Ask The Readers: Recommended Security Software

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 17, 2008
Updated • Nov 29, 2012
Security, Windows software

We have been writing about great free software programs for more than three years now here at Ghacks and it is finally time to create a list of programs that we can recommend fully to anyone who is looking for a software with that functionality.

It would not be Ghacks if we would not ask you to contribute to that list. The only requirements are that the software has to be free. It does not matter if they are Open Source, freeware or donation ware. If they are free they have a chance to make it on the list.

Asking for names for any kind of software program would make it very hard for us to turn the information into a list. We have therefor decided to divide the process into different articles which will only accept programs of one specific category.

We start with security applications. This can be anything from antivirus programs to antispyware, firewall or process monitors. Yes, some applications fit in more than one category. Name them whenever they fit in so that they can be included in the list.

Please include at least the name of the application. A link to the program's website would be great and helpful as well. The results will be published at the Computer Software Recommendations article.

So come on. Let us create the best recommended software article ever.


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  1. Mike J said on March 22, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I try to keep up w/ this stuff & have tried a lot of utilities. Currently, I use Comodo FW, Avast AV, Spyware Doctor (free version), & Threatfire. I also use a variety of scanners such as Malwarebytes and a-squared; they can save your bacon if you get a trojan or something. Oh, also WinPatrol, which no one should be without. The start-up control is like a better msconfig.

  2. Bruno said on November 24, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    all the time :
    my brain! :D

    regulary :
    IE Privacy Keeper => to clean up surf sessions

    sandboxie => to surf everywhere

    eraser => to completely remove sensitive data

    vidalia bundle => to surf “anonymously”, it’s a GUI for Tor

    User agent switcher =>


  3. Todd Schnitt said on November 23, 2008 at 4:23 am

    I had been happily using the AVG $uite and it recently came time to renew. I tried out the newest version (8.0 I believe) and was disappointed to learn it has become bloatware in its own right.

    I tried Norton 2009 and yes it’s less bloated than it has ever been, but that doesn’t mean it’s not bloated. I tried several other suites and it’s all bloat, as well as bog down from way too intensive resident or surf scanning.

    I decided to go the free route and tried Comodo Suite. Didn’t like the AV portion but the firewall is rock solid. So I ended up with Comodo Firewall Pro and AVG Free AV (not the bloat of the latest suite)and so far so good.

    Also use Spybot and WinPatrol

  4. krishna said on November 20, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    1)Comodopro for firewall
    2)Avast antivirus.
    3)Ashampoo burning studio 6 for cd/dvd/blu-ray writing softwares

  5. Julian Knight said on November 19, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    TrueCrypt – my laptop is fully encrypted now & so I can worry less about loosing it with all of that valuable data.

    KeePass – Keep all of your passwords and id’s safe.

    LastPass – Just started using this. It shares ids and passwords between multiple browsers and machines. The data is sent/received/stored encrypted on a server and only decrypted in-browser. I don’t trust it enough to replace Keepass for my online banking but it has replaced FireFox and IE password stores. Really handy.

  6. Jiggles said on November 19, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Oh, yeah DropMyRights – for those who like to run as admin in XP.

  7. Jiggles said on November 19, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Some good ones not mentioned above:

    Peerguardian/Moblock with bluetack lists.

    UnHackMe – the single greatest piece of anti-crap software ever! Of the dozens of infected systems I’ve run this on, within seconds they’re clean.

    Secunia PSI

    Other than that, LINUX

  8. raakii said on November 19, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Normal: Nod32+Sandboxie
    Test: Shadowuser+AltirisSVS[Trying Comodo Diskshield BETA]
    On-Demand: Superantispyware , MBAM
    Recovery: DriveSnapshot
    Edit/Delete Message

  9. Lowlander said on November 19, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Comodo Firewall on main machine
    PC Tools Firewall on Laptop
    Both Excellent & FREE

    I do not use Anti-virus software.
    Had 1 virus about 8 years ago, since then have used
    Mailbox Dispatcher (Free)
    Delete mail directly on the server, the best weapon to avoid infection.
    An alternative is DreamMail which can also performs this function but it seems no longer supported. I still use it for 1 hidden mailbox I have.

