7 Top Anti-Virus Programs For Free

Let’s face it. In this day and age of hackers running rampant on the web it is essential for everyone to do the best to protect themselves and their computers. Surfing the internet without an anti-virus or any kind of protection is not only crazy, it is outright dangerous. In fact, doing so can be compared to you leaving your home or apartment doors wide open – without any locks – and then going to work or on vacation.

Still, anti-virus programs can be expensive to purchase. This is even more so if you have several computers or devices to protect. Luckily, there are many companies out there offering internet protection for no charge at all. These 7 top anti-virus programs for free are some of the very best out there. And they won’t cost you a dime to use on your device.

Free Comes With A Price

As we all know, there is hardly ever anything free in this world without any strings attached; especially programs such as anti-virus and computer protection. So what do these free anti-virus companies really mean then? Well in truth, all of them are in fact trying to make money. After all, that is what businesses and services are in the game for. The companies which give out free anti-virus and protection do so with a few strings attached. For one, most of them will constantly send you notices or messages about the benefits of upgrading. These messages will likely come via emails or pop-ups.Don’t miss reading these 12 Things To Do To Avoid Messing Up Your Computer

Other programs will ask you to install browser extensions and free toolbars. However, they are both not recommended and you should avoid doing so. For one, most anti-virus extensions never really offer any additional functions that you don’t already have. Secondly, the browser toolbars only serve to collect your personal information. In turn, the advertiser will sell that info to others. Lastly, these extensions and toolbars can end up slowing down your devices. Keep that in mind since this is the price you pay for something free.

Avast – Mac, Windows

With an easy to use interface and several useful tools to help you protect yourself from hackers, Avast is a great free anti-virus program to install. You can use for it either Windows or Mac. Avast Antivirus only uses a small level of system resources as well. This is very important since it will not slow down your PC, computer or laptop. Avast Antivirus also has a 99.6% protection rate which is pretty high for a free anti-virus program.

Zone Alarm – Windows

The ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus software comes with many of the features found on most paid programs. It also has a basic free firewall as extra protection. ZoneAlarm has been around for many years now helping deter hackers and other internet intruders from stealing your info. Unfortunately for Mac users, ZoneAlarm only works for Windows OS. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus also has identity protection to help you protect your personal data. Although it is rather basic, it is still good to have.

Avira – Windows, Mac

Avira antivirus software has one of the highest protection rates on the market for most Anti-virus programs. At 99.9%, Avira antivirus program offers users solid and complete protection. However, those results came from the pro version of Avira. Still, the free version still delivers a great amount of firepower and protection. You can do scans on your devices to check if any virus or malware has infiltrated your computer.

Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free – Windows

Another solid performer in the world of internet protection is the Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free antivirus program. In the pro version testing, Lavasoft’s pro version scored 99.3%. It is only available for Windows users though. Lavasoft is primarily focused on protection from anti-spyware and anti-adware. If you are one of those that detest both of those, then Lavasoft is great option.

Bitdefender – Windows

With its anti-fraud and anti-phishing features to keep you safe on the web, Bitdefender is a great tool in the fight against hackers and malware. The pro version of Bitdefender garnished a 99.9% rate of protection. While the free version may not do as well, it is pretty impressive for a tool that won’t cost you a dime. Plus, the interface is user friendly and easy to use.

AVG – Mac, Windows

Although AVG antivirus has a few extra features you can do without, it still a great tool to add in the fight against malware. The pro version of AVG scored a 99.6% rate which is very impressive. It also only uses a very minimal amount of system resources. The mobile antivirus and system cleanup are some of the extras you can do without. The same goes for some annoying pop-ups asking you to upgrade. Nonetheless, it is a small price to pay – no pun intended – for a free antivirus such as AVG.You may also want to check out the Dangers Of Downloading Free Files From The Internet

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – Windows, Mac

For surfers of the internet who hate malware – and who doesn’t? – the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware program is a must have. Malwarebytes has been around for many years now helping users defeat web annoying malware. The main focus of the program is getting rid of any adware you may have on your computer. One downside is that you will only get manual capabilities and no real time protection from Malwarebytes unless you upgrade. Yet they do offer you a free 14 day trial to see and use all of those extra functions.

10 Evil User Tricks for Bypassing Anti-Virus

Add Anti-Virus Policy Exceptions

A fun option that occasionally works is creating custom exceptions to the anti-virus solution’s policy. For example, an end user could create an exception that would allow all files with the “.exe” extension to run on the system. As a result, most malware and “hacker tools” would not get blocked or deleted.

