Archive for category Privacy and Security

Free Antivirus for iOS

iOS antivirus is a new concept to me. However, as one of the top two mobile operating systems it is inevitable that it will be targeted by malware and viruses.  No matter how remote the prospect of an infection might seem it is always better to err on the side of caution and defend in depth.

Remember to protect both you iPhone and iPad.

There are other companies that make antivirus apps for a fee but I’m focusing here on the free stuff by reputable firms.


Avira – Free antivirus. German firm that has a good reputation.

Lookout – Free for iPhone. Reputable company.  I do not know if this will also work on iPad.

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Secure Browsers for Windows

Honestly, the OS (operating system) probably matters more than your browser for security. Windows is hard to secure and you would be better off running Linux or Apple OS X if you want security.

There are two things you need to look at for browser security: 1. how good is it at keeping out bad guys and malware; 2. is the browser phoning home private information about you to it’s maker or some third party, where that info becomes a temptation for governments on fishing expeditions.

Here are my choices for relatively secure Windows browsers:

Comodo Dragon – I like this better than Google Chrome. It is very similar to Chrome but does not phone home to Google. This is basically Chrome without Google looking over your shoulder.

Ice Dragon – also by Comodo. This is Comodo’s security enhanced version of Firefox, and allows you to use Firefox extensions.

Epic Privacy Browser – (available for Windows and Mac) I will refer you to the website to explain what Epic does to protect your privacy. No system is bullet proof but this is a step in the right direction.

Opera – my old standby.

Note: All browsers can be made more secure by turning Java script off.

No browser is 100% secure. With Windows always use an anti-virus program to protect your computer.

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Secure and Private Search Engines

Privacy is now a major concern for web searchers.  Here are three web search engines that are about as secure as anything gets on the WWW.  All three provide security First, by letting your enter your search query on a secure server (SSL) and Second, by keeping no record log of you or your search.  Therefore there is no data about you or your queries to subpoena or steal.


DuckDuckGo – American company, mainly uses Bing to provide search data but also collects it’s own data then remixes.  Results are quite good for everyday use.  This is my preferred search engine. IOS and Android mobile app available.

Start Page – Dutch owned site.  Uses plain vanilla feed from Google, so you are getting Google results without geo-location (local) adjustments and without any personalization. Quite good. IOS and Android mobile app available.

Ixquick – Dutch owned site by the same people that own Start Page. This is a meta-search engine: it queries several search engines, compares the results, and the more search engines that agree on the ranking of a web page the higher it appears in the search results. IOS mobile app available.

Keep in mind that major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo are gathering as much information as they can about you and what you like to search for.   With that information they custom craft the search results you see.  The three secure searches above are recording no data about you so there is nothing that can be used against you.


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Free Antivirus for Android

Android smartphones have become so popular that the badguys are now gunning for them with viruses and malware.  There is a lot of debate as to how effective antivirus programs really are for Android. My feeling is that half a shield is better than no shield.

Surprisingly, much of the malware for Android comes from malicious apps users download right from the Android app store.  Your best line of defense is to stick with official apps from known, reputable firms.

Free Android Antivirus:

AVG –  I used this on the Android phone I had for about 6 months.  It always worked in the background but it showed up in the notification bar that it checked each download.  I never had a problem with it.  They make an Android tablet version that is worth checking out.  Your tablet should be protected too.

Avast! –  A reputable firm. I have no experience with this product.

Lookout –  I have not used this product. But since other firms compare themselves to Lookout that gives them some credibility.

Avira – German. Free.

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Free Antivirus for the Mac

The bad guys are starting to target Apple Macintosh computers running OS X.  As of this writing, I am not yet convinced that the average Mac user need pay for AV protection.  However, I would not run my Mac today without having at least a free antivirus program on it.

WARNING: Be aware that there are Mac trojans masquerading as virus scanners!

Here are some free AV programs for the Mac from trustworthy companies:

1. Avast! Free anti-virus for Mac –  I have not used it but Avast’s Windows AV is excellent. Good company.

2. Comodo anti-virus for Mac – has a good reputation.

3. ClamXav –  a Mac version of the Win. open source antivirus program.  This has been around for years and is gaining in popularity.

4. Sophos Free –  Sophos has a pretty good reputation and they are a reliable company.

5. Avira – German, Free.

So what about your personal recommendation?  I currently use iAntivirus free from PC Tools on my Macs, however as I write this  they have a “Coming Soon” blocking page up for a new version so I cannot recommend it until I see it.

Note: there are many paid antivirus programs from many reputable companies available.  Most are expensive to buy and renew.  I have used several paid programs and had trouble removing them after they had expired which is something very unusual for software running on Mac OS X. Personally, I would try one of the above, free programs first.

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Free Antivirus Programs for Windows

Most new computers come with a limited free trial of either Norton or MacAfee anti-virus programs. In my experience these market leaders have become bloated and rather expensive.  You can get excellent AV protection for free.

You must protect your PC!

WARNING: There are many websites distributing free antivirus programs that are actually malware and/or spyware!  The AV programs I have listed below are ones that are legitimate.

Here are a few good free anti-virus programs for Windows computers.

1. AVG Free Edition –  This is my favorite of all the free AV programs.  I have used this for years and currently have it running on my Win 7 desktop media center.  I think the paid version is slightly better but the free version is excellent.

2. Avast! – I have used the free edition and I know others who have been very satisfied with it. Avast free always tells you what it is doing. While this is reassuring it can also be a bit intrusive. I suspect the paid versions are quiter and more in the background. It’s not quite nag-ware but you know it is there.  Still very good AV protection.

3. Avira – I hear it works but I have not used it.

4.  ClamAV – This is the open source AV engine for Windows.

5. PC Tools Antivirus Free – I have not used the PC version of PC Tools AV, but I do use their Macintosh OS X version so I know they are legit.

6. Comodo AntiVirus – has a good reputation.

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