Computer Security & Viruses/Payments security


Hi Carolyn,
I hope you're doing well.
I have the free Avast anti-virus in addition to malwarebytes anti-exploit.The free version of Avast does not protect online payments. I searched for free software that can protect online payments and found those:
smart hide ip is the only one I found reviews on. Anyways,is smart hide ip enough or should I download the version of Avast that protects payments? The vast majority of my online payments are on

Smart Hide IP, even if it works as advertised, will do nothing to protect your online payment/credit card data.

It is advertised as a way to prevent a website from being able to record information about where your computer is located. I rather doubt that it really does this, but even if it does work, so what? The website where you use a credit card, Paypal etc. doesn't need to know your IP address. A computer criminal who wants to steal your online payment data doesn't need to know your IP address. He or she could instead infect your computer with a snooping program and watch your activities and steal you online payment information.

If for any reason you do wish to hide your IP address, and want a solution that is free, you should use Tor instead. To learn more about Tor, see However, even better is to use a VPN, but this costs money. Since you don't need to hide your IP when making online payments, I don't recommend paying for use of a VPN.

Now, back to your question about protecting online payments. A good Internet security program will keep criminals from installing snooping programs on your computer. They will alert you if the website where you are making an online payment does not protect your data with SSL encryption. It will alert you to sites that may be run by criminals.

I don't know of any free security software that will do all of this. This is because people like to work at paying jobs. The money you pay for a high quality Internet security program is used to pay the salaries of the people who produce and constantly update these security programs. Are they going to quit their jobs and move into their parent's basements so they can work on improving free Internet security software?

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Carolyn Meinel


I cover Windows, Linux, TCP/IP and Ethernet security questions. I do not cover Mac, smart phones, or other networking issues.


Books by Carolyn Meinel: wrote a chapter for The Hacking of America book (see My article Code Red for the Web for Scientific American was reprinted in the book Best American Science Writing 2002 (see My book The Happy Hacker: A Guide to Mostly Harmless Hacking is now in 4th edition with a Japanese edition (see


See a list with some online links at

MS, Industrial Engineering, The University of Arizona Took a course in computer forensics at the University of Texas at Austin/

Past/Present Clients
DARPA, SAIC, Palmer Labs

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