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5 Free Security Tools You Likely Haven’t Heard Of (But Should Install)

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You probably know that your online security is important. But are you using the right tools? Various online attacks target computers every minute of the day, and while standard antivirus tools are good, they’re not designed to cover every base.

The following free security tools will help you to improve your system and network security. You’ve probably never heard of them, but they’re vital to your ongoing online security.

Why Haven’t I Heard of These Tools?

You’re probably thinking, “I have an online security suite installed already, why do I need these tools?” The answer is simple: online security suites can’t look after every single element of your computer’s security.

Sure, they can deal with viruses, malware, firewalls, sometimes even ransomware, but overall, these tools are jacks of all trades, and master of none. Whether you use an all-encompassing online security suite or nothing at all, it’s worth installing these tools and seeing how they can help you:

  • InSpectre: Checks your PC for the Spectre bug.
  • Angry IP Scanner: Checks your network for unauthorized access and bandwidth hogs.
  • Cybereason RansomFree: Scans your PC for ransomware activity.
  • Disconnect: Monitors incoming connections to your browser.
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit: Removes dangerous rootkits, and repairs the damage they cause.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these important tools and why you should be using them in addition to whatever security tools you’re already using.

1. InSpectre

You may have already heard about the Spectre and Meltdown bugs Meltdown and Spectre Leave Every CPU Vulnerable to Attack Meltdown and Spectre Leave Every CPU Vulnerable to Attack A huge security flaw with Intel CPUs has been uncovered. Meltdown and Spectre are two new vulnerabilities that affect the CPU. You ARE affected.

What can you do about it? Read More , which are CPU-level vulnerabilities with exploits that currently remain theoretical. Not many computers are immune to these bugs Are Any Computers Not Affected by the Meltdown and Spectre Bugs? Are Any Computers Not Affected by the Meltdown and Spectre Bugs? The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilites have affected hardware around the globe. It seems like everything is insecure. But that isn’t the case.

Check out this list of secure hardware and our tips for the future. Read More , and patches and updates for your operating system can only cause things to slow down. In short, it’s a mess. While Microsoft has released its own tool for checking Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities, it’s a bit of a pain to use.

That’s where InSpectre comes in, which was “designed to clarify every system’s current situation so that appropriate measures can be taken to update the system’s hardware and software for maximum security and performance.” InSpectre is simple to use, and will tell you straight away if your CPU is vulnerable to either of the CPU bugs. Additionally, InSpectre informs you if the problem has been patched, or if an update is available.

You can even disable protection, although that would seem to be unwise unless your system is suffering from particular performance issues. If disabling helps, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware. Download: InSpectre

2.

Angry IP Scanner

With over 23 million downloads and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Angry IP Scanner is a must-have tool if you have a router in your home. Free and open source, Angry IP Scanner will scan local networks, using an IP range that you specify.

IP addresses are then pinged, and data gathered about each responding device. The results of a scan can be output to a text file (as well as XML and CSV), which may prove useful later. For instance, it will tell you what devices are on your network.

If you suspect a neighbor of “wardriving What Is That Wardriving Thing All About? What Is That Wardriving Thing All About? Read More “, you’ll have the evidence. After all, it isn’t too difficult for a neighbor to pop around and sneak a look at your network key… Note that Angry IP Scanner runs on Java, so make sure your installation of Java is up-to-date if you’re going to run this tool regularly. Java has its own security issues, which only regular updates can deal with.

Download: Angry IP Scanner

3. Cybereason RansomFree

You’ve heard of ransomware, right? It’s a nasty type of malware that locks your system, encrypts your data, and forces you to pay money if you want access to it again.

This puts everything on your computer (and perhaps your cloud storage data too Yes, Ransomware Can Encrypt Your Cloud Storage Yes, Ransomware Can Encrypt Your Cloud Storage Several ransomware variants not only attack your main hard drive, but other system drives — including cloud storage! The time has come to consider how you backup your files and where to keep them. Read More ) out of your reach. It can be potentially disastrous, particularly for anyone who has important documents or photos on their computer.

In many cases, paying the ransom will actually unlock your data as promised, but scammers don’t always play fair 7 Types of Ransomware That Will Take You by Surprise 7 Types of Ransomware That Will Take You by Surprise Ransomware always takes you by surprise, but these new types of ransomware are taking it to a higher (and more annoying) level. Read More . While some ransomware strains have been defeated with ransomware removal tools 12 Tools You Can Use to Help Beat Ransomware 12 Tools You Can Use to Help Beat Ransomware One of the biggest issues facing computer users is ransomware. And while a ransomware infection is notoriously difficult to fight, it isn’t impossible.

