What’s On My PC… FREE Layers of Protection!

I have had many people approach me and ask,

“What is a good Security Suite to install on my PC?”


For the sake of this article, a “Security Suite” is a proprietary combo package that offers multi-dimensional levels of protection (against spyware, viruses, malware, rootkits, etc.).

I don’t know why (well I do), I start to cringe when I hear people tell me their stories of using the “high powered” security suites (that cost money); that they either installed or simply are using because it was on their new PC. I have found it ends up being a convoluted mess that causes the user to become frustrated; often is a burden to the PC; and often ends up where they let their subscription expire (thus having no protection at all). I also get the feeling that people, who use these security suites, have a false sense of security and think they are “ultimately” protected from anything and everything.

I have experienced just about every type of security software package out there. Am I an expert? No… But, the strategy I have been adhering to, has worked; especially when it comes to “layers” of protection that I set up on my computer; without causing my computer to come to a crawl. I use no Security Suites, never have, never will…

If you plan to go the route I am about to suggest (of no Security Suite), you will need to uninstall your current security suite software. The uninstall of security software can be very tricky and I encourage you to visit the vendor’s site to explore this subject or get a tech to assist you. I also posted (2)-two recent articles on this topic:

AppRemover… Antivirus and Antispyware Uninstaller!

Uninstalling and Installing AntiVirus Software…

The listing below are the layers of protection (all FREE) I have installed on my PC…  I encourage you to check for comments following this article, due some of the techs out there may add further information or make suggestions.  All of the software reflected is FREE…

You can click on the links below to explore each specific title:

Common Sense – You can not install this… I have found that if your gut says “beware”; then follow your gut.  Also, I am not an advocate of social sites, porn sites, pirating sites, etc…. If it is something that violates morality; believe me, you will be victimized.  “Where the people gather, the cybercriminals prey”. Please use common sense!

Microsoft Windows Updates – You should set your computer to automatically update or at least alert you that updates are available. Either way, this is very, very important. Keep your operating system up to date. Microsoft usually unleashes updates the 2nd Tuesday of each month.  You can learn more about Windows Updates and “patch Tuesday” [ HERE ] .

Software Updates – Keep any software on your PC up-to-date. Popular title software that is used by the masses are often targeted by hackers looking for methods to exploit any vulnerabilities or code flaws. I currently use Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) to assist me with maintaining software updates.

Windows Vista Firewall – I currently use the Vista Firewall and have no other firewall software installed.

Properly configured, it can stop many kinds of malware before they can infect your computer or other computers on your network. Windows Firewall, which comes with Windows Vista, is turned on by default and begins protecting your computer as soon as Windows starts.[ source: Microsoft ]

WinPatrol – a robust SECURITY MONITOR , WinPatrol will alert you to hijackings, malware attacks and critical changes made to your computer without your permission. The software puts a small “Scotty Dog” in the tray area that will bark when a change occurs. It is strictly for monitoring and does not fix anything. You can also get full details about WinPatrol [ HERE ].

Avast! Antivirus Home Edition – a full-featured antivirus package, with anti-spyware and anti-rootkit built-in, that is designed exclusively for non-commercial & home use. You can also get full details about Avast! [ HERE ].

MalwareBytes Anti-Malware – an easy-to-use, simple, and effective anti-malware application. Use the “Free” version of this app to manually scan your system for malware. You can also get full details about MalwareBytes Anti-Malware [ HERE ].

SuperAntiSpyware – a next generation scanning system that goes beyond the typical rules based scanning methods. The Multi-Dimensional Scanning system detects existing threats as well as threats of the future by analyzing threat characteristics in addition to code patterns. Use the “Free” version of this app to manually scan your system for spyware. You can also get full details about SuperAntiSpyware [ HERE ] .

Spyware Blaster – can help keep your system secure, without interfering with the “good side” of the web. And unlike other programs, SpywareBlaster does not have to remain running in the background. It works alongside the programs you have to help secure your system. With the “Free” version, you will have to manually run the updates to keep your system sufficiently protected.

Firefox Browser – I currently test all of the main player browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, and Firefox).  I currently use Firefox as my main browser. You will find that most Techs are an advocate of Firefox.

Web of Trust (WOT) – WOT is a free Internet security add-on for your browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) that will keep you safe from online scams, identity theft, spyware, spam, viruses and unreliable shopping sites. WOT warns you before you interact with a risky website. It’s easy and it’s free. If you do not install this, then I recommend you read the first item on my list (common sense). You can also get full details about WOT [ HERE ].

OpenDNS – I currently use OpenDNS as a layer of protection from web site phlishing; plus, by setting up an account with OpenDNS, I can use the built in Parental Controls to filter out and block what content reaches my computer. Installing or setting up OpenDNS can be intimidating to those with non-technical experience; however, I encourage you to read more about OpenDNS [ HERE ] .

Optional: I opted to list some additional protection, that I currently use, due to my ongoing testing of software and “test” visits to the underbelly of the internet.

Sandboxie – runs your programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer. You can get full details about Sandboxie [ HERE ] .

Shadow Defender – This is the only software on the list that you would have to buy; however, if are someone who messes around with your system more than you should, then this may be for you. With Shadow Defender you can run your system in a virtual environment, called Shadow Mode. Any software changes or malware attacks that occur, will occur in the virtual environment, not in the real environment. If attacks happen, all you need to do is to reboot your system. I currently use Shadow Defender to test software products. I place the PC in shadow mode, install the software and perform my testing. Following my testing, I reboot and voila’, my computer is back to the original state it was prior to going into Shadow mode.

