.x

  10. nicbot
    April 2, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I've been using Malwarebytes for a long time now and that has never happened as a result of installing the app. Could be a deeper malware issue, or Spyware Terminator (which i have no experience with).

    Hope you got your machine up and running again.

    'sfc /scannow' just to be safe.

  11. Sathish
    April 1, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    After installing Malwarebytes & Spyware Terminator, the system doesn't allow me to login it logoffs automatically once i login. Any one of the above applications went and changed user.exe file in windows. I struggled to bring back the system

    • Aibek
      April 2, 2009 at 2:29 am

      weird, i never heard abt this from anyone before. Malwarebytes is extremely popular program so I am pretty sure it's caused by something on ur end. One way to bring the system back to the prvious state would be to use System Restore, unless you have it disabled of course.

  12. ygtshrn
    March 22, 2009 at 5:01 am

    KeePass is an alternative to lastpass.

  13. ladfrom
    March 6, 2009 at 4:54 am

    A hardware router, with an SPI firewall.
    Common sense browsing.

    Firefox with, NoScript, Adblock+, Foxyproxy, Greasemonkey, IETab, Perspectives, Secure Login, ShowIP, Vidalia, Keyscrambler, FEBE and Haute Secure.

    Used to use Avira for AV as it had the best F/P on, but to be honest I aint used AV for around 6 months and this bloated XP installation is still snappy.

    If I have doubts about a program I just run it in Sandbox.

  14. phaoloo
    March 1, 2009 at 9:50 am

    You can use Comodo Internet Security instead of AVG, MalwareBytes, Spyware Terminator

  15. dann-o
    February 28, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Win-dohs is like a Harley. You buy one, then you have to buy a whole bunch of other stuff just to make sure it runs right and doesn't break down. Buy a mac and you get a 1500cc Honda that isn't flashy or noisy, but goes f**king fast, and does what it should.

  16. L Mohan Arun
    February 28, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I have used LastPass with my IE7 and it made my IE hang often. Had to remove it.
    I can say that this is misleading:
    "The encrypted passwords are stored on your computer and easily accessible when you need it."
    The correct version is:"
    The encrypted login information are stored on a central server which are then accessible from any internetted computer that you have Lastpass installed on.

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:53 am

      May bad, that line of ours is indeed incorrect I 'll get it fixed asap.

  17. 42
    February 28, 2009 at 9:29 am

    McAfee SiteAdvisor

    Does the same job as WOT, works with both Firefox and IE.

  18. ML
    February 28, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Me too, I don't need most of the tools mentioned here except for may be NoScript and LastPass as I use Mac and Linux computers. Since I switched away from the mediocre OS named Windows, I have been enjoying my computing systems and have never got malware or viruses.
    It's obviously true that only 5% of a population are intelligent and the rest are sheep.

  19. Don Clark -Atlanta
    February 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    AVG has fallen from grace for me. I use clamwin.com
    Why is Lavasofts Adaware not listed? and spybot s&d?

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:50 am

      Lavasoft's AdAware is ver popular but I dont find it very effective. It pften missed on craplets that were picked up by others

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:51 am

      Lavasoft's AdAware is ver popular but I dont find it very effective. It pften missed on craplets that were picked up by others. That'd only applies tp free version though, not sure about the paid one.

  20. Anraiki
    February 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    For me:

    Anti-Virus: Avast (If I were to pay: Nod32)
    Firewall: ZoneAlarm (Allows me to see what is trying to connecting )
    Spyware: Spybot S&D

    Firefox Externsion/Plugins:
    Web of Trust
    NoScript

    LastPass and Malware? Anyone think they are necessary?

  21. john
    February 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Vidalia- for http & https proxying
    HostsMan- hosts filtering
    I use clamwin for av and agnitum for a fw that beats comodo hands down.
    Of the 4 above mentioned I need nothing else, except maybe a fresh install of ubuntu jaunty jackalope with it's ext4 filesystem.

  22. Windows Guy
    February 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    You have missed Winpatrol, Secunia and Avira antivirus.

