*UPDATED – September 5 2015*
Hello! I am gonna try my hands on this task, which seems 89.9-degree uphill. For the “freeware only” people. For those who want everything for free. Antivirus for Windows.
Windows is insecure as hell, with Microsoft not recommending its own Security Essentials. It spoofed its Windows Defender well. It had to move users from other security options, and it made people ditch everything for Security Essentials for sometime… till it got its marketshare and ditched it, just like other Microsoft programs.
It did its job well at its peak, catching 99% viruses for free, and real-time. The Windows Firewall also worked well. But now people have moved on, and as people move on to free solutions, they are boggled by the amount of articles declaring different solutions. My article may be one of them tomorrow. But if you read carefully, you will actually notice my solution works best.
So based on my personal experience, I will suggest you the best and rock-solid security for your Windows PC. It incldes all aspects. But before all that, I would like to tell you all the possible sources of viruses and malware (no article on the Internet specifying all possibilties till now). Here are possible virus sources:
- USB and CD/DVD and memory card autorun (INI files)
- Standalone EXEs, setups, BATs and COMs
- Cracks and keygens
- Fake and spoofed sites (porn and religious alike)
- Network attacks
- PDF/DOC(X)/XLS(X) documents embedded with virus
- Malicious email attachments
- Adware/spyware/toolbars embedded in setups commonly
I tackle each with efficiency. First instruction: Use or replace your browser with Firefox. Only then follow my instructions.
Let’s start off with the easiest:
Stop using offline email clients. Login with browser and logout. Do not open these emails. Look at the email address where it has come from. If its your friends’, phone him to confirm about attachments. Else delete it. Period.
Fake and spoofed sites
Install LinkExtend and WOT add-ons inside Firefox. Red means bad, green means safe. Any one flags any website as red, and you avoid it.
Cracks and keygens
Stop using paid software illegally. Try better free replacements for your softwares. There is hardly any software which does not have free alternative (exception WinRAR and CorelDraw).
Install NoScript add-on inside Firefox. Period.
PDF/DOC(X)/XLS(X) malicious documents
Upload each to VirusTotal. If any one flags it as danger, trash it. Contact author to clean up virus and then send it to you.
Use Comodo Firewall. It is the best and SHOULD be installed immediately after fresh Windows installation.
If it produces BSODs (which it does upon Windows installations crippled by registry cleaning, malware and junk installs), then install Emsisoft Online Armor.
If Emsisoft does not work in your case, use Private Firewall. It is quite impressive while keeping secure enough.
NOTE: Comodo producing BSODs is a great misconception. A well maintained or freshly installed Windows setup NEVER annoys.
USB and CD/DVD and memory card autorun (INI files)
If using Windows Vista and above, click Start and search AutoPlay. Open AutoPlay. Uncheck the box that says “Use AutoPlay for all media and devices”. Do not leave it partially checked. Then install Ninja Pendisk on your PC. Turn on “Auto Clean” and “Disable AutoPlay” by right-clicking the green ninja in the taskbar tray. Use Unlocker software for the more problematic ones. (Below suggesting antivirus.)
How to immune my USB drive from other PCs?
There is only one solution, albeit free, to do this. This concept is weird in that your USB does not have any power to protect itself even after being opened in an infected PC. Get MX One. Install it on your USB drive and keep it updated.
Standalone EXEs, setups, BATs and COMs (long explanation)
People say often now that Panda Cloud AV is the best. Indeed it is, due to 100% detection rates at real-time for free! The top-end ones like Kaspersky and BitDefender are the ones to do that, which means pay, which you do not want to do.
Long story cut short, use Avira Antivirus Free 15. It does not depend on the cloud a.k.a. Internet to detect viruses, and most people are not online 24×7. Offline protection is where Panda fails miserably, and this is where Avira excels. But does not have detection rates like Panda (it has 99%) but better for offline security, and in cases where virus intrudes your system and disables your Internet connection permanently.
Panda is known to cache cloud database on a PC but only for previously detected viruses, not any other viruses. And it only protects you from current viruses, not MS-DOS or others which can still be effective.
Avira is known to have the largest virus database in free category (arguable, 360 Total Security or Avast?) and shields your PC overall (inarguable). It has much better protection than most free effective solutions.
Adware/spyware/toolbars embedded in setups commonly
Use free WinPatrol. Period.
Firefox + NoScript + LinkExtend + WOT + VirusTotal (online) + Comodo Firewall Free + Ninja Pendisk + MX One + Avira Antivirus + WinPatrol = FREE SOLID PROTECTION
P.S. I use Kaspersky PURE 3.0 with free WinPatrol instead of all that. Costs me 900 INR per year. Better security for some money. Can be worth it.