Home > Computer > 15 Great, Free Security Programs

15 Great, Free Security Programs

Turn your PC on, and you’re immediately vulnerable to malicious attacks. But you can use these free applications to minimize the dangers and protect yourself.

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Part 1 of a special five-part series.

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Preston Gralla

Monday, July 02, 2007 3:00 PM PDT

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Covering Your Tracks and Cleaning Up

Encrypting private information, disabling potentially harmful scripts, and cleaning up accumulated detritus are all ways to strengthen your security. These downloads help you keep things safe and orderly.

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Kruptos 2
Worried that someone may gain access to your most private files? Kruptos 2 uses powerful, 128-bit encryption to scramble files and folders so that only you can read them. It’s particularly useful for USB flash drives and portable storage devices, which you can encrypt in the entirety. Kruptos 2 also lets you create self-extracting, encrypted archives; shred deleted files so that all traces of them vanish from your hard disk; and even disguise the filename when you encrypt a file.
Download Kruptos 2

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Transaction Guard
This freebie from commercial security vendor Trend Micro is actually two pieces of security software in one. First, it’s a spyware detector and eradicator that monitors your system in real-time for spyware and kills any it finds. Second, it introduces a “secret keyboard” to ensure that passwords and other sensitive information aren’t stolen over the Internet. When you visit a site that asks for a password, instead of typing in the password, you enter it on the secret keyboard, which copies the password to the clipboard, from which it gets pasted directly into a Web form. The software runs as an ActiveX control in the System Tray.
Download Transaction Guard

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CCleaner
When you surf the Web, you pick up many traces of your Internet activity. Your PC swells up with temporary Internet files, a history list, cookies, autocomplete entries, and lots more. In addition, programs create temporary files, file lists, and other bits of effluvia. Windows itself constantly monitors what you do, and records information about it in logs. In fact, a snoop could easily gather a great deal of information about you from stuff that’s junking up your PC. CCleaner rids your system of all such traces. Not only does it enhance your privacy, but you’ll regain hard disk space as well. When I used this utility for the first time, it deleted a whopping 835MB of files.
Download CCleaner

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NoScript
Among the biggest dangers you face when surfing the Web are boobytrapped Java and JavaScript scripts and applets. Evil doers can disguise these harmful pieces of code as useful tools, or can hide them completely while they perform their nasty routines. Unfortunately, there’s no practical way for you to separate the good ones from the bad ones. But NoScript, a free Firefox extension, prevents all JavaScript and Java applets from running, except on sites that you designate as safe. The extension presents you with a list of safe sites, which you can add to. NoScript tells you when it has blocked Java or JavaScript on a site. For added protection, this remarkably powerful and flexible tool also blocks Java, Flash, and other plug-ins on sites you don’t trust.
Download NoScript

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File Shredder 2
Delete a file and it’s gone from your PC, right? Wrong. Even after you delete a file and flush it from your Recycle Bin, special software can re-create it. Of course, in general, you’d like files to stay deleted when you throw them away. File Shredder 2 overwrites any file or folder with a random string of binary data–multiple times. You have a choice of five different shredding algorithms, and using the program is a breeze: Just choose your files, tell the program to shred them, and they’ll be gone forever.
Download File Shredder 2

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