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How do free security tools hold up?

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posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 05:05 PM
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I've been checking out some of the free security tools that I've used from time to time, and they seem to have improved quite a bit. For years I have used Norton on my main machines, and it seems that what it offers and what I pay for it are pretty unevenly matched. An expensive false sense of security, I guess. My subscription ran out and I can't justify paying them another hundred or so dollars every year. I was considering going with Kaspersky, but again, can't justify the cost.

When I look at free tools such as AVG, Avira, Avast, etc, they only seem to be lacking a bunch of unnecessary tools that are included with their for-pay counterparts. Same deal with free firewalls such as Comodo or Zone Alarm. So if that's the case, is there any real disadvantage to using a free security program? Is there any real difference in what they can and can not detect/block?

As far as I can tell, the answer is no. My Norton License was for 5 PCs and I have 8. All of the computers that are used heavily had Norton on them, and while it seemed to have kept them clean, all of the others that were running free programs did alright as well. Since switching, my PC has slowed down a little bit in terms of web browsing, but I think that is probably due to the firewall and antivirus live monitoring conflicting with each other(which can be configured), and they are probably still "learning" what's ok and what's not. What do the security experts out there have to say? I mostly depend on common sense as apposed to any technical security know-how to keep myself safe, but I'd be interested to hear what they have to say.

What's everyone's preferred combination of tools?

My current setup:
Browser: Firefox with Adblock Plus
Anti-Virus: Avast Free
Firewall: Zone Alarm Free
Anti-Malware: Malwarebytes and Adaware

Looking forward to the replies.




posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 05:11 PM
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reply to post by Morgenstern89
 

Linux (any distro will do, Ubuntu is easy for people unfamiliar with Linux)
Firefox AdBlockPlus + NoScript (which you need to "allow" for most sites you use)
No virus scanner
No firewall on the PC
No malware scanner
Good luck.

ETA I should add I do have Windows 7 (dual boot) but my ISP gives a commercial virus scanner free as part of the deal. It used to be Mcafee but now they switched to F Secure. I rarely use Windows though.
edit on 25/3/12 by LightSpeedDriver because: ETA



posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 05:30 PM
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I actually have esets nod 32 which I paid last year for 2 years. I like it. I use peerblock and seamonkey as my web browser (less resource intensive) its from mozilla the guys that do firefox.

I also have a rescue disk of both the nod32 and microsofts standalone security sweeper ( I highly recommend using this at least once a month).

I use the nod 32 rescue disk on the computers its licensed for once a week or after surfing the shady spots on the intertubes and the free microsoft security sweeper on the other ones, they both work really well. I was surprised at the free ms one I will not be upgrading eset when the time comes next year.



posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 10:13 PM
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Just today, I found that a spam program had sent out spam to all in my address book. I have an up-to-date Norton anti-virus. I could tell,, however, that the thief happened before last July because of the addresses it sent out were all current then and not so now. Probably, today's sending was probably done by another computer. But even last summer I was "protected" by a current Norton.

I would think that catching a spammer hitting my mailbox would be a no-brainer for Norton. 'guess not.



posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 10:39 PM
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1. NAT Router/Firewall.
2. Windows 7 built in software firewall on or off doesn't matter if you have #1 but "on" is fine.
3. Use MSE.
Firefox with adblock plus is good just be a hint cautious in your browsing habits and you will never have an issue.
Be an intelligent consumer of email, really, think about it before you open it.

I tend to follow the theory that less is more. I backup my data and I'm prepared to reinstall if the worst happens - but it just doesn't.
Protecting yourself from the majority of possible issues is easy.
Doesn't matter what you do to protect yourself from proper hackers, if you're a target you're screwed.

PS: I haven't used anything Norton since the early 90's. Symantec Norton

edit on 25-3-2012 by trouble_every_day because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 02:41 PM
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I have found Comodo to be the best free Anti-virus app out there. In addition to Malwarebytes and Ad Aware, I also use Spybot for my Anti-malware apps.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 02:59 PM
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My first suggestion and only suggestion is get ride of ZoneAlarm, it is very bad at slowing down the network connections and will lock the connection for no reason, my recommendation is for Comodo's free version, doesn't slow the system much at all.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 06:54 PM
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I just use Microsoft security essentials and common sense, even the best anti-virus software will not protect a computer from a stupid user.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 07:40 PM
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Originally posted by DavidWillts
I just use Microsoft security essentials and common sense, even the best anti-virus software will not protect a computer from a stupid user.

That's exactly what I said.
These other products are mostly designed to instill fear, uncertainty and doubt then attempt to allay a portion of that fear whilst improving their bottom line.
They are just not required, never.
Spend as much money on your computer security as you want but please don't for a second consider it a substitute for understanding basic computer security and applying simple processes and resources.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 07:51 PM
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Originally posted by trouble_every_day

Originally posted by DavidWillts
I just use Microsoft security essentials and common sense, even the best anti-virus software will not protect a computer from a stupid user.

