11+ Computer Security Apps to Keep Your Freelancing Business Safe

computer-securityAs a freelance professional, you depend on your computer for your livelihood. More than any other kind of computer user, you need to make sure that that computer (and the information on it) is safe and secure.

Unfortunately, in the online world where most of us do our work there are a few threats to our livelihood. I’m talking about those threats that come in the form of computer viruses and malware, which we might download automatically from a site or through an email attachment.

If you’re working on a machine with an MS Windows or Vista operating system, that threat is particularly likely. Depending on how active you are online, it may not be a question of whether you’ll ever encounter computer malware, but rather, a question of when.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of software available to protect your computer, and your livelihood. In this post, I list eleven of the most popular antivirus packages and provide a brief description of each. Many of these packages also include a free version, a trial version, or other free services. Although, to get maximum protection you’ll want to purchase a full application.


Eleven Computer Security Apps

Here are eleven companies (listed in alphabetical order) that offer computer security applications to help protect your computer.

  • AVAST–Avast provides an easy-to-use application that works well. Some reviewers report that it slows performance.
  • AVG–AVG is considered a good security option by most reviewers, although many report that the anti-phishing capabilities are weak. (Phishing applications are programs that try to capture your personal information) The company also offers free identity-theft recovery help.
  • ESET–ESET claims to be able to detect threats before other computer security packages. Includes the ESET Threat Center, which provides information about malware and other threats.
  • F-Secure–The F-Secure site offers free health check and online scanner tools. The company has been in business for twenty years.
  • G Data–Some reviewers complained about the amount of system resources that the G Data suite used. Although not well known the package is comparable to others on the market.
  • Kaspersky–The application from an industry leader is a full-featured security suite. Some reviewers complained that the package is difficult to use. The site offers a free antivirus scan.
  • McAfee–This well-known company does a good job of protecting your PC against the traditional types of malware. According to reviewers, it did not do quite as well with non-traditional, non-signature based malware.
  • Norton–This is a very highly regarded internet security company with a variety of programs.
  • Vipre–Their popular anti-malware package includes a firewall. The application uses a relatively small amount of RAM. However, some reviewers have commented that the protection against phishing schemes is weak.
  • Webroot–Webroot offers internet security or corporate security products. Some reviewers reported a system slowdown.
  • ZoneAlarm–Internet security package offers good basic features.

Even If You Have a Mac…

While you may feel that your machine is relative secure (and it probably is), there’s still the possibility that you could unknowingly pass a virus along through an email. And, if there’s anything worse than getting a virus, it’s passing one along to a client or colleague.

Fortunately, there are a few internet security packages available for the Mac:

  1. Intego–According to the reviewers, this package is very effective, although the reporting features could be better.
  2. Norton–Reviewers loved this package.

It Happened to Me

A few weeks ago, I accidentally downloaded a computer virus through an email attachment. With my workload, the results could have been devastating.

Fortunately, my antivirus program caught it and neutralized it before any damage could be done. I was lucky.

Your Turn

Have you been impacted by a computer virus? What is your favorite internet security package?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Don Hankins

Comments

  1. says

    I think cyber attacks and such, like the recent one on wordpress and zencart sites etc.. are the ones that freelancers have little control over for their clients website. It is vital for freelancers to inform their clients that they are not held liable for any damages arising from such attacks and this should be in their contract and release form before making their site go live. What most freelancers forget to do is to safeguard their business when all fingers point at them. With proper legal contract they can do this.

  2. says

    Or you can just use tools widely available on the net in regards to pro-actively testing any web application you have control over. Keeping up to date on security vulnerabilities for popular CMS systems like WordPress and Drupal will help keep the application up to date and free from security vulnerabilities. And of course if you want to get really thorough with your analysis applications such as nessus, backtrack are great tools.

  3. says

    I had AVG installed and caught that wordpress trojan. Kaspersky was better in catching threats, but my machine was moving snail slow. I had to compromise stability and speed to be protected. When Kaspersky “occupied” 95% from the CPU I just uninstalled it. Can’t afford to not be able to work at all.

