Internet / Network Security
The Cheapskate's Guide to Home Network and PC Security
Peace of mind for penny pinchers
Everyone understands the need for network security. No one wants tofall victim to malware, phishing attacks, or have their computerenslaved as part of a bot net, but times are tough, and budgets aretight. Some people see security as a luxury, when in reality, it is anecessity, but that doesn't mean you have to pay an arm and a leg forit.In this article, we're going to show you some free, or veryinexpensive, tools that you can use to secure your home PC andnetwork.
Antivirus on The Cheap (or free)
Any gooddefense-in-depth strategyfeatures multiple layers of defense to help keep hackers and other intruders out of your system. One of the primarylayers of defense (and all too often, the only layer) is your primary antivirus scanner. Finding a solid antivirus / anti-malware solution is critical.There are some excellent free antivirus solutions that are available. Some of the more widely known and respected ones areAVG Antivirus Free, andAd
Aware Free Antivirus. These two solutions offer some forms of active protection that other "free" antivirus vendors charge for.Additionally, for Windows users, Microsoft offers it'sSecurity Essentialsanti-malware solution for free.For the latest hard-hitting reviews on both free and paid antivirus software, check outAbout.com's Antivirussite for in-depth information.If you're pretty sure you already have malware on your computer and you want to scan and remove it, one of the best anti-malware diagnosis and removaltools I've encountered isMalwareBytes. Their scan-and-clean-type solution is free, however, if you want real-time active protection, you'll need to pay for anupgrade.
Free Firewall Protection:
You might have a powerful hardware-based firewall sitting right inside your home Internet router and you might not even have it turned on.Most home Internet routers feature a built-in Firewall, but it is often disabled by default. Consider enabling this feature on your router. See your routermanufacturer's website for details on how to enable your router's built-in firewall (if it has one).While Microsoft Windows offers an ample built-in Windows Firewall, you may want to check out the robustZoneAlarm Free Firewallfrom Zonelabs.ZoneAlarm has been around for a very long time and is consistently chosen as one of the best free firewall solutions available.Other free firewall options includeComodo FirewallandTinyWall.
For more firewall-related information check out these articles:Do I Need a Firewall?How to Test Your Firewall
Beef up Your Security and Speed with Free Alternative DNS
Your router and or computer is probably pointed to an ISP-provided DNS server. This may not be the ideal solution for security or performance purposes.Consider pointing to a free and open alternative DNS provider for a possible improvement in your overall security and possibly even a browser speed boost.Why might pointing to an alternative DNS server improve security? The answer is that some of the alternative DNS providers offer the ability to filter outknown malware and phishing sites, and may also prevent DNS cache poisoning attacks. Some providers such asNorton ConnectSafecan even filter out"non-family friendly" content such as porn sites.Changing to another DNS provider is a simple task. Check out our article:Improve Your Security With Alternative DNSfor in-depth information on why youmight want to switch and how to make the switch to another provider (for free).
Backup Your Critical Files to Free Cloud-based Storage
The important "stuff" on your computer is usually your documents, pictures, and other personal data. Losing this information is not an option for most of us. Iknow that I would be beaten like a rented mule by my wife if I lost even one single baby picture in our vast multi-gigabyte photo library.I'm sure you have a local backup strategy already in place to protect this information, but you should consider having an offsite cloud-based backup solutionas well so that you don't have all your eggs in one basket.Free cloud-based storage providers such asSkyDrive,DropBox,SugarSyncand others offer plenty of free storage for documents and room for a
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