All computers connected to the net should have these basic forms of protection. There are plenty of Anti Spyware, Anti Virus and Firewalls out there and you could end up paying a small fortune, and its not just one off purchases, most will require yearly subscriptions.
There are however a few very good and not so well known programs out there on the net for free.
I currently use a program by Microsoft called Windows Defender, this program controls spyware, monitors programs you have downloaded and monitor internet downloads. It just sits in the background doing its job and of course its free. Another notable anti spyware program is called Spybot Search and Destroy. This has a whole host of functions to protect your PC and is well worth downloading. If has both a simple and advanced user interface so is suitable for novice and the more experienced user. Both these programs also have the ability to lock your browsers home page to what you want it to be. How many times have you opened your browser to find the homepage has been changed without your knowledge ?
Quite proberbly the single most important peice of sofware you need to have. An anti virus can save you many hundreds of pounds as some viruses out there can damage drives and make your PC unusable. Most PCs come with a certain amount of free protection, normally you get something like a 30 day free trial then you have to pay. Well, theres a great program out there called AVG Free. Its a great little anti virus which updates itself daily and will protect against known viruses. On the odd occasion when it picks one up and it cant handle it AVG renders the virus safe by either deleting it or rendering it inactive. AVG Free is simple to use and once installed will keep itself updated.
There are a few free firewalls available on the internet. I personally use Zonealarm, again, its a free program and keeps itself updated. A firewall prevents other users of the internet from connecting to your computer. Zonealarm also prevents programs on your PC from connecting to the internet without your permission. For example, I once downloaded by accident an email worm virus, I had accidently de-activated my anti virus and the worm tried sending itself secretly to everyone in my address book. Zonealarm popped up a window and told me what was about to happen. I told used zonealarm to block all internet activity, re-activated my anti-virus and within 3 minutes was back on the internet with no further problems. Zonealarm is not as easy to use as the other programs I mentioned earlyer but after a couple of days you will get used to it and can leave it alone to do its job.
Another firewall is Sygate Firewall, I used this briefly for a couple of weeks 3 years ago but I wasn't keen on it, I found it a bit complicated to use but perhaps they have altered it now. I mention it here as it does seem quite popular. It is also worth noting that Windows XP SP2 comes with a built in firewall. Everyone I have spoke to does not think it gives as much protection as it should. The manufacturers of Zonealarm think so much of the windows firewall that zonealarm actually de-activates it automatically !
All the programs above can be found by doing a sarch on Google. They should also only be downloaded from the manufacturers sites or a link from their sites. I have no affiliation with any of the programs mentioned above and offer this guide as my opinion.
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