    In many cases, even if you’re browsing safely (not going to “some” sites), you can still be attacked. Best option is to still have a good security program and many backups :D

  4. says

    Fortunately, there is a wide variety of software available to protect your computer, and your livelihood. In this post, I list eleven of the most popular antivirus packages and provide a brief description of each. Many of these packages also include a free version, a trial version, or other free services. Although, to get maximum protection you’ll want to purchase a full application.
    +1

  5. says

    I took the title totally differently! My freelance security is keepass + truecrypt + dropbox. Everything safe, secure and encrypted off in the cloud and available on any of the three computers I might need to work on.

  6. says

    Personally, I love ESET. It has saved my computer’s bum a bunch of times.

    Combine a backup program, like Dropbox, and a great anti-virus, and you’re computer will be ready for most attacks.

  7. Allan says

    Hmm slightly narrow article here so I’ll add some important info.

    The programs listed will only protect you to some extent – to step up your protection I’d strongly suggest :

    (ALL ARE FREE TO USE)

    **Avira / AVAST
    **Malwarebytes Anti Malware (Everyone should have this,picks up stuff that my licensed Kapersky 2010 doesnt)
    **Microsoft Security Essentials
    **Trusteer (Supported by Natwest Bank, but can be configured to protect any website login credentials you want)

    UAC turned ON in Windows vista/7.

    Been running this combination for over 6 years and never ever had any stolen accounts etc / Keyloggers – or any problems.

    You should always be behind a router & always have backups’s of your computer C:\ Drive & Work folders (I;d suggest Acronis TrueImage) + Use Dropbox or similar for your work files.

    -Allan

  8. says

    It only takes once to have your computer comprised with devastating results, to see that the best defense against these, and other types of attacks is a layered structure. This may be paranoid / over kill for Windows but lets me sleep better at night:

    1. A spare laptop running Linux Shorewall firewall for packet filtering.
    2. Comodo software firewall.
    3. Scan for anti virus with AVG weekly
    4. Use Malware-bytes, IObit Security, Spybot Search and Destroy, HijackThis
    5. Mark Russinovich Windows Sysinternals Utilities for audits and diagnosis.

    Other Operating System – Ubuntu SELinux. By default, no security holes or problems. One of my favorite classes in college was Computer Security. Good times realizing exactly how vulnerable networks and operating systems really are!

  9. says

    This is a useful article, especially considering how often computer security gets overlooked. Whilst there are many anti-virus and security programs available, it is certainly good to have a comprehensive list such as this.

    I’d definitely agree that if you’re working on a Windows machine the need for a good anti-virus program is especially important. Opening a single infected email could cause havoc for your system, so having appropriate protection is a must.

    It’s interesting to note that Mac anti-virus software listed here, as this rarely gets a mention. I’d like to see what other users think about the software choice here and if they are any better alternatives.

  10. says

    I’m a happy Linux user so I feel no pain when any popular Windows-based threat tries to reach my computer. Of course, there are few issues that could rise a risk in my system, but they are way less than the usual ones for the MS user.

    Anyway my mother’s an accountant and she has some annoying virus for the last month that none of the antivirus products was able to find. There are few processes running foreground & background that the AVs and antispyware apps (nor hijacks etc) could remove. It is not data removal threat but it stops the internet connection regularly which is crucial when filling long online forms with no ‘save’ function and you need to reboot your PC to fix it.

  11. says

    I vote AVG as well – have been using it for years, and it has never given me a problem. It used to be a little slow but they fixed that in V9, now it has everything I need! Thanks AVG ;)

  12. says

    @Duncan — Can you say any more about that combo you use? I’m using dropbox but haven’t heard of the other two programs/companies. Must research…very interested.

    @Allan — agree with you regarding malwarebytes, but I run that along with Spybot Search + Destroy, which ALWAYS nabs some nasties for me.

