OK, I get asked a lot about what type of software I personally would like or recommend for home use so I figured I would type up a list of security solutions that may work for you at home and rate it based on how often I get asked the question. So I do a lot of research on it as well, and that includes checking out Consumer Reports, AV-Tests, reading Life Hacker, running the applications myself to verify they are good products, running background checks on the companies, etc.
With that said, the views I have are of this blog purely and not of any organization I work for or teach at. Also what ran on my computer may have issues on your computer, because if your computer is infected or corrupted… installing any application especially a security application can cause it to act goofy.
So figure this is my count down for 2015:
1) Antivirus for Windows:
Personally, I like a couple of different ones, but one of the better not paid for Antivirus software solutions out there right now is Avira… despite Consumer Reports picking Avast, I can’t really stand behind Avast based on the findings from this article from “The Safe Mac”.
Avira is free and from Germany… it offers average threat blocking (which is what Antivirus should be about… not cleaning mind you – stop it before it gets in), is easy to use, and is not a drain on your computer’s resources. In addition, Avira historically has been really quick in responding to threats compared to other antivirus.
If you don’t mind paying for Antivirus, then you can one up Avira and all the other free Antivirus products by purchasing ESET Smart Security. In addition to the stuff Avira does, Smart Security has good threat blocking, a firewall, is easy to upgrade, but can be a little behind when responding historically to threats. In addition, ESET Smart Security also has parental controls, Spam blocking, and Anti-theft tools built into it. Smart Security costs MSRP $59.99 for one device.
If you have a lot of computers and different platforms other than Windows, ESET also offers a “Multi-Device Security” platform that will cover Windows, Mac, and Android. The two year subscription is only $149 for the Multiple Device for 5 computer + 5 android devices (that’s up to 10 devices!!)… not bad considering all you get and it may be able to protect the majority of the computers in your house.
2. Antivirus for Mac
OK, I know Antivirus is outdated… even the term Virus belongs back in the 90s with MC Hammer Pants and LL Cool J Momma Said Knock You Out Songs. However, it still is one of our best defenses… and yes I understand Mac computers really are not subject to the sheer number of attacks that Windows machines are.
However, with that said, I do believe we can a) Protect our Windows friends b) Protect ourselves especially when we run Flash, Java, Shockwave, etc. on our Mac related devices.
So my choice is Sophos, it’s free, stops threats for Mac and Windows based threats, helps to block web based malware, and the overhead of running Sophos is pretty easy on system resources. Don’t believe me… checkout Lifehacker… great minds think alike! Still going strong in 2015 according to independent tests.
Of course you can always go with ESET if you have the money and enough Windows PCs lying around… it’s just up to you as ESET Cyber Security Pro starting at $59.99 does have extra features like the ESET Fireall, Parental Controls… and again the Multidevice for Mac offers Antispam, and Antitheft to the mix.
3. Malware Protection for Windows.
By far my favorite for the last couple of years has been Malwarebytes. This is not only a great product for cleaning up your computer with (free version), it also aids in stopping bad things from infecting you in the first place if you purchase it. Well worth the money!
4. Web Browser….
I’ve lived through IE… Chrome… but I would have to say I keep going to back to Firefox. This time giving my own regard to my privacy I would say I’m probably not going back to Chrome anytime soon either – course I still use Google… as I find Duck Duck Go doesn’t really give me the search results I’m looking for when compared to Google searches.
Firefox is a longtime friend of mine, and the best thing is it is available for Linux, Mac, Android, and Windows. Hopefully, some time in the future, it will be available for Apple’s IOS as well… for iPhones, iPads, and iPods… however, it’s not there yet due to some disagreements.
Honorable mentions for other desktop browsers (haven’t really tested the Android versions… so may not be the same) you never heard of that build off of Firefox are:
However, the best part of Firefox is the add-ins and I usually use these following add-ins to harden (aka secure) my Firefox experience further:
A) AdBlock – The original Adblock is the best add-in you can get… don’t download AdBlock plus, or pro… these are pretty much scammers taking the name of a very good add-on from Michael Gundlach. This means they created the same type of application but unlike Michael, they take payment from various ad sites to allow them without your permissions. The original Adblock attempts to block everything and then if you want to allow certain ads you can make that exception.
The advantage is faster web browsing because now you don’t have to wait for ads to load, and it also limits the chances of you actually getting a drive by download from an advertisement on a web page. By far my favorite add-on, and it can be found here.
B) HTTPS Everywhere – Nice little add-on that that forces your browser to the secure version of HTTP every time you visit a page that supports HTTPS. Remember S is for security and that means that the communication between the webpage and your computer is encrypted. However, that doesn’t mean you’re safe if you’re using HTTPS and you’re on Wi-Fi.
C) NoScript – Great little app that allows you to perform an implicit deny on all java scripts. That means when you visit websites you’ll need to figure out what to add after, however it’s a good thing because a lot of drive by downloads (or bad things that can install a lot of bad software in seconds by clicking on the wrong link) can be stopped this way. Malware installs randomly off of ads even on legitimate sites, so it’s worth the time to figure this one out.
I recommend watching a video that shows you how to utilize this powerful tool that is available for Chrome and Firefox before using it because it will stop your browser from working until you figure out what to allow and what not to allow on different sites. If nothing else… just simply use another browser to access the sites or select the “Temporarily allow all on this page” until you figure it out.
5. Android and iOS Security…
A) Android – I really like Sophos Mobile Security… it works well and has high ratings for a free antivirus. Pick-it up in either the Google Play store.
B) iOS – Lookout Mobile Security… runs great and is also available for android… an American based company that actually includes a flare that is sent up when you battery is low on your device to signal the last location your device was at (so you can find it easier).
It will notify you if things look strange in regard to processes running on your phone as well.
Windows – Don’t need to install one… one of the most sophisticated firewalls available is in Windows Vista on up.
Mac & Pop Distro Linux users– Please enable your firewall at the very least! It comes disabled by default… ya I heard the argument that you don’t need to enable it by default, but still it’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides users don’t stay with default applications that come installed on an OS… so it just helps the total security of the Operating System as people start to pile on software.
I would pretty much stay with default application firewall for now unless you have a paid for solution like NOD… but I would have to admit I do like Little Snitch for Mac OSX as an added layer of defense. Just like with NoScript I recommend watching a tutorial on how to use Little Snitch first as the user can block legitimate traffic if they are not careful (thus rendering your computer useless).