Stay Secure with Heimdal
There are stacks of antivirus, anti-malware and other security products on the market, and it’s important to have one you trust installed and working at all times. Heimdal is a little different, though. It’s a small, lightweight program that’s designed to work together with your existing antivirus program, and continually monitors any third-party software installed on your PC that might be vulnerable to hacks.
Upgrade to the paid-for Pro version and Heimdal can do even more. It analyses and blocks malicious links to keep you safe from phishing attempts, scans for and deletes malware, and checks all internet traffic to ensure that sensitive data, such as passwords and credit card details, aren’t being sent to known hacking servers. Let’s see how both the free and Pro versions of Heimdal work.
Heimdat Free is a tiny program, which you can get your hands on at https://heimdalsecurity.com. Just click the ‘Get It Now’ link, then download the file and run it. During setup, choose the option ‘I would like to use the free or currently registered version of Heimdal’ to install the free version. We’ll look at a way to try the Pro version in a bit..
When Heimdal Free starts, it’ll do a scan of your PC to look for known vulnerable programs – particularly plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, which are constantly being updated. By default it then automatically downloads updates for any that need it. Click the ‘Software’ tab to see what’s been done. There isn’t much else you can do with the Free version, so let’s go Pro.
Although the Heimdal Security website doesn’t shout about it, there’s a way to get a free month’s trial of Heimdal Pro. Click the ‘Buy Heimdal’ link. Change Country to ‘United Kingdom’ and in the Voucher field, enter ‘heirndaldemo01‘. Click Apply’ and the price changes to ‘EUR 0.00 for 1 month’. Now enter your email and click ‘Continue to download’.
The next screen displays your activation code for the free month s trial – copy and paste this and keep it somewhere safe. You’ll also see the date your trial expires. There’s no need to download the software again – your activation key works with the free version you’ve installed. Just copy and paste your key in the Go Pro’ tab of the software to activate it..
You can go to the ‘Advanced’ tab to customise Heimdal’s operation. If you didn’t want automatic download updates, but still want to know about any that are available, untick the box under ‘Update’. You can change the frequency of scans for PC checks and software updates – the default 60 minutes is a bit excessive. ‘Proxy’ and ‘Send Trace’ are advanced options for special cases.
In the ‘Malware” tab, there should be very little to see. At least, we hope so! If Heimdal does detect any known malware or ‘info stealers’ (programs that try to steal your personal details) on your PC, it will attempt to eradicate them and pop up a message to let you know. You can check out exactly what it’s done in this section..
In the ‘Modules’ tab, turn on or off parts of Heimdal. The Software’ section is similar to the options in ‘Advanced’. Having “Secure DNS‘ enabled means Heimdal can check ingoing and outgoing traffic to ensure data isn’t being sent to known phishing sites. ‘Malware Detection’ lets it look for suspicious behaviour on your PC, as well as unusual network activity.
The ‘Statistics’ tab shows you everything that Heimdal has done, including vulnerabilities detected, any software updates it has applied, and when it Last updated its own data or signatures. Click the ‘Details’ button to see a full list of all updates Heimdal has applied to itself. Above, it detected a vulnerable Flash plug-in twice, because we’ve turned off automatic updates.
Occasionally, Heimdal won’t be available to automatically update certain programs itself, particularly more complicated ones such as Flash browser players, which often need to be installed manually. In that case, you’ll see the red ’!’ icon in the ‘Software’ tab, indicating a failed update. Try to update it yourself by going to the relevant site..
Finally, the ‘License’ section (only shown in the Pro version) displays your activation key, the date your licence expires, and when the software last verified the licence over the internet. If you find Heimdal useful, you can always buy the full version after your month’s trial expires – it costs 34 euros for a year.