10 Free OSS Security Applications That You Can Trust

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 28, 2008

Many users of open source software point to the fact that their applications and platforms are more secure than proprietary alternatives simply because they aren't such obvious targets for malware distribution. As just one example, the Standish Group recently completed a survey in which 70 percent of respondents said Red Hat Linux is less vulnerable to security threats than Windows. Still, it's good to protect yourself with top-notch security applications, and LinuxPlanet has an excellent list of 75 good choices. Here, I'll round up 10 of my favorite choices from their list and discuss what these applications can do for you.

Nixory is an OS independent open source anti-spyware application for Firefox. It's written in Python and PyGTK, and although Firefox does a reasonable job of blocking spyware on its own, this application is worth running for added protection.

Waste is a tool you can use for anonymous, secure and encrypted collaboration with others online. You can keep both chat and downloads secure. Waste's feature set is most robust on Windows, but Linux and Mac users can get adequate functionality for many tasks.

ClamWin Free Antivirus is without a doubt the best open source antivirus product for Windows users. It performs the same types of scans that many popular proprietary products do, and gets regular attention from its developers. Regular updates are the key to keeping an antivirus product robust, and this application gets them.

Clam AV is based on the Clam Antivirus engine, and is a good solution for Unix- and Linux-based users who want to regularly scan e-mail gateways for possible malware.

Eraser solves the pesky problem of remnants or whole copies of files that you've deleted sticking around on your system. It nukes them entirely. It's for Windows users.

Windows and Linux users should look into PeaZip, a free archiver utility that handles almost all archive and compression formats. You can filter archives and much more.

Especially if you work from public Wi-Fi hotspots, where the ease with which you can be hacked is elevated, you should use virtual private network (VPN) software. The king of the hill in open source VPNs remains OpenVPN. It's very easy to use and runs on all popular platforms.

Are you overwhelmed by the number of passwords you have to manage? Hand off the problem to KeePass Password Safe. It runs on all popular platforms, including mobile platforms, where it's handy to have a password manager. It encrypts your passwords and lets you unlock them with one touch. This is good to keep on a USB key.

Network Security Toolkit is actually an amalgamation of many open source applications for securing a network. It's based on Fedora, but is OS independent and will run on most x86 platforms without a hitch. It does intrusion detection, wireless network monitoring, and more.

Many users of encryption software gripe about how difficult the applications are to use. Axcrypt rebels against this state of affairs. It's for Windows users, and you can simply right-click on a file to encrypt it, and double-click the file to decrypt it. This is one of the best tools for simple encryption and is good for, say, keeping the files you have on your portable USB key encrypted and quickly decrypting them.

Do you have any favorite open source security applications?