  10. shammax said on November 18, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    some obviously don’t know the meaning of free


  11. MB1 said on November 18, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Avira Antivir Personal
    Comodo Firewall
    Malwarebyte’s Anti-Malware
    Spybot S&D
    Hijack This
    The Avenger
    Key Scramble

  12. venkat said on November 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    For antivirus
    For anti-spyware
    PC Tools Spyware Doctor Starter Edition
    For malwares and Trojans
    Malwarebytes antimalware

  13. Syber said on November 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I am using these security software with my computer now:
    Firewall: Outpost firewall
    Antivirus: NOD32
    Additional: Threatfire
    Firefox Add-on: Noscript
    ZoneAlarm ForceField

  14. Twylyte said on November 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm
  15. Bill said on November 18, 2008 at 11:00 am

    For those who have kids :)
    Returnil (I prefer this to Windows SteadyState)

  16. techandlife said on November 18, 2008 at 10:00 am
  17. ak said on November 18, 2008 at 9:30 am

    No script,Avira free,Sandboxie(i like this app a lot).
    No software firewall.Like them but have not found one that can deal with high speeds for utorrent and not eating cpu.
    For paid Norton 2009 is a pleasent surprise beeing very light but it’s too expensive,and Avira Suite or Kis2009
    And of course common sense.
    Other good free programs that i’ve tried:returnil,threatfire

  18. shamilbi said on November 18, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Comodo Firewall
    Putty (ssh client)
    ClamWin (antivirus)
    NoScript (for Firefox)
    Runscanner (search for suspicious stuff)
    xp-AntiSpy (registry stuff)
    Password Safe
    a2Free (search for suspicious stuff)
    WinPatrol (watcher)
    Starter (startup editor)

  19. g said on November 18, 2008 at 5:43 am


    Spyware Terminator


    All FREE!!

    I have a list of tried and true freeware at my website.

  20. Arp said on November 18, 2008 at 12:21 am

    +1 for the free Comodo Security Suite. otoh, I’ve never had a virus infection, so I dunno how well it works :-P

  21. ste said on November 17, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I use Comodo Internet Security and Spybot

  22. Rarst has cool feed said on November 17, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    DrWeb LiveCD
    Comodo Firewall

  23. paulo said on November 17, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I use Comodo Internet Security Suite… free edition…superb and you can’t beat the price.

  24. garbanzo said on November 17, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    well i use eset/nod32 myself, but i also have a few free tools under my belt that i find indispensable. they mostly have to do with testing new apps, since i do that a lot.

    Universal Extractor – strange to call this a security app, but it unpacks most installers, so you can see what’s actually going on inside, and you can know what files the installer wants to put where. very handy for making sure downloads are legit, and for checking out apps before installing them.

    Sandboxie – if UniExtract can’t unpack something, it gets installed in Sandboxie before i put it on my system. again, so i know what files are going where.

    both work nicely with RegFromApp by NirSoft – this shows all keys an app is writing to the registry. if run it inside Sandboxie and monitor another sandboxed process (like an installer), you know what will be written to the registry when you install/use a particular app.

    there’s a lot of freeware out there, and i don’t trust all of it. so these are my tools. along with a healthy dose of common sense :)

    before i bought eset i used winpooch and clamwin. a slow, slightly ineffectual combination, but much better than nothing!

  25. Susan said on November 17, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    ESET Smart Security hands down for all-around security product:

    NOD32 for only AV protection:

    Avira AntiVir free for those who want AV but don’t want to pay for it:

  26. Dante said on November 17, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’m not sure about resource hog issues as I tend to use the most powerful PC I can cobble together and cash is not usually an issue. So my review is based more on how safe I feel it is.

    I use ZoneAlarm for the firewall. I found this to be flexible enough for my needs and gives me more options to lock, allow, disallow pograms than Windows Firewall.

    I use Avira’s Antivir anti-virus software because it’s rated very high in detections. It is also rated very high on false positives as well. For this reason, I also run McAfee Enterprise antivirus. McAfee and Avira works together with no hangups. They both run constantly in the background.

    For spyware detection, I just use Windows Defender. It’s updated regularly enough for my needs.

  27. LethAL said on November 17, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    TinyWatcher: I no longer use an Antivirus/Antispyware, but TW just scans my system for anything new on startup. Simple, but effective. (It’s like HJT!; it tells you everything, not just the bad stuff)

    NoScript: Should be obvious.

    Common sense.

  28. Sam said on November 17, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I have two recommendations:
    PC Tools Threatfire – because it works along side traditional antivirus
    NoScript (Firefox is a given)

  29. digitalruse said on November 17, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I am surprised to say that I have given Norton Internet Security 2009 another go after an abysmal couple of years. Previous incarnations were bloated and invasive. For that reason I stuck to KIS and NOD32, but what were once simple and clean security applications had become that which they so quickly scorned.

    I am relieved to say that NIS 2009 is faster, more lightweight than any of their software I have tried in the past 6 years or so. Additionally, has managed to not screw-up any wireless drivers or be too “secure” that I couldn’t get anything done. It has a fairly intuitive interface, but you can drill down into more advanced stuff if you need to.

    I still don’t like the idea of adding more toolbars and plugins to my browser, but I can turn those off and remove them easily enough, so I won’t knock it too much for that.

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