What Is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus (AV) software is designed to detect, block, and/or remove malicious software on a computer or network. AV software is an advised layer of any cybersecurity system, as it is often the first line of defense to protect the computer before the malicious software burrows too deep. It offers protection to a computer or network and helps prevent the virus or other malicious code from spreading to other devices.
Do You Really Need Antivirus Software?
Hackers don’t just make money by selling your personal information. They can use that data to buy things fraudulently. They can compromise your credit score, drain your bank account, and generally wreak havoc on your and your businesseses financial life. Adding antivirus software to your computers is the least you can do to protect yourself. Antivirus software, as a whole, measured between November 2019 and May 2020 found that having the software stopped as much as 70% of attacks.
Windows continues to fight viruses designed to exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system, and until those vulnerabilities are patched, AV software is the first line of defense.
Windows 10 is the first version to include its own AV software built into the operating system. Microsoft Defender is a good free option and offers basic protection that users don’t have to think about. But if you want something that offers specific protections, the best option is to add a paid version that covers your needs.
However, there is a long-standing misconception that computers using Mac or Apple operating systems are immune to viruses and other malicious software attacks. That was true two decades ago, but as Apple products became more popular, cybercriminals found value in designing viruses and malware for those systems. Also, increasing numbers of attacks can bypass the operating system and go directly for applications and web portals, putting every type of computer system at risk.
Other things you should consider doing to protect yourself against hacks is to install anti-malware software, using a VPN, improving your password, and setting up two-factor authentication on your devices.
What Does Antivirus Software Cost?
While there are free options out there, you get better protection and more features with a paid subscription. Paid versions offer features such as VPN, password management, and parental controls. Prices range from $20 to over $100 a year, depending on the number of licenses, number of devices you want covered, and the features you prefer.
Is It Worth Paying for Antivirus Software?
Free AV software has improved greatly over the years, and again, anyone using Windows 10 already has free AV software that works pretty well. If all you want is software that detects malicious software, blocks it from doing damage, and scans your system, then free is good. Paid versions, however, will offer protections on web browsing, protect identity, or offer VPN services, as well as password managers and parental control across multiple devices and operating systems. All of these are more essential now, as more people are working remotely or using a single device for work and personal computing.
What Is the Difference Between Antivirus Software and Antimalware?
Viruses are designed to replicate and spread, while malware is a catchall name for all types of malicious code aimed at doing damage to a computer or network. All viruses are malware, but not all malware is a virus. AV software identifies threats through signature detections based on what is already known in the signature database. This is why AV software needs to be updated regularly. Antimalware software detects more sophisticated malware attacks. The two types of defense software complement each other, and some AV software has antimalware built in, but the two are different and protection against both is necessary for true protection.
How We Chose the Best Antivirus Software
There are hundreds of antivirus software solutions available. We investigated 20 popular solutions often considered the software of choice by cybersecurity experts. Of critical importance was ease of use with all providers, making it something every consumer could navigate and use. We then considered whether or not the provider had offerings beyond antivirus software. This included malware, ransomware protection, multiple device protections. Those that had a free version or trial were given preference. We gave particular importance to platforms that were easy to use and integrate.