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How to Stop Spam, Viruses, and Hackers Dead in Their Tracks

By Greg Reynolds

 

Spam Virus Help.com Net Sense.Info

 

Introduction

About The Author : Greg Reynolds is a 23-year veteran of the computer industry and the President of Net Sense, an IT consulting firm. He has worked on systems integration projects with some of the largest companies in the U.S. including IBM, Bank of America, Wachovia, and Bell South.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Greg has been hands on with computers since the days when keypunch cards were used for data entry. When he can get away with it, he likes to work on his notebook computer out on the back deck overlooking the lake.

His consulting practice with Net Sense focuses on network security and project management for corporate clients. The Spam Virus Help web site is geared toward assisting home computer users.

Greg lives outside Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife and six kids. When the five boys aren’t beating him up in various sporting activities, he serves as the First Bank of Dad for all their financial needs. And, of course, his daughter already has the keys to the vault!

About This Book: “Winning the Online Battle: How to stop spam, viruses and hackers dead in their tracks” is work in progress.

 

This ebook version is free for anyone to download. You have full usage and distribution rights.

 

You do not have the right to reprint, alter, or convert the content of this book into any other form.

 

Copyright Notice: This book is copyrighted, March 2004, under the laws of the United States. All rights reserved.

 

Version: This edition is Version 1.3. Check the web site for updates or subscribe to the Net Sense newsletter.

 

Table of Contents

Winning the Online Battle:............................................................ 1
How to Stop Spam, Viruses, and Hackers Dead in Their Tracks ......... 1
By Greg Reynolds Spam Virus Help.com.................................. 1
Net Sense.Info.................................................................... 1
Table of Contents ..................................................................... 3
Introduction............................................................................. 7
Building Your Castle Walls.......................................................... 9
Start with a strong foundation................................................. 9
Use the right building materials ..............................................10
Hardware firewall ............................................................11
Software firewall .............................................................12
Protect your castle from spam and viruses...............................12
How break-ins occur .............................................................13
Let right in .....................................................................13
Hand-delivered ...............................................................14
Piggyback programs ........................................................15
Guessed right .................................................................15
Summary.............................................................................16
Hiring The Right Gatekeeper(s) .................................................17
Trustworthy....................................................................17
Multi-talented .................................................................17
Multi-tasking ..................................................................18
Always on duty ...............................................................18
Updated regularly............................................................18
Gates To Guard ....................................................................18
Internet connection point .................................................19
Email.............................................................................19
Attachments...................................................................19
Backdoors ......................................................................20
Gatekeeping functions...........................................................20
Selection criteria...................................................................21
Cost ..............................................................................21
Ease of setup..................................................................22
Functionality...................................................................22
Automation ....................................................................23
Upgradeability ................................................................23
Compatibility ..................................................................23
Beware the Universal Solution ................................................24
Summary.............................................................................24
Eliminating Spies.....................................................................25
Adware ..........................................................................25

Spyware.........................................................................26
Malware .........................................................................27
Summary.............................................................................28
Acquiring the Cloak of Invisibility...............................................29
Cookies..........................................................................29
IP Tracking.....................................................................30
Email Address Theft.........................................................31
Online Communication Eavesdropping................................32
Summary.............................................................................33
Use A Multi-layered Defense .....................................................34
Best Practices - Computer Security .........................................34
Best Practices – Firewall ........................................................34
Best Practices - Spam Prevention............................................35
Best Practices – Antivirus Protection........................................35
Best Practices – Spyware/Adware Detection.............................35
Best Practices - Malware Defense............................................35
Summary.............................................................................36
Computer security for your Windows PC........................................37
Windows security patches......................................................37
Internet Explorer Security......................................................38
How to secure Internet Explorer .............................................39
Create a multi-layered defense...............................................40
Spam filters block 93.7% of your spam email ................................41
Good spam filter: Spam Agent................................................41
Better spam filter: Spam Inspector 4.0....................................42
Best Spam Filter: Spam Arrest ...............................................43
Free Spam Filters are great anti-spam blockers..............................46
Free Spam Filters For Home Users ..........................................46
Free Spam Filter #1: Spam Pal...............................................46
Free Spam Filter #2: Spam Weasel.........................................47
Free Spam Filter #3: Spam Buster..........................................48
Spam Prevention Tips: Anti-Spam Do's & Don'ts ............................49
Spam Prevention rules to live by:......................................49
Don't post your email address online.......................................49
Don't open spam, ever ..........................................................49
Don't buy anything from spam messages.................................50
Don't use spam "remove me" links..........................................50
Do use an anti-spam filter or spam blocker ..............................50
Antivirus software defeats the virus epidemic.................................52
Antivirus Review Criteria........................................................52
Our Good Antivirus Software Pick: ..........................................53
McAfee VirusScan (#3 overall) ...............................................53
Our Better Antivirus Software Pick:.........................................54
Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004 (#2 overall) .............................54

Our Best Antivirus Software Pick: ...........................................54
Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro (#1 overall).........................54
Norton Antivirus 2004: Free Download Info ...................................57
Norton AntiVirus software ......................................................57
Product Overview..................................................................57
Product Features...................................................................57
Product Problems..................................................................58
Product Pricing .....................................................................58
Free Download .....................................................................59
Norton Antivirus 2004 Update...........................................59
Free Antivirus Software...............................................................60
Free Antivirus Software #1: ...................................................60
AVG Anti-virus......................................................................60
Free Antivirus Software #2: ...................................................61
AntiVir Personal Edition .........................................................61
Free Antivirus Software .........................................................62
Free Anti Virus Downloads .....................................................63
Free Antivirus Download #1:..................................................63
Panda Titanium Anti-virus......................................................63
Free Antivirus Download #2:..................................................64
Kaspersky Anti-virus .............................................................64
Free Antivirus Download #3 ...................................................65
Norton Anti-Virus 2004..........................................................65
Free Virus Scan Websites ............................................................67
Trend Micro HouseCall...........................................................67
Kaspersky Virus Checker .......................................................68
Need a free virus scan?....................................................68
How to do your Free Virus Check.......................................69
BitDefender Free Online Virus Scan.........................................69
Panda ActiveScan - Free Online Scanner..................................70
Spyware removal protects your privacy.........................................71
What is Spyware?............................................................71
How you got infected with Spyware ...................................72
Why you want spyware removal........................................72
Spyware Removal Review Criteria...........................................73
Good Spyware Removal Pick: .................................................73
X-Cleaner from X-Block (#3 Overall).......................................73
Better Spyware Removal Pick:................................................74
Spy-Killer V3.0 (#2 Overall)...................................................74
Best Spyware Removal Pick: ..................................................76
PestPatrol (#1 Overall)..........................................................76
Free Spyware Removal Programs .................................................78
Adware.............................................................................78
Spyware ...........................................................................78

Free Spyware Removal #1.....................................................79
Lavasoft's AdAware...............................................................79
Where to download AdAware ...............................................80
Free Spyware Removal #2.....................................................80
Spybot Search & Destroy.......................................................80
Where to download Spybot Search & Destroy .....................82
Free Spyware Removal #3.....................................................82
PestPatrol (#1 Overall)..........................................................82
Spybot Search & Destroy nails 99% of spy bots .............................84
Spybot Home .......................................................................84
Why Spybot S&D gets rave reviews.........................................84
Where to download Spybot Search & Destroy...........................85
Where to get updates............................................................85
Where to get Spybot SD questions answered ...........................86
A Personal firewall keeps you safe online.......................................87
A personal firewall blocks, on average, three hack scans a day...87
What is a firewall? ................................................................87
How a firewall works .............................................................87
Hardware firewall..................................................................88
Software firewall...................................................................88
Free personal firewall ............................................................89
Where you can get a free firewall............................................89
Free Firewall Software.................................................................90
Personal Firewall Software #1 ................................................90
Zone Alarm (#1 overall) ........................................................90
Personal Firewall Software #2 ................................................91
Tiny Personal Firewall (#2 overall)..........................................91
Personal Firewall Software #3 ................................................92
Norton Personal Firewall 2004 (#3 overall) ..............................92
Firewall Downloads ...............................................................92
BlackICE Firewall ..................................................................93
Outpost Firewall ...................................................................93
Stay Safe in Your Castle ...........................................................95
Resource Links Save You Time & Money .....................................96
Spam Resources...................................................................96
Antivirus Resources...............................................................96
Spyware Resources...............................................................97
Firewall Resources ................................................................97
Ebook Resources ..................................................................98
Computer Resources .............................................................98
Webmaster Resources ...........................................................99
Security Resources ...............................................................99
Additional Resources .............................................................99

Introduction

 

The key to winning the online battle is to think medieval. And no, that’s not really as odd as it sounds.

You need to be a little Machiavellian – building up your castle walls, hiring the right gatekeeper, eliminating spies, and acquiring the cloak of invisibility – to win the online battle.

Then, once you have good defenses in place, you can protect easily protect yourself while you venture online as long as you keep your head about you.

And how do you do that?

 

Simple. You just use common sense:

· You don’t leave the front door open at your castle. · You don’t let anyone in unless they know the password. · You don’t let spies leak valuable information. · You don’t let anyone see where you’re going.

So how does that translate to staying safe online?

You put systematic procedures in place that watch your back. When you are connected to the Internet, no one can possibly keep up with all the communication process going on between your computer and the outside world.

However, by using a combination of specialized programs, you can put a multi-layered defense that monitors all the communications to and from your computer and keeps your castle safe.

Every online computer needs the following:

· Personal firewall
· Spam filtering
· Antivirus protection
· Spyware/malware detection

With these tools you can easily win the online battle and stop spam, viruses, and hackers in their tracks. The next few chapters will walk you through the basic concepts followed by chapters describing how these products work, covering best practices, and providing detailed product information.

Building Your Castle Walls

In medieval times, castle walls provided a good defense against attackers. Sure, there were still some risks such as bad guys scaling the walls, sneaking in the gates, or shooting flaming arrows over the walls. But, all in all, living behind strong walls was a lot safer than being unprotected.

The same holds true today. Your computer is your online home and it needs to be a fortress to protect you from attack.

 

In other words, PC = Home = Castle.

So, how do you go about turning your computer into a fortress? You begin by building your castle walls. We’ll get to guarding the gates, becoming invisible, and knocking off pesky spies in future chapters.

Start with a strong foundation

To build strong castle walls, you first need a good foundation. With your computer, that means having your hardware and software up-todate, all the holes in your computer’s operating system plugged, and any necessary patches applied.

Otherwise, your foundation will be weak because the building blocks weren’t strong enough to handle the load. The unpatched operating system means the mortar was weak, causing holes and weak spots to be left in your castle walls.

Today ’s programs place more demands on your computer than ever before. You need a fast enough processor, sufficient memory, and a large enough disk drive to handle all the work. Otherwise, you won’t have enough men to defend your castle.

Most home computers today come with enough processing power, but are woefully short of memory. Imagine defending your castle with soldiers who couldn’t remember what they were supposed to do and had to stop and think about it before acting.
By then, things may have gotten out of control. Or, worse yet, everything will happen in slow motion as your computer slows to a crawl.

Windows computers need a ton of memory to handle the many processes they are running simultaneously. When you build your castle walls, you’ll be adding even more tasks to their to-do list.

Do your computer a favor and give it sufficient memory to do all the jobs quickly and easily.

At a minimum, Windows XP systems should have 512k of memory. By upgrading your computer’s RAM memory to that level, you’ll ensure that every task is handled swiftly.

Likewise, having enough disk space is critical to your system ’s performance. Today’s software programs are enormous compared to the programs in use a decade ago.

As you add more files to your hard drive, the response time slows as more data is searched to find what is needed. If you find your system slowing down, check and make sure that you have enough space available on your hard drive.

For more information about all the various performance settings to check and adjust on your computer, see the Chapter on “PC Settings Best Practices”.

Use the right building materials

 

Once a good foundation is in place, it’s necessary to use quality materials to build your castle walls. The basic building blocks are:

· Hardware firewall · Software firewall · Antivirus protection · Spam prevention

A computer firewall is simply a hardware device or software program that allows into your computer only the programs and data you decide are acceptable. Firewalls are the best defense a computer can have. Simply put, a firewall detects, rejects, and protects.

Hardware firewall

A hardware firewall is an external device that resides outside your computer. A software firewall is a program that resides inside your computer.

Both types of firewalls analyze all incoming and outgoing traffic according to preset rules. You can also add additional instructions to your firewall that will allow certain types of additional communication.

Using a hardware firewall on a home computer is rare as they are designed to isolate and protect computer networks. Taking our castle walls analogy a little bit further, these are like walls that protect an entire town or city.

In some cases though, you might use a hardware firewall at home. Many people network their home computers together and connect to the Internet through a single, high-speed connection, usually cable or DSL.

Several manufacturers include firewalls within the cable/DSL routers sold in most home electronics stores.

These hardware firewalls disguise everything behind them with their own unique addresses, called subnets. Communication like this uses Network Address Translation (NAT).

NAT essentially hides you from prying eyes outside, just as if you were behind tall castle walls.

A firewall isolates your computer from the Internet by inspecting each piece of data – inbound or outbound – as it reaches the firewall. It uses certain basic rules to decide what goes through and what doesn’t.

Each little package of data must correctly identify itself by specifying a destination address and a port number on that computer.

It must also contain its originating address and the port number from which it was sent. Think of it as the address information on a regular envelope – both return address and recipient.
Since every data package contains this address information, a firewall can selectively accept or reject the various packages of data it receives.

