The Price of Freeware
Over the years, there has been an increase in free software, also known as freeware. More developers are making their software available to the public, where anyone can access it on the internet. Though it has proven to be beneficial for a variety of users, there are also many vulnerabilities that have yet to be revealed.
The Benefits of Freeware
Since freeware does not cost any monetary amount, more people are saving money on software. Without freeware, every software used would have to come with a price, large or small. Eventually, these prices could add up and cost hundreds if not thousands. With accessible freeware, people can save money on some of the software that they use since they do not need to pay for it. For example, many antivirus software companies allow their software to be downloaded and implemented at no cost, but there tends to be a price that the users are not aware of.
The Problems with Freeware
Despite the many benefits of freeware, there is more background activity in freeware
that users are not aware of. Since freeware does not cost any money, the security
of the software tends to be weaker than other commercial software that comes with
security built-in. With a weaker defense, freeware is more susceptible to adware,
spyware or malicious code such as viruses, worms or so-called Trojan horses. These
threats could attach to the software when downloaded from the internet and get inside
your computer and attack the computer as well as steal and/or delete important personal
Many people in this information age do not realize the dangers of the online world. Since people find the internet so easily accessible and convenient, they tend to forget that the online world is not any safer than the real world. Due to user negligence, there have been many instances of hacking and stolen information that have occurred, some of which could have been prevented with more care and attention. In situations such as these, it would have been more cost-effective to purchase the commercial software, rather than the freeware because of the security capability differences. Once the damage has been done, it can become irreversible or cost more than the commercial software to fix and recover the lost information.
Safety Measures When Using Freeware
Because of these problems, experts recommend that users research the company before
downloading on any software, free or commercial. Moreover, in many cases, it is safer
to use commercial software that may cost you a few hundred, but in the long run will
save you from losing valuable data that may cost you more. One thing you can look
for is an official seal. Some companies participate in verification programs, such
as TRUSTe, BBB Online, and WebTrust, that verify that the software is legitimate and
display the seal in order to show proof that their software is safe for usage. Once
you have confirmed the legitimacy of the software and have downloaded it for use,
you must keep the software up to date. Besides the legitimacy of the software, companies
of commercial software periodically send out updates for their software that include
bug fixes and security patches that your software may need in order to prevent any
future problems. Using an outdated version of your software makes the software more
vulnerable to attacks and risks you losing important data and files.
Sources: “The Real Cost of Free: #30SecTech Video” by Norton (https://community.norton.com/en/blogs/norton-protection-blog/real-cost-free-30sectech-video)
Information Technology Pathway
Robert Turner College and Career High School
Intern - Cyber Security Institute, University of Houston-Clear Lake