Everyone now days knows the need to secure his computer with millions of virus and other forms of malware running amok on the internet. In this post I will try to recommend the tools that I use for securing myself. By the way, if you have a Anti-virus running do not think that you are safe. Even if you have firewall running, still do not think yourself as safe. I have many security softwares running and I do not consider myself safe from harm. I am going to recommend a few software that I use in order to secure myself. Some of these are free and some are paid versions.
Avira Antivirus: I use Avira antivirus ( free-edition ) to protect myself from viruses. Avira is probably best free the fast anti-virus with very high detection rate (my opinion). I actually researched a little before selecting this as the anti-virus to shield myself with. See my post on anti-virus selection : My quest to select a good Antivirus for the year 2008.
One downside of using Avira is the nag screen which itself looks like adware. Avira would pop up a screen a few times a week where it would advertise for its paid version. And that ad looks horrible. Everything else is good. If you do not want the nag screen to be there then buy it. I did not.
By the way, Avira has already paid off, as I have been protected several times from virus attack by it.
I have used Norton, Zone Alarm and all other crap firewall at point in my life. But for last few years I have switched to better firewalls. I use Outpost Security Suite which gives me superb granular control over the network access of my computer. But before I discuss that I would like to point to the one below
Comodo Firewall Pro (Freeware): Comodo is a free online security company which sells SSL certificates, Identity Projection etc. They give you a barrage of free security softwares which includes free firewall, free anti-malware and free anti-virus. Now that is what I call a deal, you cant beat free! I have not tried their anti-virus or the anti-malware but I have used their firewall for almost a year and it is rock solid. At that time only outpost had anti leak support. Comodo was the other firewall that gave such detailed control. Now if you are someone who wants to see what is going on at your network then this the the firewall for you.
Check this out: Screenshots of Comodo Firewall Pro running.
Now you might be be thinking … what is their business model and why am I getting a free firewall that is so awesome. This is what they are saying at their web site
“You must be wondering - how can we stay in business by giving away high quality solutions that all other software vendors sell. Simply, Comodo's main revenue comes from authenticating web business with SSL certificates (e.g. we put the padlock on websites).”
Outpost Security Suite (Not Free): I was instantly in love with the Outpost Firewall. Later on I decided to buy the security suite they provided. And I am still using it. It is so far the best firewall I have seen. Outpost monitors everything – and by everything I mean everything there is to be monitored. It can run in a very easy mode for a novice user or a very secure highly detailed mode for the advanced user.
It has 3 level of rules, Low Level Rules, Global Rules and then the Application rules. You can modify each. It has superb host projection and critical system components like registry and startup items protection. Here are a few screen shots of the host protections configurations screen and the web control configuration screen and finally the application configuration screen.
Also outpost has extremely powerful network connections and log views.
Outpost is my first choice, but if you do not want to spend money then you still have option to use Comodo.
Even after you have used anti-virus and firewall software there could be unknown malwares hidden in your PC (outpost detects keylogging attempts usually). Someone could have written a custom keylogger software that no anti-virus would be able to detect. Such event could be your worst nightmare. Not only the hacker will have access to you computer password but he may have your office email passowrd, your personal email password, your credit card number, your paypal account password, your facebook password etc. Think of what would your life if someone has those and used your logins for his benefits. So it is best to have anti keylogging software installed.
Keyscrambler (Free and Paid): KeyScrambler is a software that installs as a kernel mode driver and encrypts the keyboard strokes and decrypts them at the application that you are using. So any keylogger software that is trying to get a hold of the keystrokes will have a set of scrambled meaningless junk.
The free edition of Keyscrambler support IE, Flock and Firefox browser and that should take of most of you. However I use Opera as my primary browser, and flock as secondary browser and do not use IE at all, so had to buy the paid version to support Opera and the messenger softwares like, MSN, GTalk, Yahoo, Skype. The paid version also supports outlook, thunderbird, office applications.
When ever you are using internet on a non secured connection a hacker might intercept the data and steal you data and passwords. Also your ISP can track what site you are visiting, they can see your email messages and IM chat text if they want to. However you can avoid this unsecured scenario with a VPN service. When you are connected to a VPN connection the data is encrypted and cannot be decrypted. There are many VPN services available. When you connect to these VPN service the data is decrypted at the VPN server and sent from there, so no one can track your internet footprint.
I use a 1 year VPN service from a commercial VPN provider and when ever I access sensitive information I connect to the VPN service. One cool thing about this provider was access to Pandora music web site. Pandora only allows you to listen if you are in the US. Since the VPN service is at US, when I connect to it, it detects my location to be in US and lets me listen to songs.
Password Manager & Encrypted Disk (Freeware)
KeePass: There are several password managers available but I use KeePass, an open source password manager which seemed most advances and robust. Try it.
True Crypt: I also use TrueCrypt to mount a drive where I can store all my sensitive data in encrypted format. Truecrupt is also a free open source application. One good feature in TrueCrypt is plausible deniability. You can create hidden volumes within a TrueCrypt volume where you will store the real sensitive data and in the outer volume you can store some sensitive looking files. If someone tortures you and asks you for password then you can tell them the password to the outer volume and they will think you have given the abductor the right password.
FreeOTFE: For storing sensitive data one windows mobile phones you can use Free OTFE which lets you have encrypted drive in a windows mobile phone.
I hope this post have been helpful to solve your security problems.