I am currently searching a (if possible completely free security-solution for a Computer-Network of a really small private School in the USA.

The Infrastructure: Currently the school has one Server running Windows Server 2003 Small Business Version with 25 slow (7 years old - basic info: most of them with 1,6 GHZ Pentium 4, 512 MB Ram, Windows XP Professional and Internet Explorer or Firefox as StandardBrowser). Additional to this the teachers have notebooks with nearly the same specifications, which they also use at home and students use them for presentations.

Currently they don't have any Security Software except AVG Free Antivirus (old versions...) and all users (except one admin-account) have very limited access rights at the workstations.

One of the Students named the program Panda Cloud Antivirus and McAfee Site Advisor (personally I think that are great free programs) - What do you think about these Programs and what else can be used (low budget or free...) to make the complete Network much more secure? (Also they don't use a proxy server and no bad-hosts-blacklist to block access to e.g. porn website or other stuff).

I researched a bit and don't find any good and complete Solutions which don't cost to much for this school....

Thanks for every comment!


I'd use Microsoft security essentials (its free on individual systems,and fairly light) and untangle for a sitewide security setup- its a gateway server . If its a wired network, you can run untangle on a VM without any changes to your current setup.

Between the two, you should have most things covered. Untangle has a web filter, AV gateway... and a load of other things, and should run on your hardware. MSE dosen't have a very restrictive EULA, and will work as long as you have a legit copy of windows.

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  • after testing mse and especially untangle for some time, I now see that this solution is a lot better then opendns (one big reason is also that its free and it also filters bad ip addresses) - thanks! – BasisBit Mar 23 '10 at 21:09

Definitely consider using OpenDNS for web content filtering and security. The have predefined levels of security and web filtering to make your job even easier. Advanced settings allow you to display custom messages to users when a resource is blocked, view stats and access logs, among tons of other useful features.

OpenDNS is the leading provider of free security and infrastructure services that make the Internet safer through integrated Web content filtering, anti-phishing and DNS. OpenDNS services enable consumers and network administrators to secure their networks from online threats, reduce costs and enforce Internet-use policies. OpenDNS is used today by millions of users and organizations around the world. OpenDNS makes networks in homes, schools and businesses safer, faster, smarter and more reliable through Web content filtering and navigation services.

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  • This is a really good partly solution, but do you know how much it would cost for a small school to have the opendns basic plan + malware site protection? Also I would still need an Antimalware-software because of data-sources like cd, usb, email,... What do you think about this Panda Cloud Antivirus? I read that is is really good specially for schools because it needs no administration, is free and really fast. Or do you know anthing else that is free? (the school really doesn't want to spend any money for this... the head of the school really doesn't know much about computer(+security) – BasisBit Jan 27 '10 at 4:19
  • The licensing is per client. You can use the free one I believe. I personally haven't used panda cloud, as far as malware goes you may be interested in Malwarebytes ( malwarebytes.org/mbam.php ). I read somewhere that their corporate licensing options aren't too expensive. Comodo internet security is also free for commercial use: personalfirewall.comodo.com/download_firewall.html – John T Jan 27 '10 at 4:43

I have excellent experiences with Faronics DeepFreeze on school computers. Faronics offer special rates to educational facilities, IIRC the costs per machine are something like $15. Anti-Virus and Malware scans are not only time consuming, quite often they do fail and the sysadmin will have to spend a lot of time solving problems, with DeepFreeze these annoyances are a thing of the past, simply restart the computer and it will be in its pristine state. It just works.

Faronics Deep Freeze helps eliminate workstation damage and downtime by making computer configurations indestructible. Once Deep Freeze is installed on a workstation, any changes made to the computer—regardless of whether they are accidental or malicious—are never permanent. Deep Freeze provides immediate immunity from many of the problems that plague computers today—inevitable configuration drift, accidental system misconfiguration, malicious software activity, and incidental system degradation.

Deep Freeze ensures computers are absolutely bulletproof, even when users have full access to system software and settings. Users get to enjoy a pristine and unrestricted computing experience, while IT personnel are freed from tedious helpdesk requests, constant system maintenance, and continuous configuration drift.

Since the client machines are running XP, you can also use Microsoft's Windows SteadyState, a similar product which happens to be free.

Of course, it's always handy to have a 'clean' HDD image for each machine ready to be applied at a moments notice, if push comes to shove, EASEUS ToDo Backup is a free program i can recommend here.

As for safeguarding the network, recommend Vyatta which doesn't have very high system requirements and can be installed on a rather old computer:

The Vyatta Community Edition (VC) is award-winning, Linux-based, open source software providing routing, firewalling, VPN, intrusion prevention, and WAN load balancing services, among others, for your network. When you run Vyatta on a standard x86 hardware system, you'll create a powerful network appliance that can run circles around proprietary systems.

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    DeepFreeze is very useful and feature-rich, however, for a small environment, Microsoft SteadyState might be better, simply because it's free. It has similar functionality. – nhinkle Jan 27 '10 at 4:23

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