Computers have impacted everything in our lives, from helping students to learn and monitor patients in hospitals, and controlling critical manufacturing processes. The increased dependence on computer devices has also led to a rise in cyberthreats, such as malware, viruses and ransomware. Antivirus software is designed to spot these threats and stop their destruction of your PC or stealing your personal data.
When choosing an antivirus program be sure to consider the capabilities of its virus scanner, whether it has an firewall and how it performs in independent lab tests. You can also look at its customer service and how often it updates itself and how many devices it can protect. Certain programs, like Norton offer additional tools that can help avoid identity theft and protect your privacy online.
Top programs provide multiple security options. These include heuristic identification which identifies behaviors that are typical of malware or viruses and signature matching that compares files to a list of known malicious code. Some programs also utilize sandboxing, which separates dangerous files and puts them in a sealed virtual environment where they can’t do any harm.
A lot of the top antivirus programs are available for free, but they may not come with as many extra features as paid-for alternatives. For instance, Bitdefender’s complimentary version scored very well in our tests and has a firewall. However, its premium version includes parental controls along with a file shredder as well as a password manager. Malwarebytes, whose free version was a top performer in our AV Test for 2023, was not able to pass our usability test. Intego Mac Security X9 comes with powerful tools, including VirusBarrier and NetBarrier that was able to identify and eliminate the majority of malware threats during our test.