Computers have changed almost every aspect of our lives in every aspect, from helping students learn while in hospitals, to monitoring patients and regulating crucial manufacturing processes. This increased dependence on computer gadgets has also brought a rise in cyberthreats, such as viruses, malware and ransomware. Antivirus software is designed to recognize these threats and prevent them from causing harm to your PC or stealing your personal data.
When you are choosing an antivirus program take into consideration the capabilities of its virus scanner and whether it comes with an firewall and how it does in independent laboratory tests. You might also want consider its customer support, the frequency it updates and the number of devices it will protect. Certain programs, like Norton come with additional features that help you prevent identity theft and protect your privacy online.
The top software providers offer various options for protection that include heuristic detection, that looks for patterns of behavior typical of malware or viruses and signature matching, which compares files against a list of known malicious software. Some programs employ sandboxing in order to separate suspicious files from an environment that is sealed and where they cannot do any harm.
A lot of the top antivirus software is available for free, but they may not include as many additional features as paid versions. For example, Bitdefender’s free edition scored well in our tests and includes a firewall, whereas its premium version includes parental controls as well as a file shredder. It also has a password manager. Malwarebytes, whose free version was a top performer in our AV Test for 2023, did not pass our usability test. Intego Mac Security X9 offers powerful tools which include VirusBarrier and NetBarrier. They detected and eliminated the most malware threats we tested.