When it comes to PCs, there's a minefield of security threats out there - whether it's poisoned URLs, malware disguised as legitimate emails or simply people looking to snoop at your confidential files. However, we've got five of the best security utitlities that'll help keep you safe when using your machine. And even better... they're free!
1. Web of Trust
The web can be a dangerous place if you're not careful. One of the easiest ways to get infected or scammed is to simply browse the web without first ascertaining if the sites you visit are safe to do so.
While web browsers do have some protection built in, they tend to only target fake websites, which come and go in 24 hours. Other web sites deemed to have privacy and security issues are usually left well alone. As a result, you're left surfing the web blind, with little or no idea if the website in question can be trusted or not.
However, Web of Trust is a free browser add-on that aims to make life safer for net surfers. The tool, which is compatible with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari, rates sites, search engine results and even links in web-based email accounts like Gmail and Windows Live Hotmail green, amber or red based on their safety and security ratings
2. Click&Clean for Firefox 188.8.131.52
Your web browser stores a huge amount of personal information about you, including the sites you have visited. In many homes where computers are shared between several people, this could represent a security risk. While it is easy enough to use browser options to manually clean out these records, Click&Clean is a Firefox add-on that can be used to automate the process.
In just a few clicks, the tools enables you to wipe your browsing history, clear the list of downloaded files and much more. Click&Clean can also delete cookies and clear out cache files.
3. SafeHouse Explorer 3.01
SafeHouse Explorer is a simple but powerful encryption tool that allows you to keep your most confidential files safe from snoopers.
The program works by creating 'storage vaults'. Once you've created a vault, simply drag and drop any personal files there. Then you can browse them later in the Explorer-type interface, launch programs or view documents just as you always have - except only someone who knows the password will be able to do this. Everyone else will be locked out, and as the vault is protected with strong 256bit Twofish encryption there's very little chance of them being able to uncover your secrets.
Each of these vaults can be up to 2,000 GB. You can create as many as you need. And you can use them to protect files on local or external drives, CDs, DVDs, even USB flash drives.
4. WinMHR (beta)
WinMHR is a virus detector that checks the files on your PC against multiple antivirus tools for improved accuracy.
The program works by scanning running processes, selected files, folders or your system, and creating MD5 hashes (digital signatures) of every file it uncovers. These are then compared against Team Cymru's Malware Hash Registry, which is based on aggregating the results of more than 30 antivirus engines, and a simple report will alert you to any hits.
5. Efficient Password Manager Portable 1.66
Efficient Password Manager offers a solution to the problem of ensuring you have different and complex passwords for every online account you hold. The stores all your sensitive logon information in a single, encrypted file, which is protected by a single master password. It's this password you need to remember - giving you the ability to protect your online logon details with separate passwords without leaving you with the impossible task of remembering them all. It can even automatically generate secure passwords for you.
See also: Security software buying advice