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Source: pcworld

Put an end to prying eyes, bad guys and sneaky spies with free software for Windows that can help protect your privacy and security.

  1. Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Some of the biggest security holes in your PC aren’t directly related to Windows — instead, they’re in the applications you run. As often as not, that’s how hackers and crackers can get into your PC. For example, in the recent “Pwn to Own” hacker challenge, it was application vulnerabilities, not Windows Vista itself, that allowed hackers to crack Vista.

2. SendShield (beta)

Whenever you send PowerPoint, Excel or Word documents via Outlook, it examines them to see if they have any of private information. It then details what it finds and lets you remove the information with a single click. It deletes the information only from the copy of the file you send via e-mail, not the original on your hard disk.

You can also have the documents turned into PDFs and sent that way instead of as Office documents.

3. Avast Antivirus

Many for-pay antivirus programs, such as Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus, are system hogs, taking up far too much RAM and system resources, which slows down your PC unnecessarily. Not only that, but you have to pay an annual fee for using them.

4. HijackThis

Everybody should be using spyware-detection tools such as Lavasoft Ad-Aware or Spybot Search & Destroy — preferably both. But some malware is so nasty that it escapes detection from any spyware scanners — and can’t be removed by them, either.

5. SpywareBlaster

Of course, the best way to protect yourself against spyware is to make sure that it doesn’t install in the first place. That’s where SpywareBlaster from Javacool Software comes in. It stops the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, browser hijackers and other malware, and can also block spyware cookies.

6. F-Secure BlackLight Rootkit Eliminator

Rootkits are the most nefarious of all malware, giving hackers access to your entire PC without your knowledge. They use special techniques to hide themselves from many antivirus and anti-malware programs, which makes detecting and killing them exceedingly difficult. Because of that, just using antivirus software isn’t enough. Instead, you need a specialized rootkit detector and killer.

7. NoScript

JavaScript, Java, plug-ins and other code found on Web pages can do serious damage to your PC. They can deliver interactivity and other useful features, but they can also be used to wreak a great deal of havoc. To keep yourself safe on unfamiliar Web sites, you’ll want to turn them off, but doing so means that you’ll lose some of the nifty features on some of your favorite Web sites.

8. Comodo Firewall Pro

The firewall that ships with Windows XP or Vista simply isn’t good enough to keep you safe — you need better protection. There are plenty of free firewalls out there, but my favorite is Comodo Firewall Pro, which provides top-notch protection from both inbound and outbound threats. It offers other types of protection as well, including what it calls Defense+, which keeps you safe in several ways, including locking down certain files and folders so that they can’t be altered.

9. McAfee SiteAdvisor

The Web is filled with sites that harbor adware, spyware or worse. It can be almost impossible to know ahead of time whether you’ve visiting such a site. Making matters worse is that many of these sites also have legitimate information and software for download.

10. CCleaner

CCleaner does double duty: Not only does it help protect your privacy, but it also keeps your system clean and running well. To protect your privacy, it removes traces of your Internet history, such as your temporary Internet files, browsing history, autocomplete form history, and cookies. In addition, it cleans Windows’ Recent History list.

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