What I Use On My Computers
I’ve gone through a lot of antiviruses in my day, both pay-for and free. On top of the heap is Bitdefender. It consistently performs extremely well in every test out there, including from independent testing labs like AV-Test.org and AV-Comparatives.org.
What’s more, it’s one of the easiest antiviruses I’ve ever used and the support they provide is top-notch. Free solutions don’t provide those things. If it’s in your budget to upgrade to a paid solution, I can’t recommend Bitdefender enough.
I’ve used other giants like Carbonite, Crashplan, Dropbox, and Google Drive, but eventually settled with SpiderOak because no other backup company goes the length that they do to respect your data.
Not only is it crazy secure, but it’s completely private. Not even their employees can see anything you backup to their servers because it’s encrypted on your computer with keys only you possess before it’s uploaded. And you can’t even turn that feature off. They won’t let you. These guys are doing it right.
If you spend a lot of time in coffee shops, hotels, or airports, or you just don’t want your ISP spying on you, you need to be using a VPN service. Using a VPN gives you a private little tunnel of your own to hide in on the internet. That makes using public hotspots much, much safer, and keeps your ISP out of your business.
I use ProXPN because it’s reliable, extremely secure (as in 512-bit encryption overkill), and they have stated very plainly in their Terms of Service that they will never give away your data to anyone, ever. Furthermore, they don’t keep any logs of your activity, completely wiping them after you disconnect from every session in order to ensure your privacy.
Unfortunately, most people don’t even consider that backing up their stuff is a necessary security strategy. But it’s one of the best things you can do. For instance, if you’re infected with malware that corrupts your files or holds them for ransom, you’ll be able to restore good copies from the backups. For more on this, check out my article on why backups are important for security.
I use Acronis to back up my entire system to a USB hard drive in case of a system failure. This will let me restore the computer to exactly the way it was before the crash – something I’ve needed to do more than once.
I like Acronis in particular because it’s incredibly powerful and easy to use. Also, it lets you encrypt your backups. This is important because external drives are easily lost or stolen. Encrypting the backups will ensure the data is worthless to whoever ends up with it.
I don’t forget passwords anymore because I don’t have to remember them. Lastpass is my password brain. It’s got tons of features and the security is as good as it gets. It’s even been thoroughly vetted by security expert Steve Gibson. That’s good enough for me.
And the best part – it’s completely free. I pay for the premium version because it lets me install it on my mobile devices too. And what’s the price for the premium version? $1 per month. Well worth it.
Other Stuff I Use
EMET helps protect against zero-day attacks (unknown vulnerabilities in your programs). Check out my EMET How-To guide for using it.
This is a tool that will help you keep your programs updated automatically so you don’t have to keep track of it all yourself. See my Secunia PSI How-To guide for instructions.