Evershifting World of Security

  1. Posts : 193
    Windows 7 Pro x64

    Evershifting World of Security

    The aim is to find reliable freeware for both anti-viral protection and firewall utility for Win 7 Pro. Both to be non-Microsoft, as Windows Defender zaps absolutely everything it doesn't like, irrespective of non-threat, as does the Windows firewall. Running Google Earth Pro with a trigger happy firewall comes over as pretty ordinary.

    1) Antivirus:

    Way back, I started using Avast freeware. This seemed to fit the bill, with smooth automatic viral definition updates and a monthly programme update that you could install manually when you had the time (since reboots are commonly required). Then both Google and MS announced that they had found Avast to be surreptitiously selling user data to marketers for much $$millions. Precisely the sort of sneaky, cynical behaviour that antiviral programmes are installed to protect against.

    So I went to AVG free antiviral. Although from the same Avast stable, neither Google nor MS had found AVG to behave like its' big brother Avast. Smooth auto viral updates, manual installation of monthly programme updates ... ok, all good. Nonetheless, I watched programme update changes like a hawk because those updates are where one can become trapped, with features you like deliberately removed and stuff you never want shoved in against your wishes. (Firefox is a good example of this behaviour). As far as I can tell, the unstated but over-riding principle is to remove user control by the salami slice method and insert Big Tech control with the salami slice. And so it has come to pass. AVG this month have deliberately removed the manual update capability for both viral definitions and programme features. My salami slice hypothesis now predicts that within a few more programme updates, AVG may suddenly block sites it considers as "undesirable", blaming viral infections where none actually exist, with no way back for the user except complete uninstallation.

    To the rescue ? BitDefender has recently reversed its' decision to end its' freeware version and is once again offering it. Works ok for me, has all the update requirements I look for and seems to have a good tranche of viral definitions to keep things clean. But the sudden backflips of yes/no/yes freeware says to me it can easily be reversed again. I think perhaps internal marketing wars may be to blame. So I watch with care.

    2) Firewall:

    Apart from not blocking incoming things arbitrarily, including Google Earth Pro, the main capability I've looked for is the granular ability to prevent individual "phone-homes" that I most definitely do not want to occur. The freeware Free Firewall programme does this. It's a German production and that shows in its' thoroughness. I was genuinely surprised at the large number of sneaky phone-homes there are with normal, every-day programmes. One such programme, a look-alike legitimate freeware version of MS Office, persistently forced inconsequential updates through, with the only real changes being the new update searching one's hard disk for newly created documents (Word, Excel etc). Pretty unpleasant. So I instructed Free Firewall in its' menus to block the outgoing phone-home from occurring every time the programme was opened, as this triggered the unstoppable update streams. Worked a treat ...

    Problems with Free Firewall ? Predictably, its' own updates. These are manually installed, so there's that, and reversing to the previous version is generally quite easy. New updates are not guaranteed to work well, and one can find browser internet access suddenly cut without warning. In that circumstance, I've just reversed the installation to the previous workable version and kept a *.json copy of the instructions listing which programmes are the good, the bad and the ugly.

    In summary, "The aim is to find reliable freeware for both anti-viral protection and firewall utility for Win 7 Pro." Comments on this, refinments etc, welcome.
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 55
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (single boot)

    There's things like Simplewall and Tinywall. I haven't heard of Free Firewall but if it's something similar and by a trustworthy programmer that's good enough unless you're running servers or something.

    Regarding AV suites unless you're getting virus hits every now and then, sadly they're worse than useless, especially the ones you mentioned. Even MBAM has become a bloated, computer-rebooting piece of junk. You can also never tell what they're phoning home.

    Focus on prevention. Don't run executables from sources you don't directly trust. Don't directly connect random friend's USB sticks and phone memory cards. Use ad blocker (and/or javascript blocker) in your browser, drive-by infections are often in the ads. Make use of browser settings, UAC, GPE and your firewall to prevent trojans that get downloaded from automatically running and phoning home to download the full payload. Always keep your internet-facing programs up to date (firewall, browsers, e-mail programs, Google Earth etc) or block them in the firewall. Use FOSS software wherever possible etc

    This is kind of "roll your own" advice but unfortunately even paid AV suites are such ineffective spyware garbage today that you might as well install Win 11. Use Virustotal, Opswat and such if you need to scan a suspicious file

    Learning to use virtual machines helps too
      My Computer

  3. Posts : 193
    Windows 7 Pro x64
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for the reply.

    In relation to your 2nd para, I do all that anyway, of course. Too old, grizzled and experienced to trust. That's why I watch the updates with minute care

    Using virtual machines adds some protection at the cost of efficient management of work loads but I use them on occasion to test new programmes.

    I'll look at Simplewall and Tinywall. I've found Free Firewall to be very useful after coping with the updates. Bitdefender seems to be working ok - first full scan found a few lurkers that are now deleted.

    Comparing your comments with where I've developed to, it appears neither of us are too far apart, although I'll stay with Win 7.
      My Computer


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