Certain rules specify which ports are valid destinations on your computer. Other rules specify which ports are valid senders from your computer.

Each data packages also contains a little snippet which states whether it is initiating a conversation or acknowledging one that is already taking place. Rules stipulate how data conversations can be initiated and how they must be acknowledged.

Your firewall knows which packages match its rules and are therefore acceptable. All other packages are refused delivery and go no further than the firewall.

Software firewall

A software firewall performs the same functions as a hardware firewall. It places a wall of code in front of all data transmissions instead of a physical device that essentially contains its own wall of code.

Either type of firewall will provide the necessary castle walls you need for your computer. In addition, you’ll need to strengthen your castle walls with antivirus protection and spam prevention.

Protect your castle from spam and viruses

You ’ll want your walls to hold up to all types of bad weather, such as a spam deluge, and any type of attack hurled against it, such as a virus outbreak.

Spam is an astronomical problem these days. Brightmail reports that spam has climbed from 42% of all email in February 2003 to 61% in January 2004.

Considering that overall email usage is growing at a rapid rate, the volume of spam has become a deluge of biblical proportions. To ensure that your castle walls stay strong, it’s very important to block or filter out all incoming spam. You certainly don’t want this stuff coming inside your castle, so it makes sense to divert it away from your computer.

A good spam blocker will keep 90-95% of spam from fouling your mailbox. That goes a long way toward keeping your castle walls strong because a significant percentage of spam messages carry viruses and malware that can harm your computer.

Likewise, a good virus protection program will catch the vast majority of infected messages. Without one, you are asking for trouble by leaving major gaps in your castle walls.

However, virus programs can never be perfect because each new virus has a unique signature that must be added to your virus protection programs scanning database before it can be detected and quarantined.

That ’s why it’s so important to keep your operating system and your applications patched with the latest updates to close the holes these viruses are designed to exploit.

Later on, we ’ll cover spam and antivirus protection in depth and then lay out best practices to follow to keep your castle safe. Right now though, we need to look at the remaining weak points in your castle walls.

How break-ins occur

Your castle walls are vulnerable at certain weak points like the Internet connection point and your communications gateway. Break-ins can occur in the following ways:

· Let right in
· Hand-delivered · Piggy back
· Guessed right

Let right in

One way bad things can get inside your castle is by being let right in. For example, if you had no defenses at all or had only partial defenses in place.

You can easily infect your PC simply by inserting a corrupted floppy disk or other removable media. Your defenses must include protection from trusted sources.

If you don ’t have a good antivirus program in place that scans all your incoming email, you are effectively letting in any virus that shows up at your door. Then it’s only a matter of time before you make a mistake and click on the wrong message, thereby triggering the release of the virus.

Another way that a potential intruder can be let right in besides having little or no defenses in place is via social engineering or “phishing.” For instance, you might get an email from someone purporting to be your ISP or a credit card provider, etc.

You are asked to reveal information about yourself and your account access in order to verify your account. Obviously, never respond to these types of email because these are just nefarious individuals phishing around for information so that they can access your computer and/or your accounts.

Hand-delivered

“ Hand-delivered” messages are another way that your defenses can be breached. By hand-delivered, I mean messages from a trusted source that contain malware, i.e. code that damages your computer or does sneaky things.

Some malicious code can spy out information within your PC and report back to outside computers on what it finds.

Needless to say, this type of code is unethical if not outright illegal. Nevertheless, it exists and you have to protect yourself against it. Many of the better antivirus packages can detect these malicious code packages.

In addition, there are also software programs that can detect and remove these programs from your system. These are covered on Spyware/Adware protection.

Piggyback programs

A third way that break-ins can happen is through piggyback programs. Here, certain less than reputable companies include extra code in their downloads that are nothing more than spyware.

This type of program reports back to another computer on certain aspects of your computer usage.

They are used primarily to trigger annoying popup advertising when you are online, but they also can be used to take control of your browser and take you to sites that you have no intention of visiting.

Again, there are good programs available to detect these little monsters and eliminate them before they can do any more damage.

 

Guessed right

Guessing right is another way that your computer can be breached. It’s somewhat akin to firing an arrow over the castle walls and striking an unseen target.

A potential intruder scans the Internet for likely targets and tries thousands of addresses per hour automatically. By chance, your address is selected and the hacker tries to gain admittance to your system.

They can quickly try dozens of automated probes looking for weak spots in your defenses.

Without the correct implementation of every level of security on your PC, a potential intruder can keep trying to get in until they finally stumble across an opening or guess right on a necessary password.

That ’s why having strong defenses are so important. A good firewall will keep them at bay, and if necessary, disconnect them after repeated intrusion attempts.

Summary

While keeping your computer in good shape – patched and ready to go – is a necessary foundation for your castle, a good firewall provides the essential building blocks of your castle walls.

Without strong castle walls, you will eventually suffer a breach and possibly lose valuable information to a hacker or even lose all your data if/when a virus attacks your PC. Deploying spam blocking and virus protection are a must for keeping your castle walls intact.

However, there ’s one important consideration that’s critical to maintaining a strong defense against intrusion and that’s selecting the right gatekeeper. Let’s move on to the next chapter and see just how to make the right choice.

Hiring The Right Gatekeeper(s)

Having a gatekeeper controlling access to the inside of your castle is very important, but selecting the right one is critical. And, because there are actually several gates in and out of your computer, you’ll need to take care in selecting the best gatekeepers for each one.

First, let’s take a look at the qualities a gatekeeper should possess. Your gatekeeper should be:

· Trustworthy
· Multi-talented · Multi-tasking
· Always on duty · Updated regularly

Trustworthy

By trustworthy, I mean that the program shouldn ’t be a shill for other products from the same vendor. For example, a free version of a program shouldn’t constantly harp about upgrading to the paid version.

A gatekeeping program shouldn ’t be reporting back to the vendor about your activities unless you consciously agree. For example, some antivirus programs report their data back to their company, but never ask you if that’s OK with you.

And, don’t even get me started about burying reporting notifications deep within the legalese.

 

Multi-talented

A multitalented gatekeeper isn ’t one that can perform multiple gatekeeping functions such as spam filtering AND antivirus protection. Rather, it’s an intelligent program that makes decisions (albeit minor ones) independently.

It shouldn ’t need to be told to go get updates. The program should be able to decide that it is better to be safe than sorry when making decisions. And, your gatekeeper should always have your best interests at heart, not those of its creator.

Multi-tasking

Your gatekeeper should be capable of doing many things at the same time. Too many programs have single track tasking, i.e. they stop doing their job while they go off to get an update or they’re disabled while those update files are copied.

Granted, it’s a small thing, but it’s a security exposure nonetheless.

 

Always on duty

Your gatekeeper should always be functioning, even immediately after installation. The program should be designed to default to place itself in your Startup folder so that every time you turn on your computer, your gatekeeper is working.

If you leave your computer on 24x7, then the gatekeeping program should stay active regardless of any hibernate or suspend programs.

 

Updated regularly

 

New versions should come out every year. Interim updates with new features should be available easily and at no extra charge.

Dead end upgrade paths (you must upgrade to the new Super Pro version because the Pro version is discontinued and support is being withdrawn immediately) are verboten.

Gates To Guard

 

Which gateways to and from your castle need a gatekeeper?

· Internet connection point · Email
· Attachments
· Removable media · Backdoors

Internet connection point

 

Your Internet connection, whether it’s dialup or always on like cable or DSL, is your gateway to the world.

 

As we discussed in the previous chapter, your best castle defense is to make your Internet connection point as hard to penetrate as possible.

 

When you surf the Internet, your location (IP address) is part of the communication you exchange with every website.

 

Since you are broadcasting your address, it makes sense to be prepared for visitors.

 

Email

Your email arrives through your Internet connection point, but it contains many items that simply cannot be completely checked as they arrive.

One example is any links within an email message. Your main gatekeeper can’t examine everything and this is one area that needs watching.

A second is HTML code within an email that reports back to its sender whether you have opened the mail, how long you looked at it, and other possibly sensitive information.

Obviously, you want to control this type of gateway communication even though it’s not necessarily harmful.

 

Attachments

Email attachments are a huge area of exposure. Even trusted friends can inadvertently send you a virus-infected attachment. And of course, there seems to be thousands of other folks out there who delight in sending viruses to as many people as possible.

So, it ’s critical that all of your mail be examined by a separate gatekeeper before you open it and, if you want your friends to still like you, before you send something as well.

Backdoors

 

Your computer’s backdoors are the many communication ports that it possesses - all 65,535 of them.

 

Granted, most of these ports aren’t used very often, but that doesn’t mean they should be left open.

Remember in the last chapter where we discussed how your firewall examines communications in part by checking what the destination port of the data packets is and which port on the opposite computer sent it?

Well, there are sophisticated automated tools which can probe all of your computer ports in less than four minutes.

 

So, anyone can simply and quickly determine which backdoor to your castle might be left open and unwatched by any gatekeeper.

 

And of course, once they gain access, you’ll have a dickens of a time getting rid of them!

 

Gatekeeping functions

 

And what are the gatekeeper’s jobs?

· Controlling who and what comes and goes (firewall) · Approving any new requests to go outside (firewall) · Identifying and locking up troublemakers (virus protection) · Keeping out the riffraff (spam blocker)

As we ’ve discussed, different needs means multiple gate keepers. Firewall hardware and firewall software do a great job of providing strong castle walls and tightly monitoring traffic through the main gateways.

A software firewall will also routinely request your approval for any new application before it grants Internet access. This prevents any type of spy code or malicious program from being able to sneak away with your personal information.

It also blocks executable code from launching your mail program and unleashing a barrage of virus-laden emails to your entire email address book.

Your virus protection gatekeeper will impound any known troublemakers and prevent them from spreading their payload within your castle.

A spam gatekeeper will block annoying or offensive messages and either keep them from entering your castle at all or relegating them to the junk bin within your email program.

Together, these four gatekeepers will do a fabulous job of keeping you safe within your castle walls.

 

Selection criteria

 

And what are the main selection criteria for a good gatekeeper?

· Cost
· Ease of setup · Functionality · Automation · Upgradeability · Compatibility

Cost

There are free and inexpensive gatekeepers that do a great job. However, the old saying that “you get what you pay for” holds true in the computer world as well.
Most free programs that provide the gatekeepers have fewer features than their commercial brethren.

Oftentimes, the free program is offered by the same vendor and is intended as a stepping stone to entice you to use their paid product.

Sometimes, these programs come with annoying advertising blurbs or expire after a free trial period. Nevertheless, using a free gatekeeper program is way better than not using one at all.

Also, the highest priced offering is not necessarily the best. Check our chapters on recommended products for insight as to the most costappropriate firewall, antivirus, or spam solution for you.

Ease of setup

Ease of setup is another important criterion. I sometimes think that there is an evil interface demon that exists solely to kludge up programs by making them non-user friendly.

A good setup program is intuitive, i.e. it has a good understanding of what you want to achieve and the default settings are therefore appropriate for most users. Bad setup programs require you to answer a seemingly endless list of questions before settings are determined.

Functionality

Functionality is critical in any application controlling a gateway. Feature set choices should be robust and at the same time, enough information should be provided to make understanding and enabling the extra functions a breeze.

If a gatekeeping program lacks certain functions, it won’t be able to perform all the expected tasks.

Prime examples of this are most antivirus programs. They fail to provide more than limited functionality in their ability to clean infected files.

It ’s not that doing so is impossible; it’s just that for many of these vendors, cleaning infected files is not a priority.
One program, Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro, has the ability to clean almost any infected file. The real question is - why don’t the other antivirus programs?

Automation

 

Another key factor is automation. A program should function independently and interrupt/alert you only when absolutely necessary.

A useful feature is one where you can set the alert threshold level to the settings you prefer instead of being stuck with what someone else assumed you would like.

Automation also means that a gatekeeper program like spam or antivirus protection that needs update signature files will get the required updates either on a regular schedule or as alerted by its source.

Upgradeability

A gatekeeper program should offer a smooth upgrade path. Examples include an upgrade from a free version to a paid version that doesn’t require removing the first one, and also a simple way to upgrade to the latest version of a program.

It goes without saying that the upgrade path should be only a fraction of the cost of buying the new version outright.

 

Compatibility

Your gatekeepers should coexist nicely. You wouldn ’t want a program that repeatedly crashed other programs that you were using nor one that hogged so many system resources that other programs slowed to a crawl.

Beware the Universal Solution

A universal gatekeeping solution is not the best approach. Many companies offer combination programs that provide antivirus protection and spam filtering at the same time.

Unfortunately, they usually don’t do a great job at either one.

You want best-of-breed solutions in each of these critical gatekeeping roles, not a compromise solution that the marketing department dreamed up. See the various product reviews for additional information.

Summary

Selecting the right gatekeeper is critical to properly defending your castle against sneak attacks (hackers), invasions (spam), diseases (viruses), and spies (adware).

As we review the various product offerings that fulfill these vital gatekeeping functions, remember just how important the gatekeeper job is.

Be sure to select yours carefully and prudently.

 

Eliminating Spies

In medieval times, every castle had to beware of spies who might betray their secrets to the outside world. Today is no different. There are active spies inside your computer castle right now.

It’s time to be a little bit Machiavellian and start eliminating spies from your computer.

 

These spy programs fall into three broad categories:

· Adware · Spyware · Malware

Adware

The most common type of spy you ’ll encounter is what’s known as adware. Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running.

These applications include additional code that delivers the ads, which appear as pop-up windows or through a bar or panel that appears on a computer screen.

The justification for adware is that it helps recover programming development cost for some freeware or shareware application that has been downloaded to your computer, i.e., it helps to hold down the cost for the user.

Adware has been criticized for occasionally including code that tracks a user's personal information and passes it on to third parties, without your authorization or knowledge.

Ads are often tailored based on your surfing habits or closely matched to the website you are visiting at the time.

If you think about adware in the context of TV viewing, it ’s as if the TV was observing your lifestyle and displaying ads based on what it observed about you as you watched TV.
For example, your TV ad might be for a competing beverage or snack aimed at convincing you to switch brands.

Adware smacks of invasion of personal privacy and sometimes borders on theft of personal information.

You are much better off without all of your online activities being reported back to various companies, most of whom you’ve never done business with in the first place.

Spyware

 

Another common spy that may be lurking on your computer is the appropriately named spyware.

Spyware is potentially far more dangerous threat than Adware because it can be used to record your keystrokes, history, passwords, and other confidential and private information.

It is often sold or freely distributed as a spouse monitor, child monitor, a surveillance tool or simply used as a tool to spy on users to gain unauthorized access.

Spyware is also known as: snoopware, PC surveillance, key logger, system recorders, Parental control software, PC recorder, Detective software and Internet monitoring software.

Spyware covertly gathers user information and activity without the user’s knowledge. Spy software can record things like your keystrokes as you type them, passwords, credit card numbers or other sensitive information, where you surf, your online chat logs, and can even take random screenshots of your activity.

Basically, whatever you do on the computer is completely viewable by the spy. You do not have to be connected to the Internet to be spied upon.

The information captured by the spyware can be retrieved directly from your computer or transmitted to another computer.

The latest permutations of spyware include the use of routines to mail out user activity via e-mail or posting information to the web where the spy can view it at their leisure.
Also many spyware vendors use “stealth routines” and “polymorphic” (meaning to change) techniques to avoid detection and removal by popular anti-spy software.

In some cases spyware, known as a “retrospy”, will counter-attack anti-spy packages by attempting to disable the program. In addition they may use routines to re-install the spyware application after it has been detected.

Malware

The worst type of spy is malware. Malware is computer slang for malicious software. In that sense, malware is software that is designed specifically to disrupt a computer system.

A trojan horse or a virus could be classified as malware. Some advertising software can be malicious in that it can try to re-install itself after you remove it, so in some ways that could be categorized as malware as well.

Simply put, malware is software specifically engineered to damage your machine or interrupt your normal computing environment. You most definitely never want to allow malware to gain even the tiniest foothold on your computer.

What are some examples of malware that you might encounter?

Home Page Hijack:
Your browser home page can be hijacked by a malicious website. The home page would then only open to a porn page or to a page of ads.

Dialer Hijack:
Another type of hijacking concerns your modem. A porn dialer can be installed on your computer without your knowledge. It may come bundled in some kind of fun software, theme or screen saver.

If you are online when the dialer actually installs, it will cut your current modem connection and dial into a porn site in another country. The billing will appear on your next phone bill and could be substantial.

Search Page Hijack:
Definitely one of the worst hijacks, and one of the hardest to remove, is one where your browser is permanently rerouted to a paid search engine.

The most egregious offender here is a company called Cool Web Search, which not only hijacks your browser; it also actively fights attempts to remove it.

Malware poses significant risks to your computer and to your pocketbook because it can damage your PC, destroy critical data files, require an expert to remove and restore everything, or, as in cases involving hidden installations of auto-dialers, run up a huge phone bill for a dial-up user.

Summary

 

Now that you know what kind of trouble spyware, adware, and malware can cause you, you’ll need to learn how to stay safe.

 

In a subsequent chapter, we’ll examine the various prevention and removal tools available to combat spyware, adware, and malware.

 

But right now, we’re going to complete our introduction by finding out how to be invisible online.

 

Acquiring the Cloak of Invisibility

Becoming invisible online is a worthy goal. It will help you greatly in your efforts to protect your privacy as well as your castle, not to mention greatly reducing the amount of spam headed your way.

The cloak of invisibility means your web surfing habits aren ’t constantly being recorded and passed on to strangers, your Internet IP address is shielded from prying eyes, your email address is protected, and your online communications are shielded

When you venture online, your browser exchanges a significant amount of information with each website that you visit. There are a number of ways that your privacy is invaded:

· Cookies
· IP Tracking
· Email Address Theft
· Online Communication Eavesdropping

Cookies

Whenever you browse the Web, it's likely that hundreds of marketers are tracking your every move using cookies -- tiny programs that hook onto your browser and track your surfing habits, reporting them back to the originating site.

Web site owners can see what kind of operating system and monitor you're using, what part of the country or world you're in, and when you last visited their site. They can tell which Web site you visited before theirs, and which one you went to next.

Many websites use cookies to track user visits and preferences. There is nothing wrong with that, but most sites do not ask your permission nor do they set their cookie to self-destruct after leaving their site.

Cookies, those little text files silently placed on your computer by the web sites you visit, continue to be a privacy issue. Many cookies serve a useful purpose, such as remembering log-in information or helping e-commerce Web sites keep track of what's in your shopping cart. But cookies are also used by advertisers to track your surfing and shopping habits. Instead, websites use their cookie to track what other websites you visit, how often you visit those sites, and other significant details of your online behavior.

It’s like they’ve planted a little spy on your shoulder that reports back to them as soon as you return to their website.

Most users just ignore the cookies that are planted on their computers. It isn’t unusual for an active user to accumulate several thousand of the little boogers in a year, all reporting back to various sources just what you’ve been doing.

Certainly you wouldn ’t stand for that happening when you were at a shopping mall. Imagine having a horde of chattering mavens harping about your every shopping move on their cell phones to their employers.

You’d die from embarrassment due to the complete invasion of your personal privacy.

 

Well, there’s no reason why you should put up with that behavior online either!

 

IP Tracking

The less that others know about you, the better. Your IP address is the equivalent of your home address, and its right out there for everyone to see when you’re online.

To shield your moves online from the prying eyes of marketers and hackers, you also can disguise your Internet protocol (IP) address -- a unique number that identifies your computer in somewhat the same way that your Social Security number pinpoints you.

How do you do that? By using a service that encrypts and reroutes connection requests as you click from one Web site to another, essentially hiding your IP address.

Alternatively, you could disguise your IP address using special software or online services such as "The Cloak", found at TheCloak.com, or the "Anonymizer", at Anonymizer.com. The latter, which works on most versions of Windows, automatically strips your IP address from all outgoing data as it flows through Anonymizer servers.

The service can also encrypt all web page requests that your browser makes, so that only you know which sites you visit.

 

Email Address Theft

Your name and e-mail address may be embedded in your browser. Websites can then take them from your browser and make a permanent record of your visit.

Hidden scripts on a Web page can bore into your hard drive and retrieve private information, often without your knowledge. With only one extra line of computer code, a website can capture your email address from information stored within your browser.

To prevent this, you can go into your browser's preferences menu and delete this information or replace it with a false name and a dummy email account.

The sharing of your email address might not seem like a big risk, but having it grabbed from your computer without your permission is never a good thing. It’s far better to keep your real identity a secret unless you choose to reveal it.

Sites that swipe email addresses without permission usually have a reason for doing so and those don’t include doing you any favors. Your email address can end up being bundled and resold to literally hundreds of spammers as part of huge mass mailing lists.

Other personal information at risk also includes your name since it is stored by your email program right next to your email address.

From there, it ’s easy for a company to match up your name (and all the details from your cookies) with information stored in huge databases which are readily accessible to almost any business.

Your credit history and payment records can be accessed by a business. For a small fee, your personal financial history is laid bare for anyone to see.
Best to take precautions and be invisible to prying eyes.

Online Communication Eavesdropping

There are several million people in the world with sufficient technical knowledge to eavesdrop on network communications. It simply requires a “packet sniffer” tool and a moderate understanding of what to look for and how to reassemble the packets.

Given that there are free versions of packet sniffers available online, one could safely surmise that almost any Internet communication was subject to eavesdropping.

In practice, it is somewhat difficult to target a specific communication, but much less difficult to tap into a random one.

Without going into a lot of technical detail, any email that you send, any online chat session, or instant messaging for that matter, can be accessed as it traverses the Internet.

However, given the dynamic nature of the Internet, it is impossible to absolutely predict exactly what path network traffic will follow. One email message that you send could take an entirely different path to reach the recipient than another that you send to the same person.

In fact, it is even worse than that: for the sake of efficiency, email messages and other network traffic are typically broken down into smaller little chunks, or packets, before they are sent across the network, and automatically re-assembled on the other side.

Each of these individual packets may in fact follow a different path to get to the recipient! (In actual practice, a given path tends to get reused until the operational parameters of that or other related paths have significantly changed.)

The net result of all this is that your message, or at least little chunks of your message, travels through an indeterminate set of systems and network devices, each of which offers a point of interception.

These systems may be owned or operated by corporations and nonprofit organizations, by colleges, by governments and government agencies, or by telecom and other connectivity providers. Given such a widely divergent group, it is easy to see how either an unethical organization or a renegade employee may easily gain access to the messages and traffic crossing their systems.

All of these factors combine to make the Internet itself the primary source of message interception points:

· Internet Service Provider (ISP) · Email Provider
· Office
· Hotel/Conference Center/Internet Café · Housing Provided Connectivity
· College/Trade School
· Local Loop (cable or broadband access) · Metropolitan Area Network
· Wireless Network

There is no way to stop people from intercepting your email messages. The only thing you can do to protect the privacy of your messages is to encrypt those messages so that, if intercepted, they cannot be read and will be of no use.

Summary

As we ’ve seen, there is not a lot of privacy in the regular way that people use the Internet. To stay safe, acquiring the cloak of invisibility is a good idea.

In future chapters, we ’ll discuss which tools will best suit your specific needs. As you seek to protect your privacy, there will be certain tradeoffs that you will have to weigh and then decide which one is the best approach for you.

At a minimum, you will want to limit cookies, tighten your browser security, avoid releasing any information inadvertently, and use common sense when going online outside your castle.

Use A Multi-layered Defense

As we ’ve seen in the previous chapters, there are many types of exposure when your computer is connected to the Internet. You have spam, viruses, and hackers trying to invade your castle almost nonstop.

To be safe, you have to construct a multi-layered defense against intrusion, information leaks, identity theft, and malicious code. Your castle walls need to be strong, high, and airtight.

The best way to protect yourself is to combine best practices with common sense. We all know what common sense is – it’s what we forgot while we did the wrong thing.

Seriously though, common sense is sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge. We all have it, but don’t always use it.

Hindsight is always 20-20, so you need to know what “best practices” are for computer security and use them to protect yourself even when common sense flies out the window.

Set up your multi-layered defense by following these best practices.

 

Best Practices - Computer Security

1. Apply operating system security patches as soon as possible.
2. Apply all application security patches.
3. Automate the process of checking for Microsoft patches.
4. Secure your browser against intrusions.
5. Secure Outlook/Outlook Express settings.
6. Turn off RPC and DCOM on your PC.
7. Disable unnecessary file shares and printer shares.
8. Turn off any unnecessary networking services.
9. Turn off Windows Messaging Services (not instant messenger).

Best Practices– Firewall

1. Always use a software firewall on your computer.
2. Don’t leave the default username and password settings.
3. For DSL or cable connections, add a hardware firewall – a home network router does the trick nicely.
4. Pay attention to the settings on your firewall.
5. Read the manual! Follow the instructions.

Best Practices - Spam Prevention

1. Always use a spam filter
2. Never open spam, ever.
3. Don’t buy anything from spammers.
4. Don’t post your email address online.
5. Don’t use a “remove me” link in a spam email.

Best Practices– Antivirus Protection

1. Always use antivirus software.
2. Never open email attachments from unknown senders.
3. Be wary opening any attachments from friends.
4. Keep your software’s virus definitions updated automatically.
5. Set your antivirus software for real-time protection.
6. Use the best antivirus software you can afford.

Best Practices– Spyware/Adware Detection

1. Always use a spyware removal program.
2. Use one that also blocks spyware and adware from your PC.
3. Scan your system at least weekly.
4. Don’t download P2P file sharing programs.
5. If you do, immediately run your spyware remover.

Best Practices - Malware Defense

1. Lock down your PC’s system settings.
2. Secure your browser settings. See computer security section.
3. Tighten security for ActiveX and Java settings.
4. Don’t download files from unknown sights.
5. Make sure all OS and application files are patched.

Summary

 

The online world is 99% safe, but the other 1% can make your life pure hell if you’re not careful.

 

You want strong castle walls that protect you, good gatekeepers controlling access, and spies eliminated with the utmost dispatch.

 

Most importantly, to win the online battle, you want to acquire and wear the Cloak of Invisibility.

 

With the right security settings, using a good firewall, and following best practices will keep you invisible and safe within your castle walls.

 

The next chapters will tell you all about the necessary tools for:

· Computer security · Spam filters
· Antivirus software · Spyware removal · Personal firewalls · Additional resources

We’ll take a look at several free versions of each type as well as the best commercial programs.

There are always things that the commercial versions can do that aren’t included in the free versions. We’ll tell you what to look for and you can decide how important those features are to you.

We give you the links to the best free versions and to free trials of their commercial brethren.

 

The important thing is to be safe, so definitely put your protection plan into motion ASAP.

 

Let’s be safe out there…

Computer security for your Windows PC

Computer security is a goal to which we all aspire. Windows security is an oxymoron - a contradiction in terms.

If you want computer security on a Windows platform, you have your work cut out for you. This article discusses three things you must do to build a strong security foundation.

