Security Basics: Anti-Virus, VPN and Firewall

There are three important things you need to stay safe online: an anti-virus, a VPN and a firewall. You probably already have a firewall as windows comes with one already installed. Anti-virus software refers to a variety of different programmes for protecting your computer from malware and helping your remove malware if it infects your system.

Security Basics:Anti-Virus, VPN and Firewall

Choosing an anti-virus can be difficult because they’re are so many options. We recommend Avira as the best anti-virus to protect your computer from malware.

You might wonder why you need a VPN if you already have anti-virus and a firewall: Free public wifi is everywhere and a major security risk, concerns about online privacy are growing and the internet is becoming increasingly restricted. They’re just some of the reasons why VPNs are growing in importance.

Together these programmes form a three pronged approach, each complimenting the other and giving you security.

But do you know how the programmes work and what they protect you from?


You probably don't pay much attention to your firewall, since most people are happy to use the one present on their system. Firewalls started out to protect network communications, to stop unauthorised access. They're now in widespread use for personal computers to stop unauthorised programmes running or other intrusions.

You may not notice your firewall running but occasionally as new programmes are installed it will prompt you to approve the programme. If a programme is deemed risky it will limit that programmes functionality. You can also download Firewalls or they come as an extra feature to anti-virus software.


Initially made just to prevent viruses but as the threat of malware has expanded so have anti-virus programmes to respond to new threats. Anti-virus software is able to detects viruses, because viruses have a signature. Heuristics observes a programmes behaviour for patterns similar to previous malware and may isolate or block programmes it believes are malware. That's why it's so important to update your anti-virus regularly, as each update contains new virus signatures.

There is a massive market of different anti-virus software available, some focusing on different things such as scanning downloads or internet activity to protect against malicious sites. We at ZenMate recommend Avira which offers both browser and desktop protection with an easy to use interface that won’t slow down your system.

Virtual private network (VPN)

VPNs are a rapidly growing addition to cyber-security. People are clearly becoming more aware of the benefits of VPNs as the number of VPN users is growing at about 25% a year. Not all VPNs are the same, some are only basic services that enable internet users to unblock content with no further added protection. VPNs can also encrypt your internet traffic hiding you activities from snoopers and improving your security everywhere on the internet. There are many companies offering VPNs and it's important to find a trustworthy company as your data will be passing through their servers. Be sure to check their privacy policy and do some research before choosing a VPN provider.

A good VPN like ZenMate encrypts all your traffic securing you connections and doesn't log customer data and is still useful for unblocking

Together a VPN and anti-virus provide comprehensive protection. A good VPN like ZenMate protects your privacy by hiding your IP and encrypting all your internet traffic making it difficult for cyber-criminals to target you. A good anti-virus like Avira monitors your system to protect against malicious software or files, it will scan your system and remove any files that are identified as malware. As well as browser extension to protect your online activities.

Together ZenMate and Avira work great, providing excellent security with an easy to use interface and minimal system impact.