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I recently purchased ESET's AV and firewall software suite. I know it to be a respected app but when reading the license while installing they made it clear that they will collect not only information about infections on your machine but all of your installed software and settings. They then go on to vaguely promise to keep it as reasonably private as possible.

I am not the paranoid type but I really don't think it's their business to require this information, it should be an option. I'm also not exactly thrilled about the company being outside the US which means if they did violate my privacy in any intentional way I would have limited recourse. Is there a product as good as theirs that respects your privacy?

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Don't use 3rd party anti-virus. Get Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft has one of the best policies out there, and besides if you are on Windows you're using their products already.

If you absolutely can't use Microsoft's security package for some reason then I wrote up a good list describing some of the best free anti-virus software packages. Although I haven't looked at the individual policies for each one that meticulously so I can't tell you for sure whether they all collect data or not. I'd love to hear any feedback if anyone has read the policies for some of these.

Hope this helps!

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What about ClamAV or F-Spot?

These open and free solutions don't capture any information. And instead a desktop firewall you should use hardware. I mean a fine Router with packed filter or something similar.

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I like software firewall because it tells me if a rogue process is trying to connect outside my machine. Is there a better way of doing this? – CrossHatch Jan 9 '10 at 22:21

If you are concerned about an automatic process traversing all of your files and analyzing them to the last bit:

Do Not use AV software!

The vendor does not matter, because they have to do this to detect sequences of bits "somewhere" in your computer

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I'm not worried about traversing all my files, I simply don't want all my software libraries cataloged for the AV vendor's use. It should be an option. – CrossHatch Jan 9 '10 at 22:22

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