· Apply all Windows security patches · Tighten Internet Explorer security · Create a multi-layered defense

Windows security patches

Viruses, trojans, and hackers all exploit known flaws in Microsoft Windows. To protect yourself, you need to close the holes and prevent those exploits.

Obviously, the source for all the security patches for Windows and related applications such as Microsoft Internet Explorer is the Microsoft web site. The Microsoft Windows Update site provides critical updates, security fixes, software downloads, and other relevant security info.

Simply click the Scan for Updates button and Microsoft will tell you what updates are available for your system. Then browse the list and check off the ones you want to install.

Critical updates will always be in a small group at the top of the results page. Always install those first.

Upon completion of your download, each update will automatically install itself. You may need to reboot your system for some security updates to become active.

To maintain your system's protection, you can keep abreast of any new security updates automatically with Windows Update.

Periodically, when you launch Internet Explorer you will be directed to the Windows Update page for a new scan.
Note: If you use Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel, you can get the security updates for them through Windows Update as well. Simply click the top button labeled "Office Update".

Internet Explorer Security

Microsoft Internet Explorer needs to be updated regularly to maintain computer security. Microsoft Internet Explorer is the default web browser installed on Microsoft Windows platforms.

All existing versions of Internet Explorer have critical vulnerabilities if they are not kept up-to-date with current patches.

 

The vulnerabilities can be categorized into multiple classes:

· Web page or Windows interface spoofing · ActiveX control vulnerabilities
· Active scripting vulnerabilities
· MIME-type and Content-type misinterpretation · Buffer overflows

These vulnerabilities could lead to disclosure of cookies, local files or data, execution of local programs, download and execution of arbitrary code, or complete takeover of the vulnerable system.

Patches for these vulnerabilities are available for Internet Explorer version 6.0. Earlier versions of Internet Explorer are also vulnerable. However, patches may not be available for earlier versions.

If you are using IE 5.5 or earlier, upgrading to IE 6.0 is strongly recommended as service packs for earlier versions of Internet Explorer are no longer available.

If you are using IE 6.0, start by upgrading to the most recent service pack for Internet Explorer.

 

To maintain your system's protection, keep abreast of any new IE updates with Windows Update as previously discussed.

 

How to secure Internet Explorer

 

To configure the Security settings for Internet Explorer:

· Select Internet Options under the Tools menu. · Select the Security tab
· Click Custom Level for the Internet zone.

Most of the flaws in IE are exploited through Active Scripting or ActiveX Controls.

 

· Under Scripting, select Prompt for Allow paste operations via script

 

This increases computer security by preventing content from being exposed from your clipboard.

 

Note: Active Scripting should not be disabled since it is used by many websites.

 

ActiveX Controls are not as popular but are potentially more dangerous as they allow greater access to the system.

· Select Prompt for Download signed ActiveX Controls. · Select Disable for Download unsigned ActiveX Controls. · Select Disable for Initialize and script ActiveX Controls not

marked as safe.

 

Java applets typically have more capabilities than scripts.

 

· Under Microsoft VM, select High safety for Java permissions

 

This puts access barriers around the Java applet and prevents privileged access to your system.

 

· Under Miscellaneous select Disable for Access to data sources across domains

 

This protects you from cross-site scripting attacks.

Also, make sure that no un-trusted sites are in the Trusted sites or Local Intranet zones as these zones have weaker security settings than the other zones.
These security settings for Internet Explorer will also be automatically applied to your other Microsoft applications such as Outlook and Outlook Express.

Create a multi-layered defense

Computer security is all about having multiple lines of defense. After applying the security patches to Windows and fortifying Internet Explorer, you have a good foundation in place.

You are now ready to further increase your computer security by building upon that foundation and creating some strong castle walls for additional protection.

Here's what you need:

· Spam Filters
· Antivirus Software
· Spyware Removal Software · Personal Firewall

Each of those is a necessity to close a defensive gap. Together they create an interwoven shield of computer security that will keep you safe from harm.

If you can't afford to purchase any or all of these, then use the free versions we recommend. While not as effective as the commercial versions, they nevertheless provide a strong extra layer of muchneeded defense.

Information, free versions, and product recommendations for these computer security products are here:

· Spam Filters
· Antivirus Software · Spyware Removal · Personal Firewall

Spam filters block 93.7% of your spam email

Spam filters are an absolute necessity to combat the spam deluge. Personally, I never want to see another annoying come-on or embarrassing porn offer in my inbox again. Even worse, a lot of spam now contains dangerous virus attachments.

In this article, we're covering the top three commercial spam filters on the market and ranking them as good, better, and best. For information on free spam filters, jump over to our Free Spam Filters page.

A Good spam filter is one that does a high-quality job of filtering out junk email from your inbox.

 

A Better spam filter is one that's slightly easier to use and picks off a higher percentage of incoming spam.

 

The Best spam filter is simply the one that does the best job of killing spam with no exposure to infected attachments.

That doesn't mean that the Good and Better spam filters aren't worth your time and money. On the contrary, they are very worthwhile programs.

They simply came out #2 and #3 in our overall rankings. Considering that there are more than 55 anti-spam programs to choose from, that's not too shabby at all.

Any of these spam filter programs is an excellent weapon to combat spam. Take advantage of the free trial offers and check them out for yourself. Then choose the one that you like best.

Let's take a closer look at the top three:

 

Good spam filter: Spam Agent

Spam Agent does a great job at blocking spam email. It's very easy to install and deploy. The instructions are clear and the interfaces intuitive.
Spam Agent has a comprehensive set of filters (over 1500!) that block spam and unwanted emails - before they reach your inbox.

The software allows you to block all incoming attachments, or just executable/program attachments that may potentially damage your PC!

Spam Agent does everything that a spam filter is supposed to do and it does it well. To make our top three though, it has to really stand out from the pack, and it does.

The key extra value features are:

· Create custom spam filters - easily build extra protection · Create a friends list - just add them to a whitelist · Monitor multiple email accounts - a big plus!
· Send abuse notices to ISPs to report spammers - it feels good · Stop attachments - keep viruses & trojans off limits

Only drawback: POP 3 Email Accounts Only (MSN/AOL/Hotmail/Web mail are NOT SUPPORTED)

Spam Agent is from Spytech Software. They offer over a dozen products, all of which provide increased security or monitoring for your PC. Best of all, they offer a free trial period on all their programs.

Click here for your free trial of Spam Agent

 

Better spam filter: Spam Inspector 4.0

Spam Inspector is our #2 choice overall. Like Spam Agent, Spam Inspector does an excellent job with every one of the basic tasks. That's probably why Spam Inspector is so popular in the corporate and educational world.

It goes without saying that this spam filter does a tremendous job as a spam blocker. But in a tight comparison like ours, it's the built-in extras that make Spam Inspector our number two pick.

For instance, it automatically approves senders from all Local Address Books, Contacts folders, and Sent Items folders. What a timesaver! Plus, Spam Inspector integrates directly with Outlook, Outlook Express, IncrediMail, Eudora, and Hotmail in Internet Explorer.

The key extra value features are:

· Protects your privacy by removing tracking bugs from email · Hides and deletes offensive images from pornographic spam · Alerts you to hazardous virus containing emails
· Protects you from illegal email scams and threats
· Self learns based on your incoming email
· Updates filters based on global reports automatically · Blocks foreign language spam - Yeah baby!!
· Filters email from multiple email programs, and email accounts · Unique filtering profiles per user or family member · Powerful spam reporting to government agencies and ISPs · Alerts you when it is safe to unsubscribe from junk email lists · Bounces spam back to the sender!!! (gets you off their lists)

The self-learning feature is pretty cool. You can teach it what is spam and what isn't at the click of a button. The more you use Spam Inspector, the smarter it gets!

Basically, Spam Inspector 4.0 would have been our #1 pick except for the lack of attachment filtering options.

However, because it does an excellent job at blocking almost all spam, you can rely on your anti-virus program to catch the infected emails from your whitelisted friends.

Click here for your free trial of Spam Inspector

 

Best Spam Filter: Spam Arrest

This one works a little differently than the others. If you don't ever want any spam coming into contact with your PC, and you don't mind an extra step in retrieving your email, then you need to check out Spam Arrest.

Spam Arrest is a 100-percent effective solution for blocking automated junk emails. It works through the "CHALLENGE-RESPONSE" system. When email arrives from unknown senders, a reply "CHALLENGE" email is sent back asking senders to verify themselves by clicking on a link to the Spam Arrest website.

It's easy for a human to answer the "CHALLENGE", but automated systems, such as those used to send spam, are stymied and cannot authorize themselves.

Unverified emails are stored on the Spam Arrest website for 7 days, and you may review them at any time. You may pre-authorize senders and entire mailing lists at any time, either by entering them individually, or by uploading your own address book.

You may also pre-authorize email from automated services to which you subscribe, such as news services, organizations or even selected retailers and merchants.

It ’s easy to get started with Spam Arrest. There's no software to install, and the service begins working for you immediately. Spam Arrest works with any POP3 mail server (almost every ISP supports this). Support for MSN, Hotmail, and AOL is coming soon.

How it works:

· Spam Arrest connects to your mail server every two minutes · Your new email is moved onto the Spam Arrest server. · New emails are processed by the Spam Arrest system. · Messages from verified senders and mailing lists are forwarded

to your Spam Arrest inbox.
· Messages from unverified senders are held, pending verification. · Upon verification, the message is delivered to your Spam Arrest

inbox.
· You may review your unverified email on the website at any
time.

They've even automated the conversion process. All you have to do to begin your 30-day free trial is download a small batch file. It will analyze and update the email settings on your PC automatically, thereby ensuring a smooth transition.

However, even though it's WAY SAFER to deal with spam before it reaches your PC, there are two drawbacks to this approach. The first one is that all your friends and acquaintances will have to respond to your initial challenge email. The second one is that you need to check your Pending file fairly often to make sure nothing you want gets deleted after seven days.

The bottom line is that Spam Arrest does the best job of protecting you, but annoys your friends and keeps you somewhat actively involved in the whole process.

Click here for your free trial of Spam Arrest

 

So there you have it. Once again, our top three spam filters are:

· Spam Agent · Spam Inspector · Spam Arrest

Each of these spam blockers will do a great job for you. Try out one (or more) today!

Free Spam Filters are great anti-spam blockers

Discover how free spam filters and free spam blockers can help you quickly and easily. We've done the research, so you can:

· Learn how to get a free spam filter. · Compare features.
· Discover the best sources.

One easy way for home users to block spam is to use freeware or shareware solutions. While not as advanced as the commercial antispam solutions, these downloads still provide a significant amount of spam relief.

Free Spam Filters For Home Users

 

There are several freeware anti-spam packages available for home users:

· Spam Pal
· Spam Weasel · Spam Buster

Free Spam Filter #1: Spam Pal

Spam Pal works with any Windows-based PC running Windows 95 or higher. It only works with POP3 or IMAP4 mailboxes and standard email program such as Outlook, Outlook Express or Eudora.

SpamPal does not work with proprietary mail systems such as AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, Juno, MSN, etc.

SpamPal sits between your email program and your mailbox, checking your email as you retrieve it. Any email messages that SpamPal considers to be spam will be "tagged" with a special header.

You simply configure your email client to filter anything with this header into a separate folder and your spam won't be mixed up with the rest of your email anymore.
It uses what are called DNSBL lists. Patterned after the famous MAPS RBL, these are lists of parts of the Internet that in one way or another facilitate spam.

Any email you get from a machine on one of these lists has an increased probability of being spam. Some ISPs already block all email from machines on some of these DNSBL lists, but many do not. This is where SpamPal comes in.

You can choose to use any or all of the freely-usable DNSBL lists; SpamPal will look at the machines each email message passed through on its way to your mailbox, and if any of those machines is on one of the DNSBL lists you have chosen then that message will be tagged as spam.

Because not everyone who uses a machine on a DNSBL list will be a spammer, SpamPal has a powerful whitelisting feature that allows you to ignore DNSBL listings for certain senders or for parts of the Internet.

SpamPal is free software; you can download and install it entirely freeof-charge. This isn't a trial, or a crippled cut-down version to tempt you towards an expensive "full" version, or a package loaded with spyware to steal your personal details. The fully-featured version of SpamPal can be downloaded and used without imposition or restriction.

Spam Pal is available here: Spam Pal

 

Free Spam Filter #2: Spam Weasel

 

SpamWeasel will delete or archive spam and place an optional warning notice on any suspect spam mail it allows through to your inbox.

The program needs to be manually installed and is pre-configured to collect mail from multiple POP accounts using rules that permit passing, blocking, labeling, deleting, archiving, viewing, sorting and forwarding suspect spam. It works with any standard POP3 client.

Mailgate will not answer support questions on the free product, but there are downloadable manuals including SpamWeasel: The Crash Dummy’s Guide and a FAQ area for SpamWeasel products, as well as a User Forum.

Spam Weasel is available here: Spam Weasel

 

Free Spam Filter #3: Spam Buster

Spam Buster requires a POP3 email account such as provided from a local internet service provider and does not support proprietary email such as AOL , Compuserve, MSN, Juno, or web-based mail accounts such as Yahoo, or Hotmail.

To use Spam Buster you customize the filters for selecting exactly which emails you want deleted. Based upon your filters you can keep get rich quick schemes and pornographic email out of your email box. It's easy to add new filters to the list to keep out the ever growing realm of junk email.

The free version of Spam Buster is not time limited and does not expire after a certain number of days. Spam Buster is ad-supported with banner advertisements appearing on the main screen.

