Two Free Anti-Virus Tools: Bitdefender and Your Own Brain

Two Free Anti-Virus Tools: Bitdefender and Your Own Brain

Want to protect your PC from viruses and other malware, without spending a big chunk of money on security software?

First, grab Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. You wouldn’t think a free utility would offer much in the way of protection, but earlier this week, the folks over at PC Gamer ranked it the top free antivirus software for PC. And last year, PC Mag rated it four stars and similarly ranked it among the best in its class.

Second, upgrade to Your Brain 2.0. Because, quite frankly, most security breaches are avoidable–and your fault. (I know: harsh!) Thankfully, with a little education, you can learn to steer clear of the Internet’s most common (and dangerous) threats: fake security alerts and phishing e-mails.

Let’s start with the former. Out of the blue, a pop-up window warns you of newly discovered security threats on your computer–and offers to help you remove them.

Fake security alert

The window looks like an honest-to-goodness security program (if not an alert from Windows proper), and all it wants to do is scan your PC or “block the attack”–so you go ahead and click OK.

Guess what: you’ve been had. That genuine-looking pop-up was a fake, and by clicking it you opened the door to malware infections and, potentially, stolen personal info. Fortunately, it’s not hard to spot fake security programs–you just have to know what to look for.

For one thing, if you already have a security program installed on your PC–Bitdefender, for example!–and the pop-up has a generic name like Spyware Defense 2014, you know it’s a fake. Only the Bitdefender product should be issuing alerts.

Other telltale signs include poor grammar or spelling, or alerts that seem out of place. Same goes for phishing e-mails, which try to get you to click fraudulent (but authentic-looking) links through scare tactics. “You’re account has been compramised!” (Phishermen are usually terrible spellers.) Don’t take the bait.

Fake phishing e-mail

Alas, users get taken by these fake security programs all the time. After it runs a “scan” on your system (and finds all kinds of infections, natch), the program asks for a credit card number so you can buy the full version, which is “required” to rid your system of all that nasty malware.

Don’t fall for this. Treat all pop-up security alerts and suspicious e-mail with, well, suspicion. Keep your browser and operating system up to date, and choose a reliable security program for your PC. Bitdefender is one solid option; another is Avast! Free Antivirus.

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.


Rick Broida has spent the last 25 years writing about technology in all its forms. A self-proclaimed cheapskate, he authors an eponymous blog for CNET. He is also a contributor to CNET's iPhone Atlas and Ehow Tech. Broida's book credits include the best-selling "How to Do Everything with Your Palm Handheld" and the more recent "The Cheapskate Rules: 21 Easy Money-Saving Tech Secrets."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *