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Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

The Bitdefender Antivirus sets the gold standard in the free antivirus space! For starters, it is easy to use, and offers solid protection without any restrictions and no charge at all. The icing on the cake is its real time protection, which blocks threats as they appear, and simultaneously identifies new and undiscovered threats. For a free antivirus download, Bitdefender threat protection surprisingly even comes with web filtering capabilities, which is a premium feature that monitors your browsing activity, and blocks access to malicious, phishing and fraudulent websites.

Key Features of Bitdefender Antivirus

  • Award winning protection for existing or new threats
  • Easy to use and blazingly fast
  • Real time threat protection
  • Virus scanning and malware removal
  • Anti-fishing and Anti-fraud protection

The Bitdefender free antivirus is powered by a traditional scanning engine that searches for the digital signatures of known malware. Additionally, its onsite heuristic monitor watches out for suspicious malware behavior in an effort to identify brand new attacks. These suspicious codes when detected are uploaded to the Bitdefender Cloud Center to be perused by the experts, who then release countermeasures for the potential threats to over 500 million systems protected by the software.

The downside of the Bitdefender free antivirus for Windows is that it does collect data about your system to analyze different types of malware, but this is an option that can be unchecked during the installation process. In terms of ease of use, the Bitdefender free antivirus offers a barebones user interface that features a button to launch a full system scan, a settings button and a dedicated area for you to drop a file or folder to be scanned.

The Settings area of the Bitdefender Antivirus follows suit with an Events tab that serves as a program log, an exclusion tab to exclude falsely flagged files from detection, and a quarantine section that lists the quarantined files. There’s even a Protection tab to temporarily turn the Bitdefender antivirus off, and a system tray that keeps things simple with a single menu item—“Show”.

Other features you miss out with the Bitdefender free antivirus include File Shredder, Vulnerability Scan, Safe Files, Firewall, File Encryption, Parental Advisor, Webcam Protection, Password Manager and Online Banking Protection. If you do however feel the need for the aforementioned features, upgrading to the class leading Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018 is always an option.

The Bitdefender Antivirus Plus edition is possibly the best antivirus for Windows but has a few limitations. This slightly stripped down version does not offer few features like Webcam Protection, Firewall, File Encryption etc.,

For an accurate and reliable antivirus that offers industry leading protection against threats and one that is easy to use at no cost, the Bitdefender free antivirus won’t disappoint.

Why Antivirus Software Is As Important Today As Ever

Why Antivirus Software Is As Important Today As Ever

I sometimes have to remind myself that things have changed since the ‘90s. In particular, this is true with companies like Microsoft. In my mind, Windows is the same monster it was back then, crashing regularly and frustrating us with blue screens. MS Office is the cumbersome software package that no one on earth can afford. I use a Macbook now, so I don’t have the opportunities to overhaul those associations.

And the same is certainly true with antivirus software. I still struggle to see antivirus software as a relic of the early days of the internet. I expect it to slow down my computer, while only vaguely giving me an idea of what it’s doing.

The cult of Apple doesn’t help. Apple presents itself as the natural evolution of computing, rather than just another brand on the market. They’ve admittedly done an excellent job of keeping virus attacks on their systems to a minimum. In the process, they’ve allowed us to see antivirus software as superfluous at best, harmful at worst.

But these days, going without antivirus software is asking for trouble. Today, it is more important than ever to cover all of your bases.

Antivirus software has evolved

Firstly, it’s important to point out that antivirus software has evolved. It is no longer the drain on the system that it once was. Some of the old names might put you off, so take a look at this TotalAV review to see what a newer alternative can offer.

It’s relatively cheap, simple to use, and doesn’t slow your computer to the point that you wish for a virus in its place.

And you’ll want to consider getting antivirus software immediately if you don’t have it already. The following should convince you why.

International cyber attacks

It’s no secret that certain countries are using cyber attacks to manipulate political systems throughout the world. Even the US president agrees 50% of the time that Russia influenced the election that brought him to power.

They use covert means like spreading fake news over Facebook and influencing opinions using Facebook groups.

But their attacks are not limited to campaigns to influence opinion. They’re increasingly causing chaos by sending out targeted viruses. A cyber virus that first surfaced in Ukraine recently spread throughout the world. While it was, on the surface, an attempt at extortion, it seemed the real reasons behind the attack were more malicious. It appears that the virus was meant to cause chaos, breaking down systems and harming businesses.

The important point to take out of this is that over the next few years, we can expect cyber attacks to only get worse. Rather than hackers causing trouble or making a bit of money, governments are going to be targeting people and businesses for reasons with far more gravity.

Antivirus software is not what it once was, and neither is the threat of viruses. The threat is far greater now, and it is prudent, to say the least, to protect yourself. Go for one of the new names if you feel uncomfortable with the old favorites of the past. It is well worth it.

Best Free Antivirus 2018 for Windows PC

Best Free Antivirus 2018 for Windows PC

We all are familiar with the medical term “virus”, which is a type of infection that can be seen in the human body. Similarly, there are also viruses that affect the computer systems that we use as well. A computer virus is a piece of code that can be injected or programmed into various software’s and other tools that we use on our computers on a daily basis. These computer viruses are malicious codes that when gets into a computer system, can modify the entire settings of your personal computer remotely, thus making your computer respond in random ways or even give some third party access to online hackers as well.

As the years have passed and the innovation on the technology front have reached an advanced phase than ever before, the threats possessed by computer viruses and other potentially harmful threats to your computer system have not decreased. Instead, the intensity of the consequences that such harmful viruses or malware can cause in our daily lives has increased very much.