The banner advertisements are included in the software and do not communicate with any outside agency or third party ad server.

 

Spam Buster is available here: Spam Buster

 

One caveat: Free spam filters are not as good as the commercial ones. I recommend these only if you can't afford the better protection.

 

So, there you have it. Three excellent free spam filters. Get one today and take back control of your inbox!

 

Spam Prevention Tips: Anti-Spam Do's & Don'ts Spam Prevention rules to live by:

· Don't post your email address online · Don't open spam, ever
· Don't buy anything from spam messages · Don't use spam "remove me" links · Do use an anti-spam filter or spam blocker

Don't post your email address online

Spam Prevention Rule #1:
Posting your address online starts a quick journey to spam hell. And I know you don't want to go there!

Spammers rely on programs that scour the web for usable email addresses. Those harvested addresses are resold to other spammers who in turn bombard you with their own unsolicited messages.

Advice: Don't post your primary email address online. Use a free email account for any online postings, contest entries, etc.

 

If you absolutely must use your email address, disguise it. One simple way is to add the phrase "No Spam" to it.

 

Example: johndoeNoSpam@xyzisp.com

 

Don't open spam, ever
Spam Prevention Rule #2:

 

Never open spam. I repeat, NEVER open spam.

Many HTML email messages return a "valid email address" signal to the spam senders. They know you've opened their message and now you're fair game for more spam.

Advice: Set your email client to display only unread messages. Make sure that the message view or preview is not enabled. Simply drag the unopened spam to the trash. Don't buy anything from spam messages

Spam Prevention Rule #3:
Don't ever buy anything promoted by spam. Doing so just creates more spam.

Spammers are only in it for the money. If the money dries up due to zero sales, they'll be out of business.

Advice: Before you succumb to a spammer's marketing pitch, ask yourself if you truly need another penis enlargement patch or whatever. Remember: No sale means no spam!

Don't use spam "remove me" links

Spam Prevention Rule #4:
Clicking the "remove me" link in a spam message only confirms that your address is a live one. Your email address is now upgraded to the spammer's valid delivery list.

Advice: Just like not opening spam and not buying a spammers product, not using the remove link is a smart move. No reply in response to spam is always your best bet.

Note: Always use the unsubscribe link to remove your address from any legitimate opt-in mailing list to which you have previously subscribed and no longer wish to receive.

Do use an anti-spam filter or spam blocker

Spam Prevention Rule #5:
Using a spam filter is one of the best anti-spam solutions. While no Using a spam filter is one of the best anti-spam solutions. While no 95% of all incoming spam.

Instead of dealing with ten or twenty spam messages in your inbox, now you are annoyed by only one or two. And, with time and a little training, your spam filter will get even better at blocking out spam. Advice: Anti-spam filters are a no-brainer. Many solutions have a free trial period that allows you to try it before you buy it.

Solution: One of the simplest spam blockers to use is Spam Bully.

 

It comes with a 14-day free trial. Simply download the file, click once to install, and you will instantly block 94% of all incoming spam.

 

Spam is a time-wasting nuisance. Take action today by adding a spam blocker to your email client. You won't regret it.

 

Click Here for Your Spam Bully Free Trial!

 

This one is a simple "one click and you're on your way."

 

The download is quickly in motion and the install is simple and straightforward. Plus, you don't have to provide any information at all.

 

Take advantage of the offer and put some spam prevention (and protection) in place today.

Antivirus software defeats the virus epidemic

Antivirus software provides the now mandatory anti-virus protection against the Internet virus threats being created by sick minds.

 

These products are so necessary now that every PC should come with a "Don't Go Online Without It" sticker.

Everyone who doesn't live in a cave is aware of the virus epidemic, but too many folks are still using the "ostrich" defense. They hide their heads in the sand and hope that a virus never strikes them.

Anyone who has ever restored a PC after a virus attack knows just how much trouble one little virus can cause. If you value your data, your email contacts, and your sanity, then make sure you've got antivirus software in place.

Not only that, you've got to also make sure your virus signature file is as up to date as possible. Too many viruses sneak in under the radar because definitions are out of date or the anti-virus software isn't capable of recognizing new threats.

Antivirus Review Criteria

 

We compared anti-virus software programs from Norton, McAfee, AVG, Panda, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, and all the other leading vendors.

There were a total of 46 different packages in all. Before picking our top three favorite programs, we had to decide which features were the most important.

Here are our most important factors:

· Offers free trial period
· Easy anti-virus download and install · Strong anti-virus protection
· Anti-virus updates are automatic and often · Adapts quickly to all new threats
· Repairs infected files and restores them So, without further ado, let's take a look at our top three anti-virus downloads and see why they came out on top.

Our Good Antivirus Software Pick: McAfee VirusScan (#3 overall)

McAfee is a huge presence in the antivirus field and that shows in this high-quality solution. VirusScan has a number of new features this year that add extra protection to other communication realms like instant messaging.

Protecting loss of data and privacy, VirusScan detects potentially malicious desktop applications like spyware, adware, Web dialers and more.

It also provides extra protection against scripts, trojans, and mass mailers by monitoring and shutting down processes that show an abnormal usage spike.

VirusScan also includes new and enhanced integration with Outlook and Outlook Express that plug security holes often exploited by virus writers.

Here's a simple overview:

· Protects against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, and web dialers
· Includes ScriptStopper and WormStopper with auto-detect & cutoff
· Automatically updates virus signature files
· Screens instant messaging files and downloads
· Incoming mail scan removes malicious code before it reaches your hard drive

McAfee also delivers corporate antivirus solutions as evidenced by its 70 million users worldwide. All its products are top-notch.

There are also combination packages offering multi-layered protection from all types of online threats - spam, firewall, antivirus, spyware, etc.

Click here for McAfee VirusScan 8.0

 

Our Better Antivirus Software Pick: Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004 (#2 overall)

Panda Software's flagship product, Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004, is an elegantly crafted product. It does a great job while being virtually unnoticeable.

You never have to worry about excessive demands on system resources and it automatically gets all virus signature file updates. The program intuitively repairs system damage caused by viruses.

Titanium detects and resolves security holes, includes self-diagnosis, and can reinforce itself against virus attacks aimed at disabling your antivirus protection.

Here's a quick recap:

· Simple to use: install and forget about it
· Automatically detects and eliminates all types of viruses · Immediate and automatic updates against new viruses · Antivirus self-diagnosis and protection against "disabling" attacks · Maximum speed, minimum resource use, small footprint · Protects against dialer hijacks and hacking tools

Panda also makes corporate and enterprise versions of its anti-virus software. There are also a number of home user applications like antispam and personal firewall capability combined into a single Internet Security package.

And of course, all the Panda antivirus software is available to you on a free trial basis.

 

Click here for Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004

 

Our Best Antivirus Software Pick: Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro (#1 overall)

Kaspersky Labs is the leading European security software company. In every major competition, their antivirus engine consistently outperforms all other contenders by blocking 100% of virus attacks.

Their unique analysis program predicatively adapts to counter even unknown viruses, which if you think about it is your greatest area of exposure.

That effectiveness is proved by the fact that it was the only anti-virus in the world that repelled attacks of all the "ILOVEYOU" virus variations without any additional anti-virus database updates.

During a major virus outbreak, this program is the one you want watching your back.

 

Kaspersky Antivirus combines a number of additional security features with its antivirus protection.

Chief among these are the constant monitoring of your systems CRC database which reflects all system registry changes. Unauthorized changes are blocked and if necessary, reversed automatically.

Another significant advantage to Kaspersky Anti-Virus is that it has tremendous file disinfection capabilities. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to access an important, but virus-infected, file.

Kaspersky is light years ahead of the competition in this regard. That's why they are the best anti-virus software.

 

Here's a quick feature recap:

· Real-time virus protection prevents viruses from reaching hard drive
· Prevent attacks of even the most technologically advanced viruses
· Scans RAM and running programs for hidden malicious code
· Recovers all corrupted files with advanced object code
· Provides deepest possible protection by operating as a Windows system service

Kaspersky Labs offers several flavors of antivirus solutions with Personal Pro being the flagship product. They also offer corporate and enterprise versions as well as a number of other security products.

All Kaspersky Labs products have a free anti-virus software download.

 

Click here for Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro

 

So there you have it. Our top three anti-virus software downloads are:

· #3 - McAfee VirusScan 2004 8.0 · #2 - Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004 · #1 - Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro

Each virus program does an excellent job of providing quality protection. Choose the one that you like best, but definitely choose one before it's too late.

Norton Antivirus 2004: Free Download Info

Norton AntiVirus software

Norton AntiVirus is considered the world's most trusted antivirus solution, based on retail sales figures for 2000-2003. It protects email, instant messages, and other files by automatically removing viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.

New built-in features also detect certain non-virus threats such as spyware and keystroke loggers. Another new feature is the ability to scan compressed zip files without opening them. This reduces your exposure to the newest class of disguised viruses.

Product Overview

Keeping up with the times, Norton AV now finds and removes spyware, adware, and dialers. Also new is protection for instant message threats in Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger, and AIM.

Norton AV performs automatic updates by default, and you get a system-wide warning when your virus pattern files are out of date.

 

Product Features

· Automatically removes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. · Scans and cleans both incoming and outgoing email messages. · Detects and blocks viruses in instant message attachments. · Downloads new virus protection updates automatically to protect

against new threats.
· Worm Blocking detects worms such as "Nimda" in outgoing mail. · Script Blocking defends against fast-moving script-based viruses

such as "ILoveYou" and "Anna Kournikova."
· Worm Blocking and Script Blocking can detect new threats even
before virus protection updates are created for them.

Product Problems

This year's version is plagued with a lot of buggy code which creates stability problems. The software is also a major resource hog that causes the highest amount of system performance degradation out of all the antivirus software tested.

Running on a Windows XP box with multiple logins, Norton AV is quite problematic. It creates a weakened version for any user account that does not have administrator privileges, thereby increasing the risk of infection.

Norton AV also does a pretty weak job of detecting and removing spyware. Most free spyware removal programs do a better job of detection and removal.

The worst problems involve the new product activation key. The activation process is flawed and a patch has been issued. However, many users report continued difficulty activating their paid for copies.

To make matters worse, actual live tech support is billable, regardless of the fact that you've just paid for the software and it doesn't work right.

Bottom line: Try it if you like, but there are dozens of better products out there. Don't be fooled by a brand name that's yesterday's news.

 

Product Pricing

The price for the downloaded copy is $49.95. There is an extra $9.95 charge to have a back-up CD copy sent separately. Plus shipping and handling: $3.95 US, $4.95 International.

You save $20 if you're upgrading from a previous version.

 

The retail package includes the CD and the manual. It also sells for $49.95.

Twelve months of protection updates are included with purchase of Norton AntiVirus 2004. Annual subscriptions are available separately for subsequent updates.

Free Download
Norton Antivirus 2004 Update

 

I'm afraid that this year there is no free download option for Norton Antivirus software.

 

Just Kidding!

 

Of course, there's a free trial!

 

Click here for your free Norton AntiVirus download

You can also get a free download of Norton AntiVirus Professional 2004 and the Norton Internet Security 2004 bundle. All totaled, there are ten free downloads available on the Symantec web site.

Take a copy out for a test drive today, but don't count on it for topnotch protection!

 

Rating: Two stars (out of five)

Free Antivirus Software

Free antivirus software is a good solution if you can't afford the commercial version. One easy way for home users to get virus protection free is to use a free anti-virus download.

While not as advanced as the commercial anti-virus solutions, these downloads still provide a significant amount of virus protection. A free anti-virus program is generally either anti-virus free ware or a stripped-down version of a company's commercial anti-virus software.

The free anti-virus software won't offer all the features and probably won't have virus definitions that are updated daily or automatically. Those are important because its always the newest computer virus that wreaks the most havoc.

Still, you must have anti-virus protection and free anti-virus downloads are quick fixes that are easy to install. So, take a little time and check out a free anti-virus program today.

Discover how free antivirus software and the right free anti-virus download can help you:

· Get instant protection with a free anti-virus program · How to choose the right free antivirus software · Find the best of the free anti-virus downloads

Free Antivirus Software #1: AVG Anti-virus

AVG Anti-Virus is the most popular free antivirus software for a reason. AVG has included good, basic functionality in all important product areas.

You get a decent interface, the ability to set times for full virus scans, and an automatic virus update feature.

That means you don't have to worry so much about your free virus removal program getting badly out of touch with reality. For free virus removal, AVG Anti-Virus does a good job at both detection and removal. Many free antivirus software programs only detect and surprise you with a demand for payment if you actually want to remove anything! Of course, AVG Anti-Virus is not one of those.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is a stripped-down version and lacks the full functionality of AVG Anti-Virus Professional. You lose the ability to do any advanced testing or scheduling of scans.

You also don't get the advanced user interface, so things seem a bit kludged. But, for a free anti-virus program, the detection and removal capabilities are quite good.

Most importantly, there is no technical support. However, AVG AntiVirus Free Edition is still a very good free anti-virus download and is fairly easy to understand and operate.

Pluses:

· Includes AVG anti-virus email scanner · Automatic update of virus definitions · Professional version available

Shortcomings:

· Basic user interface only
· Disabled advanced scheduling of tests · Disabled creating of your own tests · No technical support at all

Despite these shortcomings, the AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition software is a very good product. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for free anti-virus protection.

