Refined for 2010, the Security Starter Kit will ensure that your sanity lasts way longer than your resolutions through a collection of must-have programs to protect your Windows computer.
In our six categories this year, we offer the core essentials of Antivirus and Anti-spyware, as well as ancillary but important categories such as In-browser Security, Firewall, Encryption, and Parental Control. If you're looking for more than security, there's also our Windows Starter Kit. Essential utilities have earned their own kit, too: the Windows Utilities Starter Kit.
- CNET editors' rating: 4.5 stars
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is a surprisingly effective freeware anti-malware tool. It's a relatively speedy malware remover, with the quick-scan mode taking about 10 minutes. The heuristics engine proved on multiple computers during empirical testing that it was capable of determining the difference between false positives and dangerous apps.
The app has some nice features rolled in, too. It supports multiple drive scanning, context menu options including a scan-on-demand for individual files, and the FileAssassin option under the More Tools section for removing locked files. The interface is simple, but pleasant-looking and well-organized. Tabs live just below the oversized logo, with few options per tab to keep the clutter to a minimum. The installation process was fast enough, but interestingly offered up the well-kept change log and an instant definition file update. You can pay for an upgrade to some snazzier features such as real-time protection and automatic updates, but the free version is still a worthwhile, responsive malware remover.
- CNET editors' rating: 5.0 stars
ThreatFire offers real-time prevention of virus and malware infections by identifying suspicious behavior ("zero-day" events) as it happens, before malicious code installs itself on your PC.
ThreatFire does do some things very well. It seeks out rootkits, heuristics-based threats, viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, keyloggers, and buffer overflows. The software real-time protection didn't noticeably slow down our computer, and the customizable advanced settings were excellent. Users can pick and choose their preferred trusted processes and create rules for detection, such as scanning for SCR files created by an e-mail client. You can also avail yourself of the scheduler, and create a system restore point before moving threats into quarantine. Working as a complement to your currently installed antivirus, ThreatFire has improved markedly in the past few years.