Computers have transformed nearly every aspect of our lives for good, from helping students study as well as monitoring patients in hospitals and controlling critical manufacturing processes. The increasing dependence on computers and devices has also led to an increase in cyber-attacks, like malware, viruses and ransomware. Antivirus software can detect these threats to keep them from damaging your computer or stealing personal information.
When choosing an antivirus program, it is important to think about its virus-scanning capabilities, if it has a fire wall, as well as how it performs on independent laboratory tests. You might also want to look at its customer support, the frequency it updates itself and the number of devices it can safeguard. Some programs, like Norton, have additional features that help safeguard your privacy online and prevent identity theft.
Top programs provide multiple security options. These include heuristic detection which identifies behaviors that are typical of viruses or malware and signature matching that compares files against a list of known malicious code. Some programs use sandboxing to block suspicious files in a virtual environment that is secured and in a safe place where they are not able to do any harm.
A few of the top antivirus software is available for download. However, they may not offer the same features as paid-for alternatives. For instance, Bitdefender’s complimentary version scored excellently in our tests and has a firewall. However, its premium version includes parental controls, a file shredder and a password manager. Malwarebytes, whose free version was a top performer in our AV Test for 2023, failed our usability test. Intego Mac Internet Security X9, however, has a solid combination of tools (VirusBarrier and NetBarrier) that caught and killed the majority of malware threats during our test.