Free Antivirus Software #2: AntiVir Personal Edition

AntiVir Personal Edition offers effective virus protection free for individual and private use on a single PC. This free anti virus software detects and removes more than 70,000 viruses.
AntiVir free antivirus software provides scanning and repair of macro viruses as well as protection against previously unknown macro viruses. It also provides protection against previously unknown boot record viruses and master boot record viruses.

That's important because its always the new viruses that strike when you've forgotten to update your virus definition file.

Another nice feature is their "one ring to rule them all" development approach. One version covers all the various OS platforms from Unix to MS-DOS to the Windows flavor of the month club.

There's also a paid version. Actually, I prefer a free antivirus software product that has a paid version because you know that the company will still be online the next time you look for them.

Pluses:

· One version covers all operating systems · Virus definition file detects if version update needed · Professional version available for a fee

Shortcomings:

· You must manually retrieve new virus definition files · You must uninstall old version to switch to new version · Support is only available through bulletin board postings · Support forum is mostly in German with some English help

All in all, AntiVir is a quality free anti-virus software program. It's our second choice for free virus protection.

 

Free Antivirus Software

To get virus protection free, you're going to have to do a free antivirus download. The good news is that free antivirus software is available from most of the leading virus protection vendors.

In addition to AVG Anti-Virus and the AntiVir, you can get free antivirus software from companies like Panda, McAfee, and Norton Anti-virus. These are not stripped down versions. They are fully functional anti-virus programs.
The difference here is that while they are technically free antivirus software, many of these vendors include a time limit on their operation. The trade-off is that these packages do a superior job at virus detection and removal.

In addition, their real-time protection is significantly better. That means you are isolating viruses before they have a chance to infect your hard drive.

I much prefer the preventative protection to the alternative – an often laborious removal and disinfection process.

 

You only have to lose important data to a virus attack once to be forever wary of a repeat occurrence.

 

So, take a few minutes and compare these programs to their strippeddown brethren before making your decision.

 

Free Anti Virus Downloads

 

Our top three free anti-virus software downloads are:

· Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004 · Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro · Norton AntiVirus 2004

For space reasons, we're only going to recap the feature sets of these free antivirus downloads. While Norton AntiVirus 2004 is the big name in antivirus software, it is a comparatively weak solution and somewhat problematic in operation.

See our Anti-Virus Software and Norton Antivirus pages for the full reviews.

 

Free Antivirus Download #1: Panda Titanium Anti-virus

Panda Software's flagship product, Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004, is an elegantly crafted product. It does a great job while being virtually unnoticeable.
You never have to worry about excessive demands on system resources and it automatically gets all virus signature file updates. The program intuitively repairs system damage caused by viruses.

Titanium detects and resolves security holes, includes self-diagnosis, and can reinforce itself against virus attacks aimed at disabling your antivirus protection.

Here's a quick recap:

· Simple to use: install and forget about it
· Automatically detects and eliminates all types of viruses · Immediate and automatic updates against new viruses · Antivirus self-diagnosis and protection against "disabling" attacks · Maximum speed, minimum resource use, small footprint · Protects against dialer hijacks and hacking tools

Panda Antivirus is an excellent all-around antivirus download. You get a lot of additional security functionality along with the free antivirus download.

Click here for your free trial of Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004

 

Free Antivirus Download #2: Kaspersky Anti-virus

Kaspersky is light years ahead of the antivirus competition in features and functionality. That's why they're our pick for the best anti-virus software overall.

Here's a quick feature recap:

· Real-time virus protection prevents viruses from reaching hard drive
· Provides deepest protection by operating as a Windows system service
· Prevent attacks of even the most technologically advanced viruses
· Scans RAM and running programs for hidden malicious code
· Recovers all corrupted files with advanced object code
· Detects 100% of even unknown viruses in every major test You can't go wrong with Kaspersky for your free anti-virus download.

Click here for your free trial of Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro

 

Free Antivirus Download #3 Norton Anti-Virus 2004

Norton AntiVirus is considered the world ’s most trusted antivirus solution, based on retail sales figures for 2000-2003. It protects email, instant messages, and other files by automatically removing viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.

Norton Antivirus 2004 free download now finds and removes spyware, adware, and dialers. Also new is protection for instant message-borne threats.

New built-in features also detect certain non-virus threats such as spyware and keystroke loggers. Another new feature is the ability to scan compressed zip files without opening them. This reduces your exposure to the newest class of disguised viruses.

Norton AntiVirus 2004 Features:

· Automatically removes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. · Scans and cleans both incoming and outgoing email messages. · Detects and blocks viruses in instant message attachments. · Downloads new virus protection updates automatically · Worm Blocking detects worms such as “Nimda” in outgoing mail. · Script Blocking defends against fast-moving script-based viruses · Worm Blocking and Script Blocking can detect new threats even

before virus protection updates are created for them.

However, there are several major drawbacks to this year's version of the Norton AntiVirus free download. Chief among them are stability problems, resource issues, and weak performance compared to its peers. For more info, see our review of Norton Antivirus.

Take a few minutes and get your Norton Antivirus free download. Go ahead and take it for a test drive today, but don't count on it for topnotch protection!
Click here for your free trial of Norton AntiVirus

Don't play Russian Roulette with your PC. Get free antivirus software protection in place today.

Free Virus Scan Websites

Performing a free virus scan is a very good idea, particularly if your current antivirus protection is weak or non-existent.

 

We've assembled a list of the top four online virus scans for you.

· Trend Micro HouseCall · Kaspersky Virus Checker · BitDefender Scan Online · Panda ActiveScan

All of them do a very good job, but each has slightly different features and capabilities. Be sure to read the comments, particularly if you are not sure what ActiveX controls are and how to adjust those settings in your browser.

Most of the online virus scans only work on Internet Explorer. If that's not your browser of choice, then drop down to the Panda ActiveScan for cross-platform functionality.

Trend Micro HouseCall

 

The most popular free online virus scanner is HouseCall by Trend Micro, Inc.

 

Scan Your PC: Ease your mind and scan your PC for viruses. Scan Now. It's Free!

 

Free Virus Scan

HouseCall free virus scan offers a quick and easy check-up. We urge all computer users to install a good antivirus software that is easy to update (look for phrases like one-button pattern update) and capable of scanning Internet traffic.

Trend Micro's HouseCall not only performs a free online virus scan, it provides virus removal as well. Most of the other online scans only tell you if they detect a virus, but don't actually repair it.
That step usually requires downloading their software which takes some time. We recommend Kaspersky Labs AntiVirus for that process because they have the best overall antivirus software and their free trial is a fully-functional version.

See our Antivirus Software page for full reviews of the top three computer virus protection downloads.

The HouseCall free virus scan requires operating system software of Windows 95 or higher. You will also need Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher.

Netscape and Macintosh browsers are not supported for an online virus scan at this time.

Trend Micro HouseCall makes use of cookies and Active-X controls loaded onto your PC from our HouseCall server. If you prohibit the loading of these controls, the service will not work.

Therefore your Internet Security settings must allow the loading and use of cookies and Active-X controls.

 

Trend Micro's PC-cillin, which has won numerous awards, is a solid choice for the individual user.

 

Kaspersky Virus Checker

 

Another high-quality free virus scan is Kaspersky Labs Virus Checker.

 

Need a free virus scan?

When you do need one, you want the best online virus scan available. Hands down, Kaspersky Labs offers the best free virus scanner. It uses the same virus scan engine as their award winning antivirus software.

See our review of Antivirus Software.

You can perform a quick check online or download a fully-functional copy of their virus scanner to examine your system from top to bottom.

How to do your Free Virus Check

 

Use this link: Virus Scan

 

Click the big button at top right: "Online Virus Checker".

Kaspersky's online virus checker lets you check your files quickly and free of charge. You indicate the file to be checked, this file is uploaded from your computer to the "sanitary" server where it is scanned by the top-rated anti-virus program, Kaspersky Anti-Virus.

Even the most recent viruses won't be missed as anti-virus databases are updated daily.

If you aren't technical and don't know the name of your infected file, don't worry. Instead of trying to figure out what to upload, just download their antivirus software.

You get the whole enchilada to use absolutely free for 30 days, gratis.

Just click the link titled "Downloads" and select "Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal". Once the download completes, you can run a complete scan.

BTW, that's the same thing that almost all the other online virus scans do. You download the software and check your PC.

 

BitDefender Free Online Virus Scan

BitDefender Scan Online is a fully functional antivirus product, with a web-based interface and featuring all required elements for remote antivirus scanning and cleaning.

It scans system's memory, all files, folders and drives' boot sector, providing the user with the option to automatically clean the infected files.

Online Virus Scan

Incorporating the latest virus protection technologies, BitDefender Scan Online is the world’s first online virus scanner accessible entirely through an Internet web browser.
BitDefender Scan Online virus scans for over 70,000+ viruses, worms, trojans and other malicious applications. It includes optional features to virus scan inside of archives, memory, boot sectors, system processes, e-mail databases, and network drives.

BitDefender Scan Online is built around the flexible BitDefender plug-in technology that has been designed for ease of integration across various operating systems and architectures.

This technology allows BitDefender Scan Online to virus scan deep into the system processes to eradicate elusive virus strains and utilizes the exact same powerful BitDefender Professional virus detection engines used in the desktop virus protection suite.

You can also download an evaluation copy of BitDefender Standard or Professional while you are there.

 

Panda ActiveScan - Free Online Scanner

Now, ridding your computer of viruses is even easier with the new Panda ActiveScan. You don't need to install any programs, just connect to the Internet and simply click whenever you want to clean your computer.

Free Virus Scanner

Click on "Online virus check" or on the Panda ActiveScan icon. A new browser window will open with Panda ActiveScan. If this is the first time you scan your PC, you'll have to download the ActiveX controls (1.5 MB) which can take about five minutes with a 56 KB modem.

It scans, disinfects and eliminates viruses from all parts of your system, hard disks, compressed files and all your e-mail.

Panda ActiveScan incorporates a powerful heuristic system capable of detecting new or unknown viruses. It is updated at least once a day, so each scan will be able to detect even the latest viruses.

You can also download free trial versions of the various Panda antivirus software products from the same page.

Spyware removal protects your privacy

Spyware removal software and free spyware remover tools are essential to your online safety. Get the information you need to pick the right spyware removal software today.

You'll be amazed at the amount of adware and spyware that infests your PC. Adware gets added by dozens of programs like Kazaa, Morpheus, Bonzi Buddy, and others of the same ilk.

Spyware is secretly placed on your computer without your consent or knowledge by unscrupulous websites and dangerous downloads.

You're not safe online without spyware detection and removal. But, to actually be safe from then on, you need a spyware blocker to prevent its return.

Many programs detect and remove spyware, but very few include the necessary blocking capability.

In this article, we're covering the top three commercial spyware removers on the market. We've analyzed the test results and are ranking those top three as good, better, and best.

Before we jump right into the reviews, we'll explain what spyware is, how you get it, and why you want to remove it.

 

For information on free spyware removers, jump over to our Free Spyware Removal page.

Just remember that compared to their commercial brethren, they are puny and underdeveloped, thereby leaving you still at risk for certain types of spyware.

Free spyware removers are either stripped down versions of the software that's for sale, or they are developed by hobby programmers who rely on contributions in return for their efforts.

They don't provide the necessary protection, only a false sense of security.

 

What is Spyware?

 

Spyware are evil programs that hide on your computer and do a number of harmful and annoying things without your knowledge.

Spyware programs are known to steal information from your computer such as credit card numbers, email addresses, addresses, surfing habits, and more.

How you got infected with Spyware

 

There are three main ways that spyware gets on your computer:

1. Free programs you downloaded are bundled with spyware in the install. This is common in the P2P file-sharing arena. Kazaa, iMesh, Grokster, and so on practice this method.

2. Many spyware parasites load using Internet Explorer's ActiveX installation option. This allows evil websites to automatically install spyware on your machine the moment you visit their website without your knowledge.

3. By exploiting bugs in Internet Explorer and Windows some evil websites load dozens of spyware parasites on your machine without your knowledge.

Why you want spyware removal

 

Spyware is just what it's describes as - software that spies on you without your knowledge or consent.

Some spyware is adware and it triggers annoying popup ads based on your surfing habits and the trigger companies advertising relationships. DoubleClick is among the worst offenders in this regard.

Other spyware is actually malicious code or malware that aims to subvert your computer for nefarious purposes. You might find that your dial-up connection has been hijacked and replaced with a $2 a minute service.

Or, your browser might be hijacked and you're forced to sites that you have no intention of visiting or directed to search engines that contain garbage pail results.

Worst of all, certain spyware programs are linked to identity theft. They secretly report back to repository websites any confidential information they can find.

That might be credit card numbers from an online purchase, bank account information from online bill paying, or social security numbers from your online tax return.

Yikes! Considering all the things that you use your computer for, you most definitely do not want spyware doing their nasty deeds behind your back.

Spyware Removal Review Criteria

 

Obviously, anti-spyware programs all aim to do the same three things:

· Spyware detection · Spyware removal · Spyware blocker

You want your anti-spyware program to detect spyware, remove spyware, and block any new spyware implants. Not many programs even do all three tasks, let alone do a great job on each.

However, our top three are up to the task and then some!

 

Good Spyware Removal Pick: X-Cleaner from X-Block (#3 Overall)

X-Cleaner is an amazing product, with features that go way beyond the normal spyware detection and removal realm. It has a very small footprint with tightly written Assembler code.

The excellent programming makes installation very easy. To run this software, just download and click once. It comes in a single file. No installations, complex procedures or advanced knowledge required. Simple and easy.

X-Cleaner scans for spyware and adware. It also cleans cookies, cache, memory, temporary files, instant messaging files, picture files, and a host of other handy cleanup areas.

