Spyware, viruses, Trojans, and assorted malware are a constant threat and cause a lot of damage. Snoopers want to get at your personal information for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft. Fortunately, plenty of free software is available to protect your privacy and security and some free programs will work just as well as the expensive security software does.
Avast Free Antivirus
Avast's free sodtware finished second in PCWorld's 2012 free antivirus roundup. Avast Free Antivirus 7 mostly excelled in protecting against malware, it has a versatile interface, and it sped through their malware tests.
Avast's defenses were weakest at blocking new real-world threats: It caught just 78.6 percent of them--not outstanding, but slightly above average. Avast did far better at stopping well-known malware, detecting 99.1 percent of samples in our zoo test--a very good showing. This package cleans up malware infections effectively, as well. It detected all the malware residing on their test PC, and disarmed the invaders 93 percent of the time, tying for second-best in this test. The utility also removed all traces of infections two-thirds of the time.
Stop Spyware in Its Tracks With Open-Source HijackThis
Downlaod from SourceForge
HijackThis helps you spot anomalies in your Windows and program installations. These irregularities can be anything from unknown DLLs in the system folder, to non-standard context menu entries, to unknown services or registry entries. It presents you with a list of said items, which you may then select for removal. Click the Fix This button, and they vanish.
The vast majority of the items HijackThis displays are harmless, and in many cases necessary to the proper functioning of something legitimate. In other words, you can do a lot of damage with HijackThis if you start deleting items willy-nilly. If you don't have a good basic grasp on what goes where within the Windows operating system and application installations, or what malware and registry detritus looks like, keep your click-finger away from the Fix This button.
SpywareBlaster protects you by adding the URLs of risky sites to your browser's Restricted Zone, preventing malware from installing. The program doesn't scan or work in the background, but for a $10 registration, it will automatically download Restricted Zone lists.
The only downside, and it doesn't happen often, is that the tool may lock out a site you visit. Just remove the site from SpywareBlaster's list.