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The best 15 free privacy downloads

Protect your PC with these free apps

Don't leave your PC exposed and vulnerable, protect it instead with these 15 free products that will save you from malicious software and eavesdroppers.

Rootkit and Malware Killers

Even the best antivirus and antispyware tools can't keep you completely safe. Rootkits often escape detection, and once they lodge on your PC, they give an outsider the power to take control of your system and help themselves to whatever private information they want. These two rootkit and malware killers, though, tip the odds in your favor.

F-Secure Blacklight Rootkit Eliminator

One dangerous type of malware that might infect your system is a rootkit. It hides deep in your system, using tricky techniques to shield itself from many antispyware, antimalware, and antivirus programs. With a rootkit in place, a malicious person can take complete control of your PC without your knowledge. Rootkits spread online in various ways, such as by riding along on another download.

Some antivirus tools, such as Avast, claim to detect and kill rootkits. Many do not. But even if you use an antivirus tool that claims to detect them, you'd do well to download, install, and use F-Secure's Blacklight Rootkit Eliminator, too. This freebie is designed exclusively to detect and kill rootkits.

The program inspects your PC's folders, files, and hidden processes for signs that you've been infected with a rootkit. It then tells you whether your system is rootkit-free or may be infected, listing every sign of infection that it found. Double-click on each listed entry, and you'll see more information, such as a description of the item, the company that made it, and its file location. You can then use Blacklight Rootkit Eliminator to quash the threat, which the program accomplishes by renaming the file and giving it a .ren extension so that it can't do any further damage. Before taking that step, though, it's a good idea to search for the file name on Google and make sure that the file is a rootkit and not some legitimate file. If your PC continues to function well after you've renamed the file, you can eventually delete the renamed files.

If you aren't an experienced PC user, you might want to stay away from this program. Renaming and deleting files can wreak havoc on a PC; so if you don't feel comfortable renaming, restoring, and deleting files and troubleshooting PCs you may be courting danger with this utility.

HijackThis

If spyware or a Trojan horse slips past your defenses despite your best efforts, your best bet is to download HijackThis. It can help detect problems that other malware detectors can't find, and then will advise you about what to do.

Unlike most other antimalware software, HijackThis doesn't automatically detect dangerous software. Instead, it looks deeply into your system's Registry and into other nooks and crannies that are likely to be infected, and then saves its results to a log file. You then post the log file to the HijackThis website for experts to examine; they take a look, let you know if your system is infected, and then tell you how to fix the problem. There are plenty of similar discussion areas where experts congregate on the internet; to find them, run a Google search.

NEXT PAGE: Browsing privacy and security

  1. Protect your PC with these free apps
  2. Password Protection
  3. Cleaning your traces
  4. Rootkit and malware killers
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