What is Computer Security?
Computer security, also known as cybersecurity or IT security, is the protection of information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, the software, and to the information on them, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. It includes controlling physical access to the hardware, as well as protecting against harm that may come via network access, data and code injection, and due to malpractice by operators, whether intentional, accidental, or due to them being tricked into deviating from secure procedures.
What are the concerns of computer security?
Computer Security is concerned with four main areas:
1. Confidentiality: Only authorized users can access the data resources and information.
2. Integrity: Only authorized users should be able to modify the data when needed.
3. Availability: Data should be available to users when needed.
4. Authentication: are you really communicating with whom you think you are communicating with.
Why is computer security important?
Prevention of data theft such as bank account numbers, credit card information, passwords, work related documents or sheets, etc. is essential. Especially in today’s communications since many of our day to day actions depend on the security of the data paths.
Data present in a computer can also be misused by unauthorized intrusions. An intruder can modify and change the program source codes and can also use your pictures or email accounts to create derogatory content such as pornographic images, fake misleading and offensive social accounts.
Malicious intents can also be a factor in computer security. Intruders often use your computers for attacking other computers or websites or networks for creating havoc. Vengeful hackers might crash someone’s computer system to create data loss. DDOS attacks can be made to prevent access to websites by crashing the server.
Above factors imply that your data should remain safe and confidential. Therefore, it is necessary to protect your computer and hence the need for Computer Security arises.
Best Computer Security and Antivirus Tools
Malware is on the rise. And phishing attacks. And ransomware, identify theft, data breaches, and much more. Not only are cybersecurity attacks and vulnerabilities on the rise, but their impact also costs more, takes longer to recover from, and can be extremely damaging.
It’s high time for you to consider your system security. There are so many anti-this and anti-that programs out there. Here we’ll show you the software and tools we use to secure our own computers.
The Best Antivirus Software
Every Windows device should have an antivirus suite installed. Windows Defender Security Center is the default Windows 10 antivirus. To be fair to Microsoft, Windows Defender is more effective than ever. It isn’t the best, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch. Otherwise, you need to check out one of the paid or free antivirus options below.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019
Bitdefender products constantly feature at the top of “best of” antivirus and security application lists. And for a good reason. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 builds on 2018’s excellent offering and offers some of the most comprehensive protection.
The comprehensive protection keeps you safe from a huge range of vulnerabilities and attack vectors. The 2019 iteration introduces updates to ransomware protection, placing a “remediation layer” over your videos, pictures, and documents that stop ransomware attacks destroying your data.
Another useful addition is the updated Network Threat Prevention which uses a network-based layer of protection to stop attackers exploiting vulnerabilities in your system before they even get started.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 retails for $49.99 for a single year’s license.
Kaspersky Total Security is an excellent security product for home users. Like Bitdefender, Kaspersky Total Security consistently features at the top of “best of” lists. In fact, the Cryptomalware Protection system is one of the best consumer ransomware protection products (as part of a suite).
Better still, Kaspersky registers fewer false positives than almost every other antivirus suite.
Kaspersky Total Security is also a great choice for those looking for parental control. You can control and manage your children’s device profiles all through your Kaspersky Total Security suite, blocking and controlling access to websites in 14 different categories as well as setting device online time limits.
Kaspersky Total Security retails for $99.99 for a single year’s license.
Webroot Antivirus Security
Webroot Antivirus is one of the smallest antivirus programs, faster than its competition and consistently clocking in ahead of Trend Micro, Norton, Kaspersky, and the rest. Also, it’s tiny. The Webroot installation directory takes up just 15MB, compared to an average of 500MB for its competitors.
Size doesn’t matter, though. It is what you scan with it. And Webroot continues to pack a serious amount of system protection into its tiny package. Webroot Antivirus Security is the basic package, offering additional identity theft protection, webcam protection, banking, and phishing protection, as well as excellent customer support.
Another plus for Webroot Antivirus Security is how nicely it plays with older systems with limited resources. If you’re running an older machine but still want comprehensive protection, give Webroot a try.
Webroot Antivirus Security retails for $39.99 for a single year’s license for a single device.
The Best Anti-Malware Software
Windows Firewall is an excellent choice, as you’ll see below. But if you want some additional functionality, then we’ve offered some other options you can check out.
There is one program that you’ll find on almost every single anti-malware list: Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes for Windows (formerly Malwarebytes Anti-Malware) is one of the grandfathers of modern system security. It is well respected, constantly updated, and has excellent detection and removal rates.
Malwarebytes comes in two flavors: Free or Premium. The major difference between the two is live system scanning. Malwarebytes Premium actively scans and protects your system, while the Free version is for remediation only. If you’re looking to build a robust defense barrier, Malwarebytes Premium is an excellent choice.
Malwarebytes Premium currently retails for $39.99 for single year’s license.
If you don’t like Malwarebytes, I would advise giving Zemana AntiMalware a try. Like Malwarebytes, Zemana comes in Free and Premium flavors. The Free version features a pretty fast system scan (system dependent, of course, but it seems to be consistently speedy), the choice of either Smart or Deep scanning, and will attack advanced threats like bootkits and rootkits.
If you want full system real-time protection, you’ll need the Premium version. Zemana Premium features additional protection modules for ransomware, zero-day exploits, and more. If you find a particularly difficult to remove malware variant, Zemana engineers are on call 24/7 to offer advice. In fact, they have been known to remote connect to a compromised system to manually remove an infection.
