Just a few years ago, having a firewall meant you were better protected than most, functioning at the high-end of the spectrum of users. Antivirus was common but not ubiquitous. These two, used in combination were the de facto security platform for home users and businesses. Since Windows XP, the firewall was brought down from the network level and integrated into the desktop. Windows XP Service Pack 1 gave us an operating system with a firewall turned on by default. Over the years, that built-in firewall has proven itself to be useful but not as effective, feature-rich, or as configurable as third-party products or business class appliances. No longer does the common man have to pay big bucks or edify himself to the level of a techno-demigod to bring home quality in-depth protection for his home.
Download Free Internet Security
Security products have evolved beyond merely providing malware analysis, quarantining, with real-time protection. Today, the top-notch products offer you a firewall configurable to the level of a small-business grade appliance, host-based protection that protects and monitors changes to core system files giving you the option to permit those changes or deny them as they occur, real-time traffic monitoring, rules based on heuristic packet analysis, application and IP blacklisting, and lots of logging. With all of these features you’d think there’d be a licensing fee with a subscription fee for updates as with some of the big name anti-virus vendors. You get all of these premium features for free from two exceptional programs:
Comodo’s “Internet Security PREMIUM”, found here (Official Website ) and
Agnitum’s “Outpost Security Suite FREE”.
These products are very similar in the quality and diversity of features offered to the user. The main differences between the features of these two products are Comodo has an application sandbox and Agnitum has web monitoring and anti-spam. On a personal note, I love them and use them both, and these are my first recommendations to clients, friends, or family who want premium protection without nagging subscription pop-ups or persistent authorization dialogue boxes every two minutes.
Novice end-users will appreciate the easiness of installation and how very little attention is required to get these up and running. Although the previous versions of these products have been a bit more visually-noisey than desired, the latest iterations have updated whitelist/blacklist application databases to know by default which executables/files are safe and which require user authorization. There will be a few mouse-clicks necessary to authorize your network and internet activity for games and your web-browser. However, Comodo and Outpost have rule-sets to deal with different types of applications, to lessen the intervention required by the user. Advanced users will fall in love with the granularity of controls awaiting them in the preferences and configurations tabs, enabling them to harden their systems in ways similar to corporations who are preparing for security inspections.
The Best Internet Security Suites
Outpost Security Suite and Comodo Internet Security are my favorite anti-malware-firewall-with-host-intrusion-protection applications, but they aren’t the only noteworthy products that should be on your radar. You can find a comparison and evaluation of the most popular and effective security applications on the (Matousec.com Website ). Currently Comodo is ranked #1, a position once held by Agnitum, which now ranks #4 and #5 for its Outpost Security Suite FREE and Outpost Security Suite PRO products, respectively. Be sure to read the section entitled “Interpretation of Results” for insight into their testing and evaluation methodology.
End Notes: You can supplement Agnitum’s lack of a sandbox by grabbing Sandboxie (Official Website ) which allows any program such as, web browsers, email client, officeware, keygenerators, crack files, small media files, etc. to run on your computer but protects it from any potential negative or positive changes. Sandboxie works on Windows XP, Vista, and 7 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
Take the next step: Advanced Personal Computer and Home Network Security
Windows CleanUp! is a privacy cleaner that is easy to use and can remove information about your Internet activity, while also deleting many types of junk files that take up unnecessary space on your hard drive. Windows Cleanup! has different levels of cleaning based on your preferences and needs. Windows Cleanup! can thoroughly remove all personal references, Internet Explorer favorites, and other information. It can eliminate all deleted files so they cannot be recovered. If you are concerned with protecting your privacy, turn to Windows CleanUp!
Article: Think Before You Click to Avoid Viruses and Scams – Read PC World article
If you have a wireless internet connection in your home, you should check out our section on how to secure your wireless network for detailed instructions and advice on data encryption and wireless router security.