If I’ve learned anything in my years of online security writing and research, it’s that if you want something good you have to pay for it. This is particularly true for VPNs and virus protection. Yes, I have written a review of the best free VPNs, but those are not ideal in comparison to the ten best paid options.
There are some instances, however, when not for profit companies, or companies which are for profit but looking to attract new clients with free software, do create free online security tools that are good. Let’s look at them now, and let’s protect you better online after you’ve chosen a VPN to handle your encryption.
Free online security tools to use with a VPN
Password managers are perfect tools to use with your VPN as they take care of the single biggest factor in your online security: Passwords. Specifically, having a wide variety of passwords for all of your different accounts.
The theory is that if you have one account hacked, and your password stolen, only that one account will be compromised if it’s the only one with that same login/password combo. Services to try include:
- LastPass: As one of the oldest in the business it was made a target for a hack, but I have yet to read of any actual losses.
- Sticky Password: Their premium accounts pay for the free ones to still have good security.
- 1Password: You get 30 days free to figure out if it’s worth the investment over the above two options.
These are very useful free online security tools. Out of everything I talk about here, this needs to be something you use.
Two factor authentication
This adds an extra layer of passwords on top of your passwords. Before Xzibit shows up to meme how you can password you passwords while you’re passwording…
…too late. Two factor authentication sends you a one time use password, either to your smartphone or email, after you correctly enter your normal password. This happens when you sign in from a new device, thwarting hackers who steal your password in another account.
A wide variety of websites use this, and all you have to do is turn it on. You can read a full list here, but some of the social sites are:
For most of these, all you have to do is find them in your settings and turn them on. Pretty simple, very free security.
Checking to see if you’ve suffered a data breach can be as simple as entering your email address and looking to see if there have been any known hacks in connection to it. The top websites to use are:
- Breach Alarm: To see if you’re on a list of stolen passwords.
- Have I been pwned?: For breaches that have happened in the past, and you can setup an auto-notify.
While these are reactive, rather than proactive, free online security tools, it’s better to know after than not at all!
Free security checkups
Facebook and Google collect an ENORMOUS amount of data from you. Considering this, they have started covering their asses by offering free security checkups to their users:
These are basic things to do, but can really help the amateur sort out what they need to do well before a data breach happens.
Browser extensions and add ons
Browsers have been hyping themselves as the most secure for years. While some are better than others, many are having extensions built for them by third parties which greatly enhance their security:
- AdBlock: Yes, ads suck, but they also carry malvertising. This is why I have used Adblock for years over the advertising itself.
- NoScript: For Firefox only, it allows plugins to be executed only by trusted web sites which you choose. Bit of a pain, but worth the learning curve.
- Script Safe: This is the Google Chrome version of NoScript.
- Flashblock: Flash hiding malvertising has become as big a problem as ads. Many are actually calling for an end to Flash itself.
Blocking problems from happening in every way you can is always beneficial. While a virus tool will stop it when it gets to your computer, some of these free online security tools will stop them from ever even arriving in your browser to start with.
Use these free online security tools with a VPN & virus protection
These are all very useful tools, but it’s hard to get away with them without a VPN’s incredible encryption, and a virus protection tool. No one tool should ever be relied upon for a complete online security plan, get to work on putting a few of these together and start protecting yourself today.
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