In today’s world, all our activity is done online, and all of our very sensitive information including our very own personal information, bank account credentials and other official data are saved somewhere or the other over the internet. Therefore, the risks of a potential remote hijack of our sensitive information have also risen.

If you thought that computer virus and other malicious threats that were a headache to computer users a few years back does not make any sense in this modern age of technology, then you are wrong. Popular antivirus service providers such as Symantec and Bitdefender regularly releases an online documentation of the latest threats that can be harmful to your computer system and threats that have been recorded, analyzed and removed by their own antivirus software. Therefore, if you own a computer and does not have antivirus software installed on your system, then the best time to install an antivirus software for your personal, as well as an official computer, is right now!

How Does an Antivirus Software Work?

Ever wondered how antivirus software works?

Well, basically an antivirus software is always running in the background of your computer system, even if not visible to you. When you open a file no matter from within your computer’s hard disk or from an external source, the antivirus software scans the entire contents of the file that you just opened with a huge database of details on the potential virus and other malware threats. In case any of the file that you are currently viewing or just opened matches with the data on the database that contain details on the viruses, you are immediately warned of the same with suggestions on how you keep your computer system clear of any infections or attacks by safely removing those infected files from the system.

Even when your computer is idle, the antivirus software installed on your computer makes scheduled automatic scans throughout the entire computer to find any preexisting virus or other malware that may have escaped the primary scanning by the antivirus software.

Why Should You Not Use a Pirated Antivirus Software?

Well, these features on an antivirus software do come at a cost. And what many among us do is to find some cracked or pirated version of any random antivirus software online, and then download and install it on our computer. Such pirated antivirus software lacks many of the premium virus scans and removes features that only officially recorded purchases have, and many a time, the case is that the infectious piece of virus or malware are ironically attached to such cracked antivirus software that we end up installing on our own computers.

Moreover it is very important that we buy and use only the latest version of the antivirus software which is available out there, and that too only from popular, largely opted and best brands out there so that we get the latest and best type of defense against all the possible threats that may end up harming your computer system.

What Are the Most Important Features that Antivirus Software Must Have?

As mentioned above, all of our lives in today’s worlds are in the online world, and the risks of identity and data thefts that happen online are at its maximum nowadays. Hence it is more important for the latest antivirus software’s to provide safety from online data and identity thefts that may happen to anyone.

There are many features that the latest antivirus software provides its users with. However, if you are unaware of what the latest antivirus software must have in order to protect your computer from any kinds of harmful attacks, then below are some of the features that you must make sure that the latest antivirus software that you are about to buy has.

  • Malware Protection:
    The first and the most basic feature that any kind of antivirus protection that you buy is protection from malware that can infect your computer system. In current times, malware protection is not just limited to virus protection but also protection from other threats such as Spywares, Adware, Trojans etc.
  • Complete Protection for your Online Activities:
    Nowadays, potential threats to your data or computer do not appear in the form of some software. Rather these harmful codes are injected to the various websites and other online pages that you may visit intentionally or not. Hence it is also important that if you are planning to buy antivirus in 2018, it has a complete protection over all the activities that happen within the web browser on your computer. Latest antivirus software in 2018 should also be able to protect you from any kind of phishing activities as well.
  • Consumer Awareness on the Latest Threats Out There:
    Unlike in older times, when there was a limit on what you could actually do with a computer system. Just protection against potential harms and threats out there is not enough today. The antivirus software 2018 version that you are about to purchase today must also be able to send you regular awareness on what the latest forms of security and data threats are out there along with details on how you can stay protected from any of these attacks that may compromise your identity or any secure information that you may possess.

Best Free Antivirus 2018 for Windows PC

If you are currently using a PC powered by the Windows operating system, and if you are confused on whether the free antivirus software options that are available these days are of any use, then do not worry. You are not the only one with this question in mind and in fact we have been receiving a lot of queries on the free antivirus 2018 software available for Windows PC out there and also to suggest some of the best free antivirus software for Windows PC in 2018.

Among all the free antivirus software’s available online for free that supports the Windows operating system, there is some really functional and user-friendly antivirus software that can really help you protect yourself against any kind of threats that can harm and compromise the security of your computer.

So taking all the queries into consideration, today we are here with a detailed list of the best free antivirus 2018 software’s that are available for the Windows operating system currently.

1. AVG Free Antivirus for 2018:

The AVG Antivirus is one of the best free antivirus software you can find for the Windows operating system in 2018. The antivirus solution from AVG has been making it to the best free antivirus list from almost every publisher out there for many years now.

One of the main reasons that make the AVG antivirus so popular is that it is being used and trusted by millions of users around the globe. And not just their user statistics, the features and functionality provided by the AVG antivirus also prove why they are often crowned the best antivirus solution available.

As said above, an antivirus software should have much more in today’s time than just virus protection in order to make it the best in the world. Well, apart from regular virus protection, the AVG antivirus software also gives you separately downloadable add-ons that will offer you features such as Email and Web Browser monitor clients, so that you need not waste the disk space on your computer by having these features, in case you already have a better client doing the same functionality for you.

Compared to the previous versions of the AVG antivirus software, what makes the latest AVG antivirus 2018 better is that even though you got regular antivirus updates within the previous versions, a change to the latest set of features offered by AVG would require you to uninstall the current version that you are using and install the latest antivirus version from AVG.

However, in the latest version, that is the 2018 version of AVG free antivirus software, you always have the most updated and latest version of the AVG antivirus software, no matter in terms of updated protection or updated set of features. Apart from that, the new 2018 AVG antivirus software has an updated user interface that makes