Which antivirus should I use?

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If you’re alarmed by all the news reports about malware attacks and the damage they cause, you’re not alone. And if you’re wondering how you can protect yourself against these attacks and asking yourself “which antivirus should I use?”, you’re not alone there either. The first question is easily answered; the best way to defend your data against malware is by installing antivirus (AV) software. The second question, however, requires a little longer explanation; let’s get started.

First, look for AV software with a high malware detection rate. Most antivirus software promise a 100% detection rate, although that figure varies depending upon whether the AV is run online or offline. The point here is that you shouldn’t settle for a detection rate that is less than 100%. That said, it’s also important that the AV software has a low rate of false positives, (files that are incorrectly flagged as malicious), as you don’t want your safe files falsely identified as malware and then removed.

A light system load is also important especially for older PCs, which are the most vulnerable. Most AV software have trial offers, so you can test it before purchasing. The trials are great way to check that the AV doesn’t cause your system to perform sluggishly. 

Your AV software should also provide real-time, comprehensive protection. This means it should protect you from both known and zero-day or unknown malware. Detection of known malware threats relies on a database of virus signatures, so it’s important that the signature database be regularly updated with the latest virus signatures and that the AV software itself be updated so it’s using the latest virus database. Detection of unknown or emerging threats relies on different technologies such as heuristics, sandbox, or behavioral detection. Rather than relying on a database of known virus signatures, these types of detection look for unexpected behaviors in a program, and in this way are able to detect zero-day threats.  

Still another important security feature is browsing protection, which stops you from navigating to malicious links where you can be tricked into giving away personal information.  Similarly, protection from phishing attacks, which try to get you to click on malicious links or download infected files is also an important security feature. 

Finally, look for AV software that provides ransomware protection. Ransomware is one of the most pernicious of malware and can cause mountains of financial and reputational damage. AV software that protects you against ransomware stops ransomware from being downloaded and prevents your data from being encrypted.