That's exactly what I said.
These other products are mostly designed to instill fear, uncertainty and doubt then attempt to allay a portion of that fear whilst improving their bottom line.
They are just not required, never.
Spend as much money on your computer security as you want but please don't for a second consider it a substitute for understanding basic computer security and applying simple processes and resources.



Yeah, just as an experiment once I installed different free ad-ware scanners on a computer that had a clean windows install and had not been connected to the internet. Many of them gave "results" that showed me my computer was "infected" and how they "cleaned it ". So after trying about 5 of these common free protection programs i thought it would be safe to say most of them were crap that really not do anything besides provide a false sense of security.



posted on Mar, 26 2012 @ 11:08 PM
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a few good comments about, as a long time IT geek. here is the run down:


1: use MSE, "microsoft security esstls"
2: firefox w/ adblock, flashblock
3: no adobe reader, use foxit if you can
4: make sure java is always upto date
5: use the win7 firewall
6: do NOT install, anything untrusted, no limewire, bareshare, bittottent whatever.
7: be very careful about what you click on.

-GhostInShell



posted on Mar, 27 2012 @ 03:08 AM
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies, and the recommendations. I've been testing them all out on a few PCs. All seem to be pretty resource friendly, and even a bit more straight forward in terms of the settings than with Norton. The main thing I was curious about though, was if there has been any actual determination of whether free solutions are worse than paid solutions. As I said, it seems the only difference is that pay versions offer useless (but comforting, to non-tech people) features like e-mail scanning, identity theft protection, parental controls, etc. Things I never even used with my pay software. Is there any actual difference between free and pay in terms of performance or catching infections?

In all my years of paying for Norton, I can probably only remember six or so times I was alerted that a virus was blocked. And keep in mind, none of this was during any of my "risky" behavior online. It was typically due to a website I knew to be reputable randomly being compromised. It caught what was thrown at me, but I rarely had anything thrown at me, even when I engaged in behavior that, for most people, tends to be the technological equivalent of drinking the chemicals under the sink.



posted on Apr, 3 2012 @ 01:57 PM
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Since switching, my PC has slowed down a little bit in terms of web browsing, but I think that is probably due to the firewall and antivirus live monitoring conflicting with each other(which can be configured), and they are probably still "learning" what's ok and what's not. What do the security experts out there have to say? I mostly depend on common sense as apposed to any technical security know-how to keep myself safe, but I'd be interested to hear what they have to say.


If you want a real sense of security, you should leave windows entirely and move to open-source software which is actually free, in a sense that the content and sources of the programs are publicly readable. I do not understand how people can put trust into software which is closed source and deals with "security", i find it quite laughable.

It may seem like a very tedious task, and lots of learning to do if you are unfamiliar with securing a network and any computers it houses (or even more, unfamiliar with linux/unix as a whole)... but the fact is there is no such thing as instant security (or 100% security for a matter of fact). The more you get to know your system and what it is doing, by telling your computer what to do beforehand is one of the most important things in maintaining a "clean" and secure environment.

This is something which just cannot be done with windows, and it's "free" closed source software packages, as it's almost impossible to understand or learn how windows and most of its software operates internally.

If you want to take it seriously, ideally using a common GNU/Linux distribution (if you have never used one before i would recommend debian 'stable' ), after making sure the system is entirely upto date all you would really need is this software:

Squid
Snort
iptables
nmap
rkhunter



posted on Apr, 4 2012 @ 01:27 AM
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Hey, thanks for the reply. While I appreciate the post, I really wasn't looking for "Use Linux" as a response. I'm well aware of Linux's merits, and I'll certainly take your advice when it comes to my Linux machines.

But, as I've said, in my years of using Windows I haven't had any serious problems, neither with mainstream usage nor riskier usage, so there is no need to completely change operating systems. I realize every computer discussion seems like an open invitation to push Linux, but really, there's just no need for it in this case. No serious virus problems, only a few infections over the years, and I'm generally not bothered since I always have a hardware and software firewall setup. I was asking about Windows security software because I was interested in Windows security software. I've been out of the market for it for so long that I wasn't really familiar with anything else out there, and I was interested in how well they all held up against their for-pay counterparts.



posted on Apr, 4 2012 @ 02:13 AM
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Microsoft Security Essentials is now the one piece of software I will never waver on.
After about 6 months of constant viruses, downloading god only knows how many virus cleaners etc, none of them could clean out these particularly sticky viruses and trojans I had... until MSE.
Now my machine runs clean and fast, with weekly virus checks, and I rarely get a virus anymore



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