All-around computer security
Avast Free Antivirus
This is a great all-around computer security software available for both PC and Mac users. It provides protection from viruses by continuously scanning the files of your computer as well as providing email and web protection. Any viruses found are locked securely in the “virus chest” where you can view the name of, and destroy, the virus. Various on-demand scan options are available. A useful extra feature of this is that Avast has a password manager which adds to its security capabilities.
AVG AntiVirus Free
The AVG AntiVirus Free software runs in the background while you work. It protects against viruses, malware, ransomware, and spyware and stops any malicious downloads or links you may come across while surfing online. Several scan type options are available. The MacOS version also scans for PC and mobile systems too allowing you to make sure that you do not unknowingly pass on a virus or malware etc. to a friend’s device.
Bitdefender is another antivirus option for Windows and Mac which provides comprehensive security against online viruses and ransomware. This also comes with strong anti-phishing and anti-fraud measures while browsing on the web – some free software does not provide this so this is a particularly good point to bear in mind. It runs all the time but there is no option to run a scan on demand.
This is Sophos’ free security software for Windows and Mac users and provides protection against viruses, phishing. Virus removal is not included but the company does provide an additional free software called “Virus Removal Tool” which eradicates viruses and rootkits found on your computer. An advantage of Sophos’ software is that there is Linux free version for those whose computer runs on Linux.
To top-up the security offered by free antivirus software, other free software is useful
This security software comes as standard on Windows computers which use the Windows 7 operating system or above. It provides basic firewall protection against hackers.
Zone alarm provides a more robust firewall option. It offers protection when connected to unsecured networks, such as in coffee shops, and also does online data back-ups. This software is only available for Windows.
Comodo Free Internet Security
This software combines antivirus and firewall security into one powerful product. It comes with the usual anti-virus capabilities but also has some useful extras including a ‘sandbox’ environment in which it will check software detected to be suspicious. This environment cuts the software off from the rest of the computer, ensuring no harm while Comodo checks it. For gamers, there is a game mode which prevents alerts from popping up or scheduled scans from taking place while game playing is happening. A downside is that this software is only for Windows.
Although anti-virus software should protect against malware, if wiping of malware that has already infected your computer is needed, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a free tool that will remove it. Available for both Windows and Mac, the removal tool is fully free but there is also a free trial included their malware scanner which provides extra protection in the event malware gets past your anti-virus.
Acronis Ransomware Protection
A recent development in digital crime is criminals hijacking computers with ransomware – a malicious software that forces victims to pay a ransom before they can access their computer. Acronis is a free software that provides extra defense against this if your anti-virus fails to stop ransomware. It also offers 5GB free online backup.
McAfee Site Advisor
This is a handy tool that will alert you to potential dangers of a website before you click on the link to the website. It provides colored ‘traffic light’ warnings of site safety in search results and if you click on a website that the software deems risky, it will display a pop-up warning explaining why it believes the site to be risky and asks if you definitely want to enter the site.