This is less common in recent years, but historically non-administrative users had the privileges to disable many anti-virus solutions via the GUI interface. It used to be as simple as right-clicking the taskbar icon and choosing disable. As you can imagine, the skill level required to execute this bypass is low, but the risk to an organization is high.

Terminate Anti-Virus Processes

Some anti-virus solutions consist of multiple services that like to continuously restart each other. That’s when terminating the process before disabling a service can come in handy. Usually the taskkill command can be used. That’s essentially what the Metasploit post module “killav” does.

Stop and Disable Anti-Virus Services

In some cases users don’t have the privileges to disable anti-virus via the GUI, but they do have control over the associated services. If that is the case, then anti-virus services can usually be stopped and disabled. This can be accomplished via services.msc, the “sc” command, or the “net stop” command. However, always make sure to be a good little pentester and restore the services to their original state before logging out of the system. To stop a Windows service issue the following command:

net stop “service name

To disable a Windows service issue the following command:

sc config "service name" start= disabled

The services.msc console can be also be used to stop and disabled services via a GUI interface.  It can be accessed by navigating to start->run, and typing “services.msc”.

Disable Anti-Virus via Debugger Setting

This is a very cool trick that Khai Tran told me about. The original article he referenced can be found at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/greggm/archive/2005/02/21/377663.aspx. I recommend taking a look at it. In short, it says that users have the ability to prevent anti-virus from running by setting a custom debugger in the registry. When the operating system or user attempts to execute anti-virus the specified debugger is executed instead. Very clever, Internet, very clever. Apparently this has been used by malware developers for years. The basic steps for conducting the attack have been provided below. Please note that these were taken from the link above.

  1. Run regedit.exe
  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionImage File Execution Options
  3. Create a new key (example: calc.exe)
  4. Create a new string value under your exe. The name of the string value is ‘Debugger’, and the value is svchost.exe (or anything)

Uninstall Anti-Virus Software

Although I don’t recommend uninstalling anti-virus during a penetration test, it can still be considered a valid bypass method. Some solutions may require a password before the uninstall process can begin. In those instances, the password can usually be found in the registry or an ini file on the system. However, other bypass methods are available like the one described within the article link below. It recommends simply terminating the “msiexec.exe” process when prompted for the uninstall password. http://helpdeskgeek.com/help-desk/uninstall-symantec-endpoint-protection-without-a-password/

Execute from a UNC Path or Removable Media

Some solutions are not configured to scan or prevent the execution of malicious binaries from SMB or WebDAV when accessed via the UNC path. It’s strange, but true. As a result, attackers can simply map an evil share containing backdoors, hacker tools etc., and execute malware to their hearts’ content. I guess some people are under the impression that malware can’t be stored on network drives. Similarly, some solutions are not configured to scan or prevent the execution of binaries from removable media such as an SD card, iPod, or USB drive. It’s pretty common to drop evil USB drives during onsite social engineering engagements, so this one scares me a little.

Antivirus Software – How Does It Improve Profitabilty

What is antivirus software for a small business in terms of the impact on end results – profits?  While we all know that the Internet is still the wild west in many ways as it relates to threats, how does antivirus software actually save money for an organization?

What Is Antivirus Software

Antivirus software defends against known threats through what are called signatures or against suspicious behavior. It is ultimately about repelling malicious attacks which may result in slow computer performance, lost data, system downtime or other negative outcomes.  How does this really affect a small business?

Let’s take the example of a small business with a $1.5M annual payroll.  This results in a $750.00 hourly rate across the employee base assuming 50 work weeks.  If there is an hour per month on average of productivity lost across the employee base due to a poorly protected network, it would cost the company $9,000.00 per year.  It is best for the small business owner to make the assessment of exposure, there is clearly ample motivation to make sure that good protection is in place and always updated.

There are a number of options to making sure that profitability is not impacted in this way.  There are on-premise products for antivirus protection from a number of vendors or it can be provided as part of IT Managed Services.  The benefit to the latter is not only ensuring that licenses and signatures are up to date, but also having professional services experts in place who know what to do in case of attack.

Antivirus is only one example of information technology that can impact the bottom line of a small business.  There are other threats (e.g. Spam, data loss, etc.) and other opportunities such as having the right technology to drive sales, increase productivity and improve efficiency.  While each individual area of IT may seem small in terms of impact, taken together they quickly add up and are often hidden. How much time has your company lost from virus issues?

Key Takeaways:

  • Antivirus software defends against known threats as well as suspicious behavior
  • Without proper defenses, slow performance, lost data and other consequences may cause thousands in lost employee productivity
  • Managed antivirus software has the benefit of real-time updating and expertise availability in case of attack