When you surf the web, you're open to all sorts of privacy invasion from websites logging where you've been to keyloggers capturing your keystrokes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We've rounded up the 15 best free downloads that can protect you. From firewalls and password protectors to rootkit killers, trace cleaners, anonymity securers, and more.
A firewall is one of the most basic pieces of software you can get for protecting your privacy. Any decent firewall shields you from inbound snoopers, and the better ones also prevent sneaky software from sitting invisibly on your PC and making outbound connections to tell others about your activities.
Comodo Firewall Pro
If you have Windows XP or Windows Vista, you have a firewall on your PC courtesy of Microsoft, so you may figure that you're perfectly safe. Wrong - the firewalls built into both of those operating systems have problems. The Windows XP firewall, for example, lacks outbound protection. And the Windows Vista firewall is exceedingly difficult to customise.
A great bet for a truly flameproof firewall is the free Comodo Firewall. It offers great protection against both inbound and outbound threats, along with some very nice extras. Its Defense+ feature, for example, locks down particularly vulnerable files and folders so that nothing can alter them.
If you use this firewall, you will have to spend a bit of time training it. Whenever an application tries to access the internet from your PC, you'll get a pop-up that asks you whether you want to allow the application to proceed. If you'd like to cut down on the training time and the number of interruptions, use the program's Clean PC mode. In this mode, Comodo scans your PC for applications and registers them as safe. Afterward, you won't see as many alerts.
Among Comodo's other nice extras is an install mode that shuts off the firewall for 15 minutes, so you can install a new application without getting inundated with alerts.
Vista Firewall Control
Windows Vista's firewall is better than the one built into Windows XP because it includes outbound protection as well as inbound protection. Outbound protection is vital, because Trojan horses and spyware often use silent outbound connections to do their damage. In addition, some surreptitious software uses invisible outbound connection from your PC to send out spam or malware without your knowing it.
The Windows Vista firewall has one big problem, though: the outbound firewall is almost impossible to configure. The free Vista Firewall Control utility gives you the control that Vista should have. With it, whenever a program attempts to make an outbound connection, an alert appears, identifying the application's path and file name, the publisher's name, and the application's name. Based on what you see, you can then choose to enable or disable the connection permanently or one time only.
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