Antivirus software is essential for any computer. No matter whether you’re looking for a great antivirus for your business computer or at home, there are some features that you can’t go without.
In this guide to finding the top antivirus software, we’re going to cut through the jargon that often confuses non-technical people when looking at antivirus technology.
We’ll consider the features that you can’t be without and explain why they’re so important. Are you ready to learn more? Then let’s get started!
Multiple Protection Modules
Some security software will only let you run manual scans, rather than proactively scanning new files as they are created on your computer. This isn’t good enough: few people remember to scan their computer as often as they should do, which means that using scan-only antivirus software will compromise your protection.
If you want to get a very good level of security, your antivirus should be proactively scanning files that your computer is using. However, some antivirus software takes this a step further. For instance, some antivirus programs will scan your email, your browser, and check for rootkits (malware that gives its creators a high degree of control over your machine and is hard to get rid of).
When you’re perusing different brands of antivirus software in 2021, make sure that it has all the protection modules that you need. Do not settle for second best.
Heuristics Is Essential
Cybercriminals make thousands upon thousands of new pieces of malware every day. This means that due to how antivirus works, keeping your computer safe from brand-new threats can be tricky.
When your antivirus software scans a file, it will check the file against a master list of “signatures” or “definitions.” This is a list of known malware. However, brand-new malware won’t feature in this list of signatures right away.
This is where heuristics comes in. Heuristics is a type of analysis that allows your antivirus software to spot malicious software even if it’s brand new. While no heuristics system will detect all new malware, it will give you a much better chance to spot new malware than if you were only relying on definitions.
Ensure It Updates Automatically
You can update your antivirus whenever you like but doing it manually shouldn’t be something that you ever have to think about. The best antivirus software will update itself automatically.
Keeping up to date is of the utmost importance. As we mentioned earlier, many new pieces of malware emerge every single day. This means that if you don’t update your antivirus for a week, you’ll be lacking the signatures of millions of pieces of malware.
This is not a sustainable position. Make sure that your antivirus updates regularly without you having to do it.
What Happens If It Finds Malware?
Different types of antivirus software take different approaches when they find malware. Some will delete it automatically while others will quarantine it and ask you what you want to do.
If you’re technically-minded, the latter is better. This is because not every piece of malware that your antivirus finds will actually be malware. They may be false positives, which could cause your programs or computer to stop functioning if you delete them.
However, if you’re not technically-minded, you may prefer the first approach, even if it comes with a few extra stability risks. You may make the wrong decision and let malware back onto your computer where it could cause chaos.
Does It Include a Firewall?
If you’d like to have one convenient package that covers all of your internet security, you may wish to invest in a type of antivirus software that comes with its own firewall.
These third-party firewalls tend to offer easier customization than Windows’ built-in firewall or other built-in firewalls, which you may find helpful.
A firewall, for those who don’t know, regulates network traffic as it comes in and goes out of your computer. You need to allow your programs internet access while restricting other programs and blocking hackers.
If you want to get deep into firewall customization, a third-party firewall is your best bet.
Will It Encrypt Your Files?
You need to practice great data security, especially if you’re handling sensitive data like credit card information. Even if you’re only dealing with your own information, you still deserve that extra protection.
Security software often comes with an encryption module that will encode your data. If you want to access it, you need the password. So long as you don’t store that password on the computer itself, you’ve got a great deal of protection for your data.
While not everyone will want this feature, it’s something to consider when you’re shopping around.
You might think that malware only wants to infect your computer’s hard drive. While this is the case for most malware, there are some kinds of malware that will be happy to ignore your hard drive and focus on other parts of your computer like your webcam or microphone.
If it can turn these on and access them at will, that malware could cause serious privacy issues or eavesdrop on you. If you ever discuss your passwords around your computer, that malware will let a hacker know.
This means that you should opt for antivirus software that will block access to these components and prevent hacks.
Finding the Best Antivirus Software
It can seem difficult to find the best antivirus software, but it isn’t. When you know the essential features that you need, like those that we’ve laid out here, you’ll be able to shop with more certainty and knowledge, letting you find the perfect software for you.
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