    I run Avast and I’m concerned about the performance issues mentioned. The trade-off, however, is that I’ve NEVER had a virus, trojan, etc., infect any of the computers on my home network since I started using avast. It neutralizes a ton of them as I’m working some days, but it’s been like a brick wall.

    I know AVG is probably most popular free solution out there, but avast is solid. I install it on every client computer I work on. I think the trade-off may be worth it.

  13. says

    I’ve been using avast for years and I swear by it. The only time I see any sort of performance problems are at start up, but I can sacrifice a few more minutes of my time knowing that avast is protecting my system.

    In the time I’ve used avast I have never been infected and the few times a site tried to infect me avast quickly caught it. It’s nice to see someone else mention this app since so few people I talk to seem to know about.

  14. David says

    Layered security is a great approach to help overcome any weak areas of one particular solution. I do the following as well as an anti-virus and anti-malware solution.

    I use a hosts file maintained by Microsoft Networking MVPs (site: http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm) to add a zero-cost layer of additional filtering to all of my online work. This makes webpages load faster (no waiting on third-party ad sites) and is not as detectable as AdBlock.

    If there is a specific host who you do want to see ads from you can always comment out that line int eh hosts file. Results take effect immediately.

    Anti-virus is Microsoft Security Essential and anti-malware is from malwarebytes.org. I also completely agree with Duncan…keepass + truecrypt + dropbox is a great combo.

  15. David says

    @Damian – TrueCrypt is a data encryption tool that lets you build containers that serve as separate drives (think of each container as a portable drive) that you can mount/unmount as you need them. you can password protect or secure with a hash key, which is where keypass comes along to synchronize the keys/hashes.

    I also use the hosts file from the Microsoft network MVP group as an extra layer of defense (passive, zero cost) to filter most well known malware sites and most ad sites as well. That might be heresy if your only revenue is ad-based…but I like it and use it on all of my systems. Site: http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm .

    Since I didn’t see any anti-malware listed I recommend MalwareBytes from the company of the same name. Site: http://www.malwarebytes.org/products.php .

  16. says

    hello everybody i wanted to share my experience on getting virus free.

    when i was a pc user i found out several strategies to stay virus free

    - do not use limewire and that kind of website “free” download stuff, neither torrents
    - use gmail as your mail client, its spam filter is great
    - do not open powerpoint stuff that friends sent as fws
    - do not share usb memory sticks

    Recommended software

    - Avira http://www.free-av.com/
    - HiJackThis http://free.antivirus.com/hijackthis/
    - Windows Defender ( its free i dont know if theres any upgrade or if it change its name)

    NOT Recommended Software

    - norton (or any symantec software) its the worst antivirus program, eats your ram! and your pc gets slower and slower everyday!

    Note:

    - keep checking your /system32/ folder every week, there is were malware and spyware hosts most of the time

    I switched to mac back in October 2009, i just forgot what an antivirus is, i am malware, spyware free!

  17. says

    Yeah I switched to Mac in 2007, no way would I touch a PC again (unless testing a site in IE). My question is how much of an hindrance on productivity is updating virus software constantly?

  18. John R. says

    I have been using Panda Cloud Antivirus for the last few months. I have not had any issues and it appears to be doing a good job.

  19. alex says

    I have 2 pcs and i use following security-setup:
    - zonealarm: to control what programs can access internet
    - clamwin: to scan files manually (and downloads via firefox plugin)
    - truecrypt: encrypt files

    and most importantly:
    - my brain

    i absolutely dont recommend installing one of the “big” security packages like mcafee or norton or anything like them, they only slow your computer down.
    I never have viruses or spyware. Why? because i think before i click, its that simple.
    Most computer users only get spyware and viruses, because they click and open everything they receive, and about macs: wait till’ the market share gets over 50-60% and you’ll see how more secure they really are ;-)

  20. says

    Use Linux and forget about viruses and other malware.
    I use Arch Linux. Believe me, Linux is best for developers because of the tools available. Installing an application is very easy- just issue one command and the software is installed.