See how these tools can help. Read More , not all of them have–so it’s vital to stay ahead of the game. RansomFree from Cybereason “protects against 99 percent of ransomware strains,” according to the website. These include Bad Rabbit, NotPetya, and WannaCry.

Available for Windows 7 and later, RansomFree creates “canary” files which detect ransomware behavior. These are placed in areas where ransomware usually starts, and blocks ransomware from encrypting your data. Happily, it is designed to work alongside other security software.

Download: RansomFree

4. Disconnect

When you’re browsing the web, it isn’t only the sites you visit that attempt to communicate with your browser. Adverts, analytics, social networks, and more are also tracking you.

With the Disconnect browser add-on, you can find out what is tracking you, and act upon it. By visualizing and blocking sites that track you, Disconnect can make your browser 44 percent faster. More importantly, it can help you become more secure online.

While we wouldn’t encourage that you block any adverts, Disconnect can block invisible trackers that aren’t affiliated with ad networks or social networks. These are the ones you need to beware of. Disconnect features a graphical whitelisting option to ensure the content you want to see can still be downloaded.

The same screen lets you block social network, and anonymous trackers. Download: Disconnect for Chrome | Firefox | Opera | Safari (Free)

5. Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit

5 Free Security Tools You Likely Haven’t Heard Of (But Should Install)

Rootkits can be extremely dangerous What You Don’t Know About Rootkits Will Scare You What You Don’t Know About Rootkits Will Scare You If you don’t know anything about rootkits, it’s time to change that. What you don’t know will scare the hell out of you, and force you to reconsider your data security. Read More : powerful malware that can close antivirus software, give an attacker admin privileges and complete control of your system, rootkits work at the hardware level. This means that they can take control of your system BIOS, as well as the operating system.

Few solutions are available to deal with rootkits, but of those that can help, you should always start with Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit (MBAR). After installation, MBAR will scan your computer and find threats. The Cleanup button will instruct the tool to deal with any threats, which will take place while the computer reboots.

Currently listed as beta software, Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit isn’t yet fully supported by the developers. However, if you’re concerned about rootkits, this is the place to start. Download: Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit

Now That You Know of These Tools, Use Them!

Are you truly as secure as you think you are?

Your home network has vulnerabilities you don’t know about. The Spectre bug could hit your devices unexpectedly. And online activity always comes with a risk of contracting malware.

It’s overwhelming! These tools are free, straightforward to use, and can save you a lot of trouble. Install them alongside an effective VPN (such as ExpressVPN or CyberGhost) and a high-quality security suite (such as Bitdefender Internet Security) to really maximize your online security.

Image Credit: olly18/Depositphotos

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How to Restore a Lost Recycle Bin in Windows 10

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The Recycle Bin icon is your second chance on the Windows desktop. But there are times when it disappears from the desktop. It makes it difficult to restore deleted files or even empty the junk.

There are quite a few causes for it (for instance, a Windows update or another program like TweakUI might have removed the registry entry for the icon). So, here’s a solution to recover the lost Recycle Bin icon.

How to Restore the Recycle Bin Icon in Windows 10

Microsoft has a quick three-step process to bring the icon back into view.

  1. Select the Start button, then select Settings.

    Or, right-click on the desktop and choose Personalize.

  2. Select Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.
  3. Select the Recycle Bin checkbox > Apply.

But if this does not solve the problem, then there is another setting you should check before you look for more serious tweaks. Turn Off Windows 10 Tablet Mode: Your computer might be in the Tablet Mode which by its nature does not display the desktop icons including the Recycle Bin.

You have to switch them on.

  1. 1. To turn your icons back on, go to Start > Settings > System > Tablet Mode.
  2. 2. Toggle off Hide app icons on the taskbar in tablet mode and Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode.

Didn’t Work?

Create a Recycle Bin Shortcut

How to Restore a Lost Recycle Bin in Windows 10 If the above two steps do not work, then you can create a shortcut of the Recycle Bin icon. It is not the same, but you retain most of the features.

  1. Open Windows File Explorer.

    Select View > Options. Folder Options is displayed.

  2. In the Folder Options box > Click the View tab > Select Show hidden files, folders and drives and uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).
  3. Click Apply and OK.
  4. Return to File Explorer. From the right choose This PC > Open OS (C:) or C: Drive.

    Right-click £Recycle.Bin, and in the Send To menu pops up, choose Desktop (create shortcut).

The Recycle Bin is a safety net to recover a file if you deleted it accidentally. You can hide it or remove it, but it is one of those Windows files that you shouldn’t delete 5 Windows Files and Folders You Can Delete to Save Space 5 Windows Files and Folders You Can Delete to Save Space Windows contains plenty of files and folders that nobody needs. Here are five items you can clean out if you’re really hurting for disk space. Read More .

There are better candidates if you want to save space.

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