Reflected below are tips and other “security software” recommendations made by the  “Techs” who routinely contribute to the blog:

AVZ Antiviral Toolkit (recommend by AKSHAT) – is a Portable AntiMalware and Portable AntiSpyware Solution that was created by a Russian named Oleg Zaytsev to remove adware and spyware, network worms, trojan horses (Trojan, TrojanDownloader, TrojanSpy) and Dialers.  This app would be used when you are dealing with a system that you suspect is infected.

Spyware Terminator (recommended by the Crazy World of G) – will scan your computer for known threats and report findings in a manner that is easy to read and interpret.  Free comprehensive protection that is comparable to competitors’ paid versions!

Threatfire (recommended by the Crazy World of G) – continually protects your PC against attacks by detecting malicious behavior, such as capturing your keystrokes or stealing your data, instead of only looking for known threats like normal antivirus software. By implementing sophisticated real-time behavioral analysis ThreatFire is able to stop never- before-seen “zero-day” threats solely by detecting their malicious activity.

Hazard Shield (recommended by the Crazy World of G) – is an antimalware program that scans for any and every threat we can get our hands on. These include malicious items such as malware, viruses, spyware, trojans, backdoors, dialers and much more.Hazard Shield also comes with realtime protection that removes threats the instant they appear and before they can cause damage.  An excellent review on this application, “Hammer Malware With Hazard Shield” [source: Bill Mullins Weblog – Tech Thoughts]

Comodo Firewall (recommended by Tech-for Everyone) – is a multi-layered security application that keeps hackers out and personal information in. Built from the ground upwards with your security in mind, this award winning firewall constantly monitors and defends your system from inbound and outbound attacks. TechPaul has indicated this software firewall is for the more advanced.

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall (recommended by Tech-for Everyone) – blocks hackers from infiltrating your home PC by hiding your computer from unsolicited network traffic.

Router / Modem Tip (by Tech-for Everyone) – a most frequently overlooked aspect of protecting your PC’s is placing a router directly behind the modem, even if you aren’t ’splitting’ your Internet to multiple computers.


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29 thoughts on “What’s On My PC… FREE Layers of Protection!

Add yours

  1. Rick,

    What a well crafted article!

    Thank you taking the time; a considerable amount of time, to lay out such an easily understood primer on the value of the layered approach to system, and personal security.

    I’m in 100% agreement with you on the tools you choose to recommend. No surprise there, I’m sure.

    Now, if we can only get 25% of the computing public to follow your excellent advice, we would all be substantially more secure on the Internet.

    I’ll link back to this at the first opportunity. Is tomorrow too soon? LOL



  2. Bill,

    As always, I thank you! Nice to know that what I’m kickin’ out there, is on target!

    I thank you for the link back; AND, as I have indicated, you can (at anytime) use whatever you want from here…



  3. G,

    Thank you as well for the nice comment. Means alot to me coming from a bunch of pros…

    Hope you are feeling better.



  4. You can add AVZ anti-viral toolkit from kaspersky in your free layer of protection list because this is portable,free and very effective between another great article Rick 🙂


  5. Akshat,

    Just last evening I was looking at this… Thank you for suggesting this app… I may do a separate article on these types of “rescue” applications.

    Thank you very much for your support AND keep up the great work with your site, as well.



  6. i forgot to mention a couple good programs that should be a part of your arsenal – threatfire and hazardshield.

    also, on of my favorite real time security apps is spyware terminator. since the new update, the program is highly configurable. highly recommend.


    1. G,

      Thank you very much… I will be making an addendum to the article (or listing) of other software that is suggested. I will definitely reflect your recommendations…

      I do appreciate you making the readers (and myself) aware of these other applications… I need to take a look at “Spyware Terminator”…



  7. I have to ditto G on Spyware Terminator and Threatfire.. good ones to consider.

    Also, for those who do desire a free software firewall — Comodo (for the more advanced) and ZoneAlarm.

    And I think a most frequently overlooked aspect of protecting your PC’s is placing a router directly behind the modem, even if you aren’t ‘splitting’ your Internet to multiple computers.

    That isn’t really “on your PC”, so my early comment still applies.


  8. Readers,

    This post, which has become quite popular, has been updated to include “recommended security software” from the “Techs” who visit the blog…

    Really good recommendations!


  9. Hey Rick,
    It’s very good you included yourself in GS of the week. I vote for you.
    Even though the post was longish, it’s worth the read!
    You should do this as routine.
    More power to WOMP!


  10. ‘Common Sense – You can not install this… I have found that if your gut says “beware”; then follow your gut. Also, I am not an advocate of social sites, porn sites, pirating sites, etc…. If it is something that violates morality; believe me, you will be victimized. “Where the people gather, the cybercriminals prey”. Please use common sense!’

    Words of wisdom!
    Only security-conscious netizens should join social sites. I suggest Secunia for safety too.


    1. Pochp,

      I really like you… I did not realize that the comment you made was a statement (quote) I made in my article. That article was an old article and I didn’t remember that. Irregardless, you made my day and gave me an idea on an article. I say no more other than, THANK YOU!



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