Computer security...we all need it, but don’t necessarily want to pay for it. If you have DSL or cable – a connection that is always on – chances are you need an anti-virus program and a firewall. A free firewall is included with Windows XP SP2 and Vista, so as long as you keep up with your Windows Updates, then you need only to concentrate on finding a good anti-virus. If you look on deal-finder websites (Fat Wallet, Deal Catcher, and Cheap Stingy Bargins) then you can sometimes find anti-virus suites, such as Norton, MacAfee, and Kaspersky, for free or at a discounted rate with mail-in-rebates. If you don’t want to wait for one of these deals to come along, then you can look into programs that are always free.
One of the best free anti-virus programs is offered by AVG. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition provides protection against viruses, spyware, adware, trojans and worms, and it provides you free updates for the lifetime of the product. While most free anti-virus programs can scan your computer for viruses, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition offers you real-time protection. Instead of just scanning your computer when you think it may already be infected, it keeps an eye on your computer in real-time and alerts you of problems as they occur. Included with the anti-virus software is LinkScanner Active Surf-Shield, which provides real time protection against web pages that may pose a threat to your computer, and LinkScanner Search-Shield, which provides a safety rating for all search results.
AVG is a great free tool, however, it does not protect you against web downloads or threats coming in through chat. It also does not protect against heavily disguised threats known as rootkits. You can always upgrade your protection level by subscribing to AVG Internet Security. A one year subscription to this service starts at $54.99.