The program protects your start page and includes a drop-and-drag shredder utility to really remove deleted items.

X-Cleaner includes an Image Scan utility to find and review old stored pictures. It provides a Start Program management screen, a secure password generator/storage utility, and even monitors and displays all activity on your communication ports.

Here's a quick feature recap:

· Adware and spyware detection
· Adware and spyware removal
· Start page lockdown to prevent hijacking · Additional point & click system cleanup · Secures passwords and comm ports · Incredibly fast and efficient

X-Cleaner provides a tremendous amount of value above and beyond spyware detection and removal. You really have to experience it to understand just how powerful and useful X-Cleaner is.

You can even use your licensed copy on any other computer or notebook you own. No need to purchase multiple copies for your home network.

Plus, there's even a free trial version located on the FAQ page.

 

Click here for X-Cleaner Spyware Remover

 

Better Spyware Removal Pick: Spy-Killer V3.0 (#2 Overall)

The Spy-Killer program does a great job of spyware detection. It scans your PC memory, windows registry, and entire hard drive. The spyware detector locates and removes even the latest spy software, keyloggers, and adware including the CoolWebSearch program which gives so many other spyware removal programs great difficulty.

Spy-Killer features an always-on shield that prevents certain types of spyware or adware from being installed.

 

It runs minimized in the background and can also run in stealth mode. If someone tries to install spyware or adware, Spy-Killer will stop it.

A nice extra pair of features are the Home Page Lock and the Browser Blocker. The Home Page Lock prevents it from being hijacked by an Active-X script, a trick employed by several hundred evil websites.

The Browser Blocker also bounces you away from these sites. Should an unknown site try to activate malware code against you, Browser Blocker safely whisks you away from harm.

Here's the key features recap:

· Spy software & adware detector · Spy software & adware killer · Spyware & adware shield
· Home page lock
· Browser blocker
· Has free trial option

Spy-Killer V3.0 from Maxion Software provides a great 1-2-3 punch against spyware. Don't settle for a spyware removal program that doesn't detect, remove, and block. Otherwise, you're just repeating the same cycle over and over again.

And, one more great feature. It has a free trial. If you like how it works, simply register the product for full functionality.

 

Click here for your free trial of Spy-Killer V3.0

 

Best Spyware Removal Pick: PestPatrol (#1 Overall)

PestPatrol is a powerful security and personal privacy tool. It detects and eliminates destructive pests like trojans, spyware, adware and hacker tools.

PestPatrol is #1 in the worldwide market for a reason. It complements your anti-virus and firewall software, extending your protection against non-viral malicious software that can evade your existing security and invade your personal privacy.

These pests often lurk silently on your computer until something or someone sets them off. When that happens, you could lose passwords, personal data, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

Here's how PestPatrol prevents this from happening:

· Scans all or selected file types
· Scans memory for pests and kills them
· Checks and removes pests from registry and start-up · Prevents spyware cookies from entering
· Downloads updates automatically
· Quarantines or deletes any identified pest

PestPatrol is effective against keystroke loggers, browser hijackers, and remote admin trojans (rats). Their website is comprehensive and informative.

Pest Patrol offers a free online scan and a free spyware removal download.

 

Click here for your free trial of Pest Patrol

 

So there you have it. Our top three spyware removal programs are:

· X-Cleaner from X-Block · Spy-Killer V3.0
· Pest Patrol
Anti spyware programs are an absolute necessity to keep your online habits safe from prying eyes. Remove all those unwanted spyware programs from your PC today.

Be sure to use a spyware removal program that detects, removes, and blocks. Most spyware programs don't offer a full feature set. Our top three programs do that and more.

Don't wait any longer. Start your free spyware removal trial now! You'll really be amazed and impressed with the results.

Free Spyware Removal Programs

Free spyware removal software is an easy way to rid your PC of adware and spyware. There are several free spyware removal tools that do a good job of protecting your privacy.

To remove spyware, we recommend the following spyware remover programs:

· Lavasoft AdAware
· Spybot Search & Destroy · Pest Patrol

Each free anti-spyware download is a high-quality solution that's timetested and reliable. Complete reviews are below.

 

Adware

The most common type of spy you'll encounter is what's known as adware. Adware is any software application in which advertising is caused to be displayed while the program is running.

These applications include additional code that links you to the ads, which appear as pop-up windows.

Adware has been criticized for occasionally including code that tracks a user's personal information and passes it on to third parties, without your authorization or knowledge.

Ads are often tailored based on your surfing habits or closely matched to the website you are visiting at the time.

 

Spyware

 

Spyware are evil programs that hide on your computer and do a number of harmful and annoying things without your knowledge.

 

Spyware programs are known to steal information from your computer such as credit card numbers, email addresses, addresses, surfing habits, and more.

You'll be amazed at the amount of adware and spyware that infests your PC. Adware gets added by dozens of programs like Kazaa, Morpheus, Bonzi Buddy, and others of the same ilk.

Spyware is secretly placed on your computer without your consent or knowledge by unscrupulous websites and dangerous downloads.

 

You're not safe online without spyware detection and removal. A free spyware removal utility is a good starting point.

But, to actually be safe from then on, you need a spyware blocker to prevent its return. Many programs detect and remove spyware, but very few include the necessary blocking capability.

For programs that block spyware and adware from re-infecting your computer all over again, you need one of our top three spyware removal tools. Those are reviewed on the Spyware page.

Free Spyware Removal #1 Lavasoft's AdAware

AdAware is superbly efficient at spyware detection and removal. Spyware definition updates are frequent and available with a click of a button on the AdAware console.

Lavasoft is the industry leader in free spyware removal and the most respected provider of anti-spyware solutions.

With its ability to comprehensively scan your memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known datamining, aggressive advertising, and tracking components, AdAware will provide the user with the confidence to surf the Internet knowing that their privacy will remain intact.

One great feature of AdAware is a comprehensive help system built into the program. It walks you through first-time setup, answers tweaking questions, and explains how-to get the most of your spyware removal tool.
Here's a quick feature recap:

· Adware and spyware detection · Adware and spyware removal · Easy point & click system cleanup · Incredibly fast and efficient

AdAware is simple to install, quick to do its work, and very good at spyware removal.

 

Where to download AdAware

 

AdAware is available in three versions - Free, Plus, and Pro.

The AdAware Plus Edition provides real-time monitoring and blocking for your system. Not only can you remove privacy threats from your computing environment, you can also BLOCK them from invading your system in the first place!

The AdAware Professional Edition is designed to provide continuous protection from known Datamining, aggressive advertising, parasites, scumware, keyloggers, selected traditional trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers, and tracking components. And it also includes network scanning capabilities.

The download page for all versions of AdAware is Lavasoft AdAware

 

Free Spyware Removal #2 Spybot Search & Destroy

Spybot Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer. Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover.

If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't intentionally install, if your browser crashes, or if you browser start page has changed without your knowing, you most probably have spyware.
Spybot Search & Destroy has built a quality reputation on the Net for free spyware removal since 2000. The amount of programming time invested since then is enormous with an extensive definition file of over 10,000 detection files.

Spybot-S&D can also clean usage tracks, an interesting function if you share your computer with other users and don't want them to see what you worked on.

It does a superb job at spyware detection and removal. The software is also rated excellent against malware like dialer hijackers, commercial keystroke loggers, and most trojans.

Here's a quick feature recap:

· Detects spybot, adware, and malware · Spybot, adware, and malware remover · Cleans user history and usage tracks · Incredibly fast and efficient

However, do not use Spybot Search & Destroy without an effective antivirus solution and personal firewall in place. A multi-layered defense is always your best bet.

Kaspersky Labs Antivirus software is still the only program that can effectively block new, unknown viruses and trojans. See the Kaspersky website for details (and a free download).

For a high-quality, name-brand personal firewall, go with Zone Lab's Zone Alarm product. There's a free version available on the Zone Lab website that's quite good and compatible with Spybot S&D.

Spyware S&D does an adequate job at blocking new threats before they reach your hard drive. It blocks ActiveX download threats, blocking IE tracking cookies, and looking out for download threats.

It is important to note that you must use the Professional version of Spybot Search & Destroy to automate your scan and removal process.

In between scans, you are vulnerable to evil critters that have slipped onto your PC. Just look at your removal list to see the benefits of realtime protection.

Where to download Spybot Search & Destroy

 

You can download the Spybot-S&D free spyware removal program from the www.safer-networking.org web site.

 

The download page is Spybot Search & Destroy

 

Free Spyware Removal #3 PestPatrol (#1 Overall)

PestPatrol is a powerful security and personal privacy tool. It detects and eliminates destructive pests like trojans, spyware, adware and hacker tools.

PestPatrol is #1 in the worldwide market for a reason. It complements your anti-virus and firewall software, extending your protection against non-viral malicious software that can evade your existing security and invade your personal privacy.

These pests often lurk silently on your computer until something – or someone – sets them off.

 

When that happens, you could lose passwords, personal data, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

 

Here's how PestPatrol prevents this from happening:

· Scans all or selected file types Scans memory for pests and kills them
· Checks and removes pests from registry and start-up
· Prevents spyware cookies from entering
· Downloads updates automatically
· Quarantines or deletes any identified pest

PestPatrol is effective against keystroke loggers, browser hijackers, and remote admin trojans (rats). Their website is comprehensive and informative.
Pest Patrol offers a free online scan and a free spyware removal download.

The download page is Pest Patrol

 

Our top three free spyware removal programs are:

· Lavasoft AdAware
· Spybot Search & Destroy · Pest Patrol

Using a free spyware removal program is an absolute necessity for keeping your online habits safe from prying eyes. Remove all those unwanted spyware programs from your PC today.

Don't wait any longer. Pick your free spyware remover and get started now!

Spybot Search & Destroy nails 99% of spy bots

Spybot Search & Destroy is a great spy bot remover. Spybot S&D will destroy spyware on your PC and many a computer problem will vanish at the same time.

This page is so you can get info on:

· Where to download Spybot Search & Destroy. · Discover why this Spybot S D software gets rave reviews. · Getting updates from Spybot home.

This spy bot remover will definitely search and destroy all spyware on your computer. Download your free Spybot program today.

 

Spybot Home

 

Spybot Home has moved. The old www.spybot.info website is now redirected to:

 

Spyware Search & Destroy

 

Spybot Search & Destroy is the work of Patrick Kolla. He's labored long and hard to build an excellent free spyware removal tool.

That doesn't mean you should take advantage of his generosity without making a support donation. Use the PayPal link on his site and definitely make a donation if you are going to use Spybot Search & Destroy as your primary spyware detection and removal tool.

Why Spybot S&D gets rave reviews.

Spybot Search & Destroy has built a quality reputation on the Net for free spyware detection and removal since 2000. The amount of programming time invested since then is enormous with an extensive definition file of over 10,000 detection files.

It does a superb job at spyware detection and removal. The software is also rated excellent against malware like dialer hijackers, commercial keystroke loggers, and most trojans.
However, do not use Spybot Search & Destroy without an effective antivirus solution and personal firewall in place. A multi-layered defense is always your best bet.

Kaspersky Labs Antivirus software is still the only program that can effectively block new, unknown viruses and trojans. See the Kaspersky website for details (and a free trial).

For a high-quality, name-brand personal firewall, go with Zone Lab's Zone Alarm product. There's a free version available at Zone Lab that's quite good and is compatible with Spybot S&D.

Spyware S&D does an adequate job at blocking new threats before they reach your hard drive. It blocks ActiveX download threats, blocking IE tracking cookies, and looking out for download threats.

It is important to note that you must use the Professional version of Spybot Search & Destroy to automate your scan and removal process.

In between scans, you are vulnerable to evil critters that have slipped onto your PC. Just look at your removal list to see the benefits of realtime protection.

Where to download Spybot Search & Destroy

 

You can download Spybot-S&D from the www.safer-networking.org web site.

 

The download page is:

 

Spyware Search & Destroy Download

 

Please make a contribution so that Patrick receives some financial compensation for his work.

 

Where to get updates

 

Updates to Spybot S & D are released periodically.

 

Check the download page for new definition updates.

 

Spybot Updates

 

Where to get Spybot SD questions answered

 

Check the FAQ page:

 

Spybot Question FAQ

 

Then go to the support page:

 

Spybot Support Page

Spybot Search & Destroy has an excellent search function linked to their database, so finding an answer to almost any Spybot SD question is quite easy. The Spybot S D site provides multiple language support (45 different languages) and extensive help files.

This spybot remover will definitely search and destroy all spyware on your computer. Download your free Spybot Search & Destroy program today.

A Personal firewall keeps you safe online

A personal firewall blocks, on average, three hack scans a day

Today's computer security threats make using a personal firewall more important than ever. A computer firewall is no longer an option for any Internet-connected PC.

At a minimum, you must use a free one to protect your Internet computer connection from hackers and all sorts of malicious software.

 

What is a firewall?

A computer firewall is simply a hardware device or software program that allows into your computer only the programs and data you decide are acceptable. Firewalls are the best defense a computer can have. Simply put, a firewall detects, rejects, and protects.

How a firewall works

A firewall isolates your computer from the Internet by inspecting each piece of data - inbound or outbound - as it reaches the firewall. It uses certain basic rules to decide what goes through and what doesn't.

Each little package of data must correctly identify itself by specifying a destination address and a port number on that computer. It must also contain its originating address and the port number from which it was sent.

Think of it as the address information on a regular envelope - both return address and recipient.

Since every data package contains this address information, a firewall can selectively accept or reject the various packages of data it receives.

