Securing Windows for Free

Crap! This computer doesnt work! Its so damn slow!! Why the hell is it taking me to a different webpage? Why do I have a new anti-virus 2009 in my system? Why do I have so many pop-up ads selling me weird stuff? And why do I have so many security warnings coming up? – Deja Vu? Had a similar experience before? Having big time trouble with your computer? Anti-virus not helping? If your answer is Yes, worry no more! This post is here to help you out! (And dont beat me down if it doesnt! :P)

Most of the computers having Microsoft Windows XP/Vista (or earlier) without any good protection experience this trouble on a fairly common basis. So how do we make Windows secure (for free)? Read on..

The basics

There are three basic security software that we need to install (and keep upto date) in order to secure a windows box.

  1. Anti-Malware - Most of the trouble arise from rouge spyware/malware/trojans that get into the system one way or the other. There are few easy ways to figure out if you have any of these in your syst em. The tell tale signs are:
    • You get weird messages near system tray that tell you about some serious trouble & offer you to download anti-spyware / anti-virus software.

      Spyware Message

      Typical Spyware Message

    • You get pop-up windows every now and then with all kinds of messages selling you some weird stuff or warning you about infections in your system.
    • Suddenly there is an unknown Anti-Virus (by any of these names: Antivirus 2008 / Antivirus 2009 / XP-Antivirus / Antivirus-XP; which is actually a spyware) pops up and reports a lot of virus activity.
    • Your system gets real slow for no obvious reason and there is a lot of network activity.

    The easiest way to get rid of this junk is by installing an anti-spyware/anti-malware application and performing a scan. Adaware is one of the most popular anti-malware tools out there, however, the best performing tool in my opinion is Malware Bytes Anti-Malware. The free version offers passive protection and does a great job at cleaning most of the malware. Using the tool is no-brainer. You just need to – download, install and hit the scan button. And thats it!

  2. Firewall - Although Windows does have a built-in firewall but its very primitive and does not offer much protection. In my opinion, the best free Firewall application out there is ZoneAlarm. The basic version of ZoneAlarm is absolutely free and does a great job at protecting your system from various intruder/trojan/hack attacks.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               .
  3. Anti-Virus – The most common notion among many users is that anti-virus is a fire & forget solution and if there is an anti-virus installed, the system is immune to any kind of infection. WRONG! Most of the Anti-Virus software rely on a virus definition list which their respective companies keep updating as and when new vulnerabilities are discovered. Without the updated list any Anti-Virus system is useless. Therefore, make sure whatever anti-virus application you are using receives regular updates (at least once a week!). Before choosing an Anti-Virus for your system, do a brief research, read latest comparatives and check out user reviews on public forums. If you are looking for a free Anti-Virus then Avira Antivir makes a good choice. However, if you are willing to pay a small yearly subscription fees then Eset NOD32 is a decent buy.

In nutshell, your security layer should consist of these three components:

security_matrix1

Security Layers for your Windows PC

Alternate to Windows

In case you are fed up with MS Windows and want to try another Operating System, I will suggest you to give Linux a try. Linux used to be an OS meant for uber geeks. However, it has come miles ahead now and many Linux distributions are now targeted at Windows users. If you are going to try Linux for the first time, I will suggest you to go with either Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Am I completely secure now?

You are pretty secure from usual threats, common trojans & virii, irritating malware and known vulnerabilities. However, as they say, prevention is better than cure. Follow the security checklist and everything should be in your control:

  1. Keep your Operating System up to date.
  2. Always update your security software, specially your anti-virus. A security product without regular updates is almost not at all effective at preventing new threats.
  3. Use a secure browser. Most of the attacks these days are carried through loop holes in browsers. So its vital to use a browser that is more secure and provides a better user experience.

Although there is no software in this world that is 100% perfect but if you take the steps mentioned above then you will definitely find yourself in a better position.

Feel free to add more to the article by posting your comments below. Be safe, be secure! Good Luck!

5 thoughts on “Securing Windows for Free

  1. You provide good information. But the main problem is user ignorance that helps a Malware to be successful. By user ignorance I mean lack of basic information about how malware (worms, viruses, etc) works. Sometimes antiviruses become unable to detect new malwares. Because antivirus depends upon the updates, till then a virus can destroy everything. So the best thing is to set your system in such a way that I become less vulnerable.
    So First thing is – always disable autorun feature. It will project from pan drive viruses. Generally Viruses that spread using removable media put a autorun.ini file in removable media so that virus start executing while attached with the system.So by disabling autorun feature we can stop viruses from executing automatically.
    And periodically Check the following registry entries, because malwares mostly use these registry entries to run automatically when the system start-
    1.)HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
    2.)HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    3.)HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    Also always uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types” option from Folder option. So that we can identify that a folder is actually a folder or a virus that has icon just as folder’s icon.
    I have also created my own antivirus that uses such techniques to make a system secure.

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