We've rounded-up our 10 favourite security downloads for Windows that will help to keep your personal information private and secure.
The web is awash with spyware, viruses, Trojans and assorted malware just waiting to worm its way into your PC and snatch your personal information. And while you're at risk no matter what operating system you use, there's no doubt that Windows is the OS most under assault, because the vast majority of PCs worldwide use that operating system.
However, help is at hand in the form of free security software that can strengthen your computer's defences and works just as well as the all-singing, all-dancing, paid-for variety. We've rounded up our 10 favourite free security downloads that are guaranteed to keep your personal information private and secure.
Secunia Personal Software Inspector
Some of the biggest security holes in your PC aren't directly related to Windows — instead, they're in the applications you run. As often as not, that's how hackers and crackers can get into your PC. For example, in the recent 'Pwn to Own' hacker challenge, it was application vulnerabilities, not Windows Vista itself, that allowed hackers to crack Vista.
The best way to protect yourself from this problem is to keep your applications updated with vendor-issued patches. But you don't want to spend your life cruising the web, looking for updates for every app you use.
Instead, get this freebie that does it for you. As a security vendor, Secunia keeps track of software vulnerabilities and available patches. The company's Personal Software Inspector (PSI) scans your PC, downloads a current vulnerabilities file, and alerts you to any software on your machine that is missing security patches. It also warns you if any software is out of date and no longer supported by the vendor.
Out-of-date software no longer gets security patches, and so may be more vulnerable to hackers.
When you get a list of insecure software, you can get more details about each piece of software, open the folder where the software resides, or download a patch. Click the + sign next to the software, and you'll get even more details about it, often including links to any tools for uninstalling the software. You also have the choice of having Secunia constantly monitor your software use and notify you when patches are available.
Secunia says that some programs require tedious or confusing patching procedures, so by default it starts in a mode that shows you only 'easy-to-patch' programs. It's a much better bet to have Personal Software Inspector tell you about all applications that need patches, not just ones that are easy to patch. To make the change, select Settings and uncheck the box next to 'Show only 'Easy-to-Patch' programs'.
Note that Secunia PSI is free for home use, but requires payment for business use.
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