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P2P file sharers should take these necessary precautions before working with any file sharing programs. Antivirus software, antispyware and a good firewall are the big three prerequisites for safe downloading. And here are some other lesser-known tips to aid in covering Internet activities, properly deleting files and file/folder encryption.
We cannot emphasize strongly enough about the importance of having a reputable working Antivirus program installed on your system. Update your virus definitions often, and keep your ?auto protect? feature set to ON. Antivirus is crucial to maintaining a safe downloading environment. And avoid downloading Antivirus/Antispyware programs from P2P networks (especially Limewire-type ones). This is like giving your keys to a car thief. There are lots of programs available for FREE all over the Internet. But if you must download a commercial antivirus program (like Norton or McAfee), then do it from a BitTorrent website, and use these software tips here.
We recommend Avast Home Edition v4.7 (Freeware).
We also recommend AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition v7.5 (Freeware).
NOTE: Many viruses/malware etc. remain undetected in archived formats (*.ZIP, *.RAR, etc). This is especially true of ?images? like *.ISO and *.BIN files. If you extract, ?mount? or burn these files, be certain to run a ?scan? on the newly extracted files, or if mounted/burned, scan the drive letter where you mounted the file or the drive of the CD/DVD reader (with the disk in).
Install an antispyware program as well. There is so much adware, malware and Trojans out there that typical Antivirus programs do not detect. Use an antispyware program in conjunction with an Antivirus program.
We highly esteem ?Counterspy v2.5″ by Sunbelt Software, because it finds more spyware and malware than any other software. Normally we wouldn?t endorse a paid product but if you?re gonna invest in a paid-version of antispyware software, this is the one to get!
Ed.?s note: Counterspy was the only program that fixed the trojan on my friend?s computer - I tried 8 others and not one other program would find (let alone fix) the malware.
Spyware Terminator 2 (Freeware). Spyware Terminator includes Real-Time Protection and antivirus. Effectively remove spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers and home page hijackers.
Rootkits are used to hide the presence of a malicious object like trojans, worms or keyloggers on your computer. Anti-Rootkit software does not to be run every day, just periodically. Try one of these free ones - we endorse AVG?s Anti-Rootkit.
RootKit Hook Analyzer v3.02
SpyCatcher Express 2007
See our Stormbot/Phishing article for Rootkit information.
Aside from Antivirus, AntiSpyware and IP Blocking software, a good firewall is the fourth and final cornerstone in P2P safety. A firewall can protect you from:
? Hacking attempts, malware, spyware, unauthorized entry (network and programs).
Windows XP/Vista has a built-in firewall, but it?s not adequate to handle the duties of a dedicated firewall - disable it and use an external program instead.
We recommend Zone Alarm v7.0x, it?s free.
Delivers proactive firewall protection with multiple layers of security that stop inbound, outbound, and program attacks while remaining completely invisible to hackers.
? Guards the network perimeter from inbound and outbound threats with the world?s #1 firewall.
? Prevents spyware and other malicious programs from sending your personal information across the Internet.
? Full ?stealth mode? to keep you concealed from anyone on the Internet.
? Protects your computer from malware.
Visit here to see some Zone Alarm screenshots.
Sygate Personal Firewall 5.6 is another good firewall that we recommend (but not Freeware).
File Encryption Software/Hiding Files & Folders
Keep private files of all types and formats on your computer without worrying about anyone other than yourself ever finding it!
Folder Lock 5.8.0 - We recommend ?Folder Lock? because files/folders are protected even in DOS and Safe Mode. Here?s the publisher?s description:
Folder Lock is a fast file-security program that can password-protect, lock, hide and encrypt any number of files, folders, drives, pictures and documents in seconds. Protected files are hidden, undeletable, inaccessible and highly secure.?
Erase your Tracks (PC & Internet History)
Your computer tracks all your activities, and saves the information to your hard drive. Information that is saved includes:
? Websites you have visited (Internet ?Cache?) - web pages, pictures, movies, video files, location history, and cookies.
? The Windows Run history, Recent Documents, temporary files, search history.
? Media player playlists, history of files played (video/music).
Tracks Eraser Pro 7.0
We recommend ?Tracks Eraser Pro? - an all-in-one solution to deleting the most common traces of computer activities. Plus, it supports a ton of plugins for specific program integration (Windows Media Player, etc.). Here?s the publisher?s description:
Tracks Eraser Pro is designed to protect you by cleaning up all the tracks of Internet activities on your computer. It allows you to erase cache, cookies, index.dat, playlist, recent files from your browser and up to 50 popular applications. It also has a Custom Item lets you erase the files and registry for yourself. With the Securely Erasing feature, you can erase files completely, others can not recover/undelete them.?
File Shredding Software
A ?File Shredder? is a recommended utility that securely deletes your files so they can?t be restored using recovery software. When you delete a file using the conventional Windows delete method, the file is not actually destroyed. Windows simply acknowledges the file is no longer needed and considers it free space. The deleted file will exist in a recoverable state until it?s over-written with other data. When you use a file shredder to shred a file, the file is over-written with random bytes before it is deleted.
We recommend ?Simple File Shredder? v3.2 (Freeware) - users can choose either 7X or 35X overwrite of the selected files - so rest assured that they aren?t coming back
Also recommended: File Shredder 2.0 (Freeware)
File Shredder is free desktop application to securely shred files and folders on computer. Files deleted with File Shredder can not be retrieved back. File Shredder supports multiple shredding algorithms up to 7 passes, US government compliant DoD 5220-22.M, Guttman method, shell integration on right click in Windows, Disk Wiper to shred unused free space.?