Ex-Netscaper scopes out free security tools

Using the pseudonym "Fyodor," a software engineer keeps a running list of the 75 most popular security freeware programs based on user surveys.

If free security tools are what you're after, Fyodor has a list for you.

"Fyodor" is the nom de guerre of a former Netscape software engineer from Mountain View, Calif., who created Insecure.org, a carefully organized site that offers descriptions and links to the 75 most popular security tools available based on user surveys.

Fyodor is also the creator of the Nmap security scanner, which was not included in the list of 75 tools -- in the interest of objectivity -- because the user

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surveys were conducted from an Nmap mailing list. The tool, which is a popular free security scanner for Windows and Linux, is available on the site, however.

The list has provided some insight into emerging trends over the years. For example, the most recent list shows an increase in the number of tools for conducting wireless security audits, he said. There is also a growing number of Windows security tools on the list too. And tools that were once only available for Unix are also expanding to Windows, said Fyodor, who states on his site that his list "is slightly biased toward 'attack' tools rather than defensive ones."

Insecure.org began in 1996 and today gets somewhere between 2 million to 3 million page views a month. Fyodor updates his list a few times a year by surveying his mailing list of 17,000 Nmap users and asking them to name their favorite security tools.

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