Best free security software
Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Free
When Microsoft added a Security Center to XP with Service Pack 2, it made a huge difference to how safe users felt. Prior to this, XP seemed vulnerable to all sorts of viruses and exploits.
That said, a third-party antivirus application is a must. You shouldn’t consider using the internet or email without being protected. It’s vital that your antivirus is up to date.
Even the lowest-cost PCs tend to come with an antivirus program, even if it’s just a 30-day trial of a well-known brand such as Norton or McAfee. ZoneAlarm is another good option. It quarantines suspicious programs and is customisable.
Get Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Free here
Spybot Search & Destroy 1.4
Spybot is a long-standing favourite of PC Advisor’s and, until commercial applications designed to ferret out the most deep-seated of keystroke loggers and other snoops came along, was our first port of call to check we weren’t being monitored.
Spybot tracks down items that have installed themselves on your PC behind your back with the express intention of telling tales to whoever sent them. It sends them packing.
Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition
Advertising messages that appear whenever you surf the web are annoying, but what you may not know is that they can be dangerous. Malicious software often hides behind what seems nothing more harmful than advertising, so be careful what you click on.
Ad-Aware alerts you to any adware that’s tracking what you do and the sites you surf. It may not send your personal details to someone keen to exploit them, but adware certainly compromises your privacy.
PC Tools Firewall Plus 2.0
Vista users get a two-way firewall to prevent both incoming and outgoing nasties. XP’s firewall monitors only outbound data. We’ve included PC Tools’ Firewall Plus on our cover DVD to ensure you don’t go near the web before covering your back.