  21. says

    @Nilesh & other Linux / Mac users

    Sure using Linux you are safer from malware etc, but this does not stop web-based threats and phishing sites from stealing your personal / banking details – something LinkScanner from AVG helps to prevent – unfortunately for us poor users, online security has come away from viruses and installable threats to much more hidden, devious means of attack – and any browser is vulnerable to these… just my 2c.

    J

  22. says

    @Jamie,

    I agree with you for that, but the threat is less on Linux due to lack of Trojans and Spyware on the system (if you install addons from untrusted sources, then still you can be …).

    I’d like to add a tip to all freelancers. Use OpenDNS. OpenDNS keeps track of all phishing sites so you will be saved from phishing.

  23. says

    @ CG, my friend, a programmer, uses Avira and likes it a lot.

    As for me I use Avast + Zone Alarm. Kaspersky is also known for slowing down the system and that was the reason why I stopped using it.

    My brother is great at computers and he uses also an utility called AVZ which is created by a developer from Kaspersky.

  24. says

    Hi,

    am confusing with this article, why don’t you suggest top security software for desktop. here you are explained about all security software. But which is the better anti virus or security software compare o all this security software’s.

    Why am asking this question means, how can i select the best software for secure my PC from internet hackers.

  25. says

    Hi all,
    Thanks for list of top secure and safe anti virus, I’m currently using ESET its really works well.. It doesn’t make your computer slow………….

  26. Dee says

    I use Avast anti-virus, and I am very happy with it. It’s caught several things, plus it’s really easy to schedule a boot-time scan every so often to make sure I don’t have any nasties hidden on my system.

    I also use Spybot Search & Destroy and SuperAntiSpyware to scan for spyware, and ZoneAlarm’s free firewall.

    Also, while this isn’t necessarily security related, I also scan my system with CCleaner (which is an excellent utility that every Windows user should install, IMO) regularly, defrag my hard drives every month or two, and make sure my C: drive is always less than 70% full. A lot of times people will think they have spyware or a virus because they are having performance issues, when their machine is actually in dire need of some basic maintenance or they have a program installed that’s hogging their system.

  27. says

    I guess freelancers should be quite careful with such kind of web attacks many apps have now been developed so as to protect from Mal ware,spy ware, virus etc Not only the above listed apps but there thousands of apps that are available free on internet . Free ware by every firm should be developed so as to protect freelancers. good post keep on updating more apps for free lancers.

  28. says

    This is a great reference, and something that i totally hope works, We’ve used enough time to do the primary set from the list even so 2rss doesn’t makes it possible for me to sign up; it is constantly informing us that it won’t be able to link…

  29. says

    Comodo ISP is my favorite and I’m using it right now. Caught “Parite B” virus which is hard to kill and is ruining every exe on the discs after boot. While reading some reviews, I’ve installed the Comodo, caught the virus! No problems with viruses from then.

    I’ve had bad experiences with NOD 32 and Norton. The first one misses most of the viruses when scanning, the same goes for Norton + slow performance + big and useless.
    Didn’t caught the specified polymorphic virus, missed it and my exes gone…

  30. danu@soft says

    Good post and nice review…This article full of interesting information. Very helpful for those who are looking for the best antivirus. My AVG users, I am pleased with its performance. Well able to keep your PC and remove various viruses.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Software–The software that you need to work will vary widely depending on what your field is. At a minimum, you will need some sort of email system. You will probably also want something like Microsoft Office or something similar. You may also need specialized software for your field such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe FrameMaker. Don’t forget to include an antivirus software package. [...]

  2. [...] Software–The software that you need to work will vary widely depending on what your field is. At a minimum, you will need some sort of email system. You will probably also want something like Microsoft Office or something similar. You may also need specialized software for your field such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe FrameMaker. Don’t forget to include an antivirus software package. [...]

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