Certain rules specify which ports are valid destinations on your computer. Other rules specify which ports are valid senders from your computer.
Each data packages also contains a little snippet which states whether it is initiating a conversation or acknowledging one that is already taking place. Rules stipulate how data conversations can be initiated and how they must be acknowledged.

Your firewall knows which packages match its rules and are therefore acceptable. All other packages are refused delivery and go no further than the firewall.

Hardware firewall

A hardware firewall is an external device that resides outside your computer. A software firewall is a program that resides inside your computer.

Both types of firewalls analyze all incoming and outgoing traffic according to preset rules. You can also add additional instructions to your firewall that will allow certain types of additional communication.

Using a hardware firewall on a home computer is rare as they are designed to isolate and protect computer networks. In some cases though, you might use a hardware firewall at home.

Many people network their home computers together and connect to the Internet through a single, high-speed connection, usually cable or DSL. Several manufacturers include firewalls within the cable/DSL routers sold in most home electronics stores.

These hardware firewalls disguise everything behind them with their own unique addresses, called subnets. Communication like this uses Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT essentially hides you from prying eyes outside, just as if you were behind tall castle walls.

Software firewall

A software firewall performs the same functions as a hardware firewall. It places a wall of code in front of all data transmissions instead of a physical device that essentially contains its own wall of code.

Either type of firewall will provide the necessary castle walls you need for your computer. In addition, you'll need to strengthen your castle walls with antivirus protection, spam prevention, spyware removal software.

Free personal firewall

A free computer firewall provides security software that blocks trojans and worms on a cost-effective basis. Your software firewall is easy to install from a firewall download. You'll quickly have much needed firewall protection in place in less than five minutes.

Firewall software is a must to keep hackers out of your PC. Your firewall also provides a multi-layered defense against virus attacks. Get your protection in place BEFORE it's too late.

Where you can get a free firewall

Every computer needs firewall protection. Several companies make free personal firewalls available. The best one is Zone Alarm from Zone Labs.

Zone Alarm is a scaled down version of the top-selling Zone Alarm Pro. Millions of people use this award-winning security for Internetconnected PCs.

You can get their excellent free firewall, Zone Alarm, or a 30-day free trial of Zone Alarm Pro. Both keep hackers at bay with protection against worms, Trojans, spyware.

The Pro version also protects against 47 types of malicious email attachments. Zone Alarm Pro includes Cookie Control and Ad Blocking for a faster, safer Internet experience.

Click here for your free personal firewall software

You know there's absolutely no sense in not keeping your computer and private data as safe as possible. Add firewall protection to your computer today.

Free Firewall Software

Using a free firewall is a vast improvement over the risky choice of not using one at all. It may not be the best firewall protection compared with the more robust commercial versions, but the best firewall software will keep you safe from most Internet-related trouble.

Obviously, for your internet firewall to be completely effective, your Windows PC must have all the Microsoft security patches applied. You should also be sure to adjust your Internet Explorer settings as detailed on our Computer Security page.

Personal firewall software can't save you from yourself, so you should also be using a Spam Filter and Antivirus Software as well.

 

Now that we've covered the basic necessity of having a multi-layered defense, let's examine what a free firewall can offer you.

· Controls traffic based on protocol, ports and application · Blocks the network traffic based on the content of packets · Regulates access behavior such as application startup &

interaction
· Limits access to internal resources such as hard disk and system · Protects your data against un-trusted programs or users

Personal Firewall Software #1 Zone Alarm (#1 overall)

The most popular personal firewall is Zone Alarm by Zone Labs. Zone Labs is the leader in personal and distributed firewall technology trusted on over 25 million PCs.

Their proven firewall technology protects your identity by keeping hackers away from your passwords, account numbers, and valuable data.

Zone Alarm's advanced privacy solutions stops Web sites from following you online plus it also stops annoying pop-ups. The Zone Alarm firewall software is extremely easy to use. Novices can protect their computers immediately. Advanced users can personalize their privacy protection.

Zone Labs continues to win its share of industry awards. They offer three versions of personal firewalls - Zone Alarm (free), Zone Alarm Plus (adds MailSafe), and Zone Alarm Pro (adds cookie/spyware control). These are products you can trust.

Zone Alarm offers the best in free firewall protection.

 

Click here for the best personal firewall software: Zone Alarm

 

Personal Firewall Software #2 Tiny Personal Firewall (#2 overall)

Tiny Personal Firewall 5.0 (TPF5) represents the next generation security solution. It integrates several protection layers for the ultimate safety of computers running the various Microsoft Windows operating systems.

The Tiny firewall software blocks network activity, stops unknown viruses and spyware, accurately controls application behavior, and protects your files and settings.

Tiny Software's security technology allows you to create rules for specific applications running under specific accounts and apply them simultaneously to different users on the Windows XP Home and Pro operating systems.

Tiny Personal Firewall is not supported on any earlier versions of the Windows operating system before Windows 2000. There is an online and downloadable PDF version of the manual.

Click here to access your free firewall download of Tiny Personal Firewall

 

Personal Firewall Software #3 Norton Personal Firewall 2004 (#3 overall)

Technically, the Norton firewall software is not a free download, but rather a free 30-day trial of the commercial version. However, the Norton brand name creates considerable demand for this product.

Norton Personal Firewall 2004 delivers all the basic firewall functions in a comprehensive package. You get access control, privacy control, intrusion detection, and live updating of protection files.

New this year are ad blocking integrated with Internet Explorer, and Network Detector, which allows you to specify different network protection rules for different networks. That's a very useful feature for a notebook PC.

More problematic is their new activation key. When you want to convert your free trial download to a fully functioning version, you pay online and receive an activation key by email. Needless to say, the process is not always smooth and free support is by email.

Phone support is charged by the minute. That's not a pretty picture when you're trying to get someone's software to function properly.

Norton Personal Firewall 2004 works with Windows 98 and higher. It's also available in small office bundles, and in various combinations with other Norton software products.

Click here to download Norton Personal Firewall 2004

 

Firewall Downloads

 

The top five free firewall downloads are:

· Zone Alarm Personal Firewall · Norton Personal Firewall 2004 · Tiny Firewall by Tiny Software · BlackICE Firewall by ISS · Outpost Firewall Free
Note: Symantec's McAfee Firewall is not available as a free download.

Since we've already covered the top three firewall downloads, let's take a look at BlackICE firewall and Outpost firewall free version.

 

BlackICE Firewall

This firewall software is quite popular with more advanced users. BlackICE PC Protection features both an intrusion detection system and a personal firewall for a one-two punch of protection.

The BlackICE firewall automatically detects and blocks attacks through a comprehensive inspection of all inbound and outbound information to your computer.

There is a free download version that you register to convert to the always updated commercial firewall.

 

Click here for BlackICE Firewall

 

Then click on the Download button on the upper right to get to the hidden free firewall download.

 

Outpost Firewall

 

Outpost is available in two versions: Free (1.0) and Pro (2.1). Here is a quick comparison of the differences between these versions.

Both versions have the standard packet/application filtering, network monitoring, and web privacy components. Outpost Pro Firewall software also includes stateful inspection, components control, automatic updates, and, of course, support.

That brings up an important point. If you don't know what you're doing, then either pick the straightforward Zone Alarm firewall or set your firewall software to the default settings.

You can get your free Outpost firewall download here: Outpost Firewall

There are other free firewall utilities available, but I recommend sticking with mainstream products wherever possible. The programming code is better, updates are more frequent, and there are upgrades available to their more advanced commercial brethren.

So, pick the free firewall download you want to try and get your PC protected today.

 

Stay Safe in Your Castle

 

Now you know how to stay safe within your castle walls. It’s time to translate knowing into reality.

 

Take the time to protect your castle correctly:

· Tighten your computer security settings
· Select a personal firewall as your gatekeeper
· Add spam filters to your email to keep out the riffraff · Use a virus scanner to catch anything with criminal intent · Eliminate spies with a strong spyware remover · Use best practices and common sense

I can’t overemphasize the last point.

You will be safest when you are cautious in your dealings with strangers and when your castle has the highest possible level of security.

Now that you know how to protect yourself, don’t wait any longer.

 

Let’s be safe out there!

 

Resource Links Save You Time & Money

 

Our handy resource links will help you quickly find the best sources. Websites are categorized within specific groups.

 

Be sure to download our free ebook, Winning the Online Battle: How to Stop Spam, Viruses, and Hackers Dead in Their Tracks".

 

It's a PDF file jam-packed with all our great spam, antivirus, spyware, and firewall info.

 

Plus, it contains all the resource links. :-)

You'll have a handy reference ebook to access whenever you need it. Share a copy with your friends or give it away from your website. You have full use and distribution rights.

Spam Resources

Spam Inspector 4.0 - The Spam Inspector offers award winning spam protection integrated directly into your email program. Without changing the way you send and receive email, simply installing Spam Inspector gives you the power to CLEAN YOUR INBOX, PROTECT YOUR FAMILY, AND FIGHTBACK AGAINST SPAM. Download your free copy today.

SpamAgent from SpyTech Software - SpamAgent has a comprehensive set of filters (over 1500!) that block spam and unwanted emails - before they reach your inbox. The software allows you to block all incoming attachments, or just executable/program attachments that may potentially damage your PC! Get a free 30-day trial.

Antivirus Resources

Panda Titanium Antivirus 2004 - The ideal solution for users who need security combined with ease of use: it detects and resolves security holes, includes self-diagnosis and can reinforce itself against virus attacks. The most advanced security technology ensures maximum speed with minimum resource use. Quick free trial download.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro - Kaspersky Labs is the leading European security software company. In every major competition, their antivirus engine consistently outperforms all other contenders by blocking 100% of virus attacks. Free trial available.

The Anti-Virus Directory - Top name Anti-Virus Software Companies. One of the largest Anti-Virus Directories online.

 

Spyware Resources

Pest Patrol - The #1 spyware detection and removal program PestPatrol is a powerful security and personal privacy tool. It detects and eliminates destructive pests like trojans, spyware, adware and hacker tools. PestPatrol is #1 in the worldwide market for a reason. Download your free copy today.

X-Cleaner from X-Block Software - X-Cleaner scans for spyware and adware. It also cleans cookies, cache, memory, temporary files, instant messaging files, picture files, and a host of other handy cleanup areas. The program protects your start page and includes a drop-and-drag shredder utility to really remove deleted items.

Firewall Resources

Zone Alarm Firewall - The award-winning PC firewall that keeps your personal data and privacy safe from Internet hackers and data thieves. Shield your system with our proven, award-winning personal firewall.

Firewalls and Virus Protection - Use a Firewall with anti virus software to maximize online security and avoid data recovery anguish from a Hacker attack and virus infection. Before and After guidelines and info on Cookies, Spam, Spyware and Adware, popoups and popup blockers, hoax warnings, and much more. Easy reading, too.

Ebook Resources

Ezinebonanza.com - Quality Bargain & Free Ebooks Ezinebonanza.com is a quality ebookstore for small businesses. We have a great collection of ebooks - home business, internet marketing, real estate, ebay marketing, asset protection, FREE newsletters, resources and more. This is great place for stay-at-home moms, small business owners, unemployeds.

Computer Resources

PC Home Help - PC Home Help support for the home or office has online, phone and on-site technical support for you Personal Computer. Ranging anywhere from the Internet, hardware, software, Windows 98/XP/2000/ME and other programs. Tutoring and other IT Solutions. We come to you at home or office.

Bestsoftwareprice.com
We offer a large selection of computer games and childrens software at wholesale prices.

Vic's Computer Service - For any board level, laptop repair, call Vic's. Motherboard repair is our specialty, we can work on any laptop motherboard.

Eisp.biz: High Speed Dialup Access And Business Affiliate Make money from buying Internet Access! Pays on 6 levels, with a generous $10 cash payout for each referral! $12.95 a month for High Speed Dialup Access

Network Design and Integration, Network Management, Disaster Prevention and Recovery Planning - Netwise Group Inc. is a Los Angeles based consulting company that provides business automation, computer network, wireless, internet and security solutions, remote and on-site support, and cost-effective IT outsourcing.

Wonks Wireless And Electronics
Wireless network equipment for the home or small office. Simple to setup and easy to use.

Webmaster Resources

Search Engine Promotion Service
Search engine promotion service. Website promotion tips and list of all search engines.

Get Listed Now.net
Your number #1 resource for search engine submission.Offering various submission solutions designed for affordability while providing a professional service to get your website listed online.

LinkMarket :: Where link exchange is Free and Easy!
Have you ever tried to exchange links? Was it hard? Use LinkMarket instead, - it's easy to use, free and very smart. It will save you hours of work!

autoresponder
Free follow up Pro autoresponders. Follow-up automatic responders that automate tedious email tasks, build opt-in list, newsletter, and ezines. Follow up with your leads. -- www.AceResponse.com

Security Resources

SANS Top 20 Computer Vulnerabilities - The vast majority of worms and other successful cyber attacks are made possible by vulnerabilities in a small number of common operating system services. Attackers are opportunistic. Protect your computer with a multi-layered defense.

Net Sense Consulting - Net Sense delivers cost-effective solutions for computer security, wireless network security, computer networking, remote access, IP telephony, spam filters and other antispam countermeasures.

Additional Resources

Fundraiser Help - Fundraiser Help provides fundraising event ideas and tips on school fundraising, church fundraisers, and any type of youth group product fundraiser. Good source of fundraising information.
The Knowledge Network - The Knowledge Network is a directory and search engine for finding the top websites around the globe. Search more of the web.

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