Free Windows security tools every admin must have

I'm a big advocate of using software to take some of the effort out of the daily pains of managing Windows – especially if the tools are free.

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Top free tools for server administration

Powerful performance monitoring tools you should be using

Automating tasks or at least taking some of the hands-on effort out of the equation allows you to focus on other security issues in your Windows environment, like keeping up with all the patches Microsoft keeps releasing these days. Free tools can even allow you to do things you wouldn't be able to justify otherwise. In turn, you end up with a more secure network and everyone wins. Now, whether they actually know or care is a different issue…

Since security and limited budgets are all the rage these days, here's a set of free Windows server security tools you need to check out. While to think there's life beyond the Sysinternals tools might seem unimaginable, there are indeed other tools available that can make your life a whole lot simpler,-- and as with Sysinternals, they won't cost you a dime.

Data backup, recovery, and destruction tools

  • Cobian Backup – backup software for those who have had it with Windows Backup and the commercial alternatives
  • Eraser – secure deletion for when the time comes to toss out those old drives
  • KillDisk – an alternative option for secure deletion
  • Recuva (Piriform) – data recovery for when you accidentally delete your Exchange Server Public folders

Malware protection tools

  • ClamWin – virus scanner so you can (finally) get some protection on your Windows servers

Monitoring, reporting and search tools

  • EventTracker Pulse (Prism Microsystems) – search engine for log data so you can gain insight into what's happening on your Windows systems and other devices
  • OSSIM – security information management you can use for security anomaly detection, event correlation, and more (runs via VMware )
  • Paglo Crawler – search engine, monitoring, and reporting so you can gain insight into your IT assets such as network hosts and applications

Scanning and analysis tools

  • Angry IP Scanner – network scanner you can use to monitor your hosts and determine when rogue systems have joined the network and users are doing things they shouldn't be doing
  • WireShark – the free network analyzer everyone loves – yet so many still haven't heard of – that can be used to troubleshoot network and application problems

Testing tools

  • ReactOS – a binary-compatible OS to Windows based on XP and Server 2003 that can be used to test Windows applications, security tools, and so on
  • VirtualBox – virtual machine software you can use for testing new versions of Windows, patches, security tools, and more before you put them into production

If you want to browse for more free Windows security admin tools, be sure to stay in touch with SourceForge. It's the central repository of all things open source. It has over 230,000 open source projects and thousands upon thousands of downloads each day.

Who said open source isn't relevant?

Kevin Beaver, is an information security consultant, keynote speaker and expert witness with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments. Kevin has authored/co-authored seven books on information security, including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley). He's also the creator of the Security on Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. Kevin can be reached at  kbeaver@principlelogic.com.

This was first published in August 2009

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