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30+ Free Security, Encryption, Firewall and Antivirus Apps for Windows

30+ Free Security, Encryption, Firewall and Antivirus Apps for Windows

    It’s hard to maintain a secure, virus-free Windows set-up. The Internet is like a minefield, where a poorly protected computer can become infected by all sorts of virii or allow malicious individuals to tinker with your hard drive’s contents, or worse, your operating system itself.

    Don’t waste any time getting your Windows computer secured. You don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars to do this — and if you have a computer that’s not secured already, you may be unaware that not all free software is malicious. In fact, free, open source software makes up a huge chunk of the software ecosystem today, Firefox being one prevalent example.

    Which reminds me—if you’re using Internet Explorer, the first step is to grab Firefox, get rid of IE, and come back to this page in your new browser.

    Security isn’t about blocking malicious actions, it’s about keeping your data safe. While much of that is about keeping virii or hackers out, it’s also about keeping backups so hardware failure, natural disasters or malicious attacks don’t destroy your primary copy for good.

    1. TrueCrypt – free open source disk encryption that works in real-time.

    2. GnuPG – a free open source alternative to PGP, the public key encryption software.

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    3. Steganos Locknote – allows you to encrypt your sensitive data such as bank account details and account passwords as Locknotes.

    4. AntiVir is anti-virus software that features a resident background monitor and a manual hard drive scanner.

    5. AVG Free features a resident background monitor, manual hard drive scanner, continuous email scanner, and the ability to repair files affected by virii.

    6. avast! is a free anti-virus comparable to AVG, though it requires you register an account with the company in order to use the software.

    7. ZoneAlarm Firewall is an effective stand-alone program including the firewall component of the larger commercial offering, ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite.

    8. Filseclab Personal Firewall Professional Edition is another free personal firewall, albeit with a somewhat contradictory name.

    9. Windows Privacy Tools is a collection of apps for digital encryption and content signing. Multilingual.

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    10. Online Armor Personal Firewall (Free Edition) is a free personal firewall alternative to Online Armor’s commercial applications.

    11. Cryptainer LE is free 128-bit encryption software from Cypherix.

    12. Comodo Firewall Pro is a free personal firewall with a built-in anti-virus scanner.

    13. Adeona is a free open source application for tracking your stolen laptop.

    14. RISING Antivirus is free anti-virus software with resident background monitoring and on-demand scanning.

    15. WIPFW is a packet filtering and account firewall based on FreeBSD’s IPFW.

    16. CryptoExpert 2008 Lite protects your data by creating files that serve as encrypted virtual disks.

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    17. Comodo doesn’t just offer a free firewall, it offers a free virus-squasher too.

    18. PC Tools offers a free anti-virus application among its group of commercial programs.

    19. E4M is a free, open source encryption application. While it’s no longer supported by the developer, it is still available for download.

    20. SoftPerfect Personal Firewall is another free network firewall with user-defined rules for blocking or accepting incoming connections.

    21. Darik’s Boot and Nuke is a boot disk that’ll allow you to securely erase your hard drives, ensuring nobody can recover your credit card details after they find your drive at the dump.

    22. Secure Delete allows you to securely delete a file or folder (rather than your whole hard drive) by trashing your selection and then overwriting it with random data, making it unrecoverable.

    23. Dubaron DiskImage is a hard drive backup and partition restore application.

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    24. Forensic Aquisition Utilities includes tools to perform a secure system wipe so that data becomes unrecoverable.

    25. Jetico Personal Firewall is a free personal firewall that’s better than most other options if you have an older system, that is, earlier than Windows XP.

    26. Eraser is a secure data eraser for all Windows operating systems and even DOS.

    27. SelfImage allows you to make an exact copy of your hard drive in a disk image for later backup.

    28. SDelete is a free secure delete application for the command line from Microsoft themselves.

    29. SunbeIt Personal Firewall is the rebranded version of the very popular Kerio Personal Firewall (there’s a free and a commercial version).

    30. Autoclave, while no longer supported by its developer, is still useful because it’s a secure disk wiper that you can run from a floppy disk.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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