Zemana Premium currently retails for $29.95 for a single year’s license.
Your final anti-malware program for consideration is HitmanPro.Alert.
HitmanPro is a “secondary antivirus scanner.” That means it works alongside your existing antivirus to catch and remove anything that slips through the net. And HitmanPro is really good at doing just that.
I use HitmanPro every time someone gives me an infected laptop. After scanning with an antivirus program, then an antimalware program, HitmanPro catches anything lurking in the dark corners of the system.
It is powerful, has an extremely easy-to-use interface, and is lightweight. HitmanPro.Alert is the premium version. As well as offering real-time protection, ransomware protection, and banking protection, HitmanPro.Alert has a particularly good success rate regarding bootkits and rootkits when compared to its competitors. These represent some of the nastier infections in the current malware landscape and HitmanPro.Alert is one of the best preventative tools available.
HitmanPro.Alert currently retails for $34.95 for a single year’s license.
The Best Anti-Ransomware Software
Along with antivirus and anti-malware programs, specialized anti-ransomware programs play an increasingly important role in system protection. The majority of antivirus and anti-malware suites now feature some form of integrated anti-ransomware protection.
However, specialized anti-ransomware tools update faster, cover broader ransomware definitions, and offer another layer of protection in a multi-layer security solution that doesn’t interfere with your existing programs.
CyberSight RansomStopper is a new addition to this list. It is well worth your time, effectively stopping some of the worst ransomware variants, such as the notorious Petya, WannaCry, Locky, and Cerber amongst others.
RansomStopper keeps track on ransomware by placing a series of “smart traps” throughout your system. The traps are honeypots that sucker the ransomware in before RansomStopper alerts the rest of the system as to what is going on. The anti-ransomware tool uses a machine learning algorithm to ensure “automated and continuous learning” about the latest threats.
One slight downside is that the free version of CyberSight RansomStopper doesn’t protect your Master Boot Record (MBR), which some ransomware variants target specifically. However, there’s a chance your antivirus and antimalware cover that gap. But double check with your programs rather than assuming.
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware BETA
The Malwarebytes name is synonymous with security. Many of the extensive list of Malwarebytes for Windows features start life as beta testing products—anti-ransomware is just the latest step. Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware specifically monitors your system for known ransomware activity, blocking infections and quarantining infected files before system files are encrypted.
Note: Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware BETA is not designed to run alongside Malwarebytes free 3.x and onwards. You should not run the tools alongside one another because they use similar resources, causing a clash. The anti-ransomware tool is fully integrated into Malwarebytes Premium 3.x and onwards, offering the best all-round protection.
Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool
Kaspersky also has a vested interest in stopping ransomware. The Kaspersky antivirus suite is excellent. But their Anti-Ransomware tool adds a layer of security that puts many other options to shame. Kaspersky Lab is well known for its active approach to ransomware. Along with this free anti-ransomware tool, Kaspersky also develops and release ransomware decryption tools where possible.
As with Malwarebytes, you don’t need the main security suite to secure your system against ransomware better.
The Best Firewall Software
Consumer firewalls have become somewhat unfashionable. They don’t have the same cutting-edge, search and obliterate characteristics of antivirus and antimalware programs. They do, however, perform an incredibly important role in computer security. And it is usually one that you are not aware of—until your firewall fails, and you’re scrambling for a security solution.
You don’t need anything but the integrated Windows Firewall. A firewall essentially opens and closes ports. The Windows Firewall does exactly this, lets you create rules, control which ports are in use and, best of all, leaks very little information to the outside world.
Windows security products took a bit of a bashing throughout the late 90s and 2000s. But the integrated Windows Firewall is consistent, uses very few resources, and is extremely easy to configure. Plus, there are numerous tutorials on configurations for almost any program. If you have a problem, there is a strong chance someone else has already encountered it, solved it, and posted their results on the internet.
ZoneAlarm remains one of the best free alternatives to Windows Firewall. There is a premium ZoneAlarm version that features numerous additional options, but the free edition is sufficient for the majority of people.
The latest version of ZoneAlarm Free adds a few new features. For instance, you can now use “Full Stealth Mode” to completely hide your device from other computer networks. Another handy feature is ZoneAlarm’s Identity Protection Services which guards your personal data against attackers.
Also handy is the “Auto-Learn” or “Max Security” modes, letting the firewall learn how you use your applications and the internet or configure everything yourself.
GlassWire is a cool firewall and system monitoring tool. For a long time, internet and computer security was green text on black backgrounds and other poorly considered UIs. GlassWire didn’t change this, but the UI and overall resource display are delightful, making spotting and shutting down incoming issues a visual pleasure.
GlassWire is a mixture of both worlds. You probably don’t interact with your existing firewall. That’s good—it means it is doing its job. But GlassWire gives you the opportunity to spot a sudden surge in system activity, identify what’s causing it, and close the process, port, or internet connection before it escalates.
What Are Your Favorite Security Software?
We are at the end of the line of this article which was about computer security. Hopefully you have constructed a multi-layered security wall for your system. The important thing is not to panic. Yes, there are a huge amount of threats out there. Yes, they are getting worse as our dependence on computers grows. Therefore, you shouldn’t disconnect from everything ever and live in a cave.