  23. James Moss
    February 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Great list, the only exception is Comodo Firewall. It spreads itself through the operating system like a rootkit, applying hooks all over applications (including throughout the GDI, what is a firewall doing hooking a graphics layer in a completely non-related application).

    The other reason why you shouldn't rely on software firewalls is how insecure they are. Its pretty easy for any accomplished programmer to circumvent them.

  24. Scott
    February 27, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Personally, I have switched to Avast due to the changes that Grisoft made to AVG that causes it to use far more resources than I deem necessary.

    Also, I swear by Spybot Search & Destroy (safer-networking.org) for my anti-spyware/adware needs and also includes a tool that watches for unauthorized registry changes.

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:48 am

      I have SSD installed as well but I find Spyware Terminator better.

  25. Deborah
    February 27, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Thank you for recommending WOT. As Sean pointed out, WOT is a great tool for the average user, but In today's Internet environment, even experienced users can fall prey to online scams, rogue software, phishing and other security threats. Together, the WOT community is working to make the web a safer place for everyone.

    Thank you, MakeUseOf, for helping to spread the word.

    Safe surfing,
    Deborah
    Web of Trust

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:46 am

      WOT is a great secrutity addon. I am sure we are going to be mentioning several times more in the future.

  26. Esa
    February 27, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Thank you for mentioning Web of Trust (WOT). I just wanted to add that WOT is also available for Internet Explorer.

  27. Damian
    February 27, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Good list except for Comodo. Comodo should be on a list of the top 5 pieces of Malware. Anyone who has tried to remove it from a computer would concur, except their still trying to remove the thing. The thing doesn't even have an uninstall option. Download shorewall and build a real firewall for your network.

    • come on
      February 27, 2009 at 5:01 pm

      Did you really tried to uninstall it? because it HAS an uninstaller (or you could use revo or your uninstaller).

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:44 am

      I second the "come on" guy :-)

  28. kseve
    February 26, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    no avast? come on, ive found it much better than avg and avira

  29. Ed
    February 26, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Comodo Firewall comes bundled with it's own anti-virus software so why bother with AVG? Comodo Firewall/Anti-V has a small footprint and the two work like a dream together.

  30. Doc
    February 26, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I prefer YesScript to NoScript for Firefox. You only have to blacklist the sites you prefer not to have Javascript, instead of enabling (and reloading) the ones you need to whitelist.

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:43 am

      yeah but it's not practical, as one of the main reasons people install NoScript because it offers some protection when opening links to unknown sites

  31. xulsolar
    February 26, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I use Ubuntu so I don't need almost any of these apps...just the apps for Firefox. I'm so sorry for the win users, seriously..

  32. g
    February 26, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Avira (in lieu of avg)
    Winpatrol
    threatfire
    superantispyware
    spywareblaster
    autoruns
    hijackthis
    ccleaner

    it pays to be paranoid.

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:40 am

      Hijackthis is also a good one, but it's for advanced users.

  33. Vadim P.
    February 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Ubuntu is a pretty good security tool for the lazy people.

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:39 am

      agree! :-)

  34. Chief
    February 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I've always been a fan of WinPatrol.

  35. Sean
    February 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I didn't previously know about Web of Trust, and I have to say it's a very cool addon. This is something that,for the average user, could probably do a lot more to protect and secure a computer than any of the above applications with little effort involved. I'll definitely be installing it on any new computers I set up.

  36. Nicbot
    February 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    MAM and Comodo are wins for sure. No mention of Avast or SuperAntiSpyware though?

    I've been using Avast+Comodo on Vista 64 for over a year now with no problems at all. On XP I use Avast+ZoneAlarm. Both are great combo's imo. For Spyware removal and protection I use both MAM and SAS when needed.

    I would suggest adding a task manager application such as Process Explorer to your list though. This coupled with AutoRuns can both help to educate and protect.

    • Aibek
      March 6, 2009 at 4:37 am

      I agree, knowing what processes are running on your system is another must. I didn't include it in the original list as I think it's not really aomething for beginners.

      I personally use ProcessLibrary. I set up a quick search for it on Firefox which makes it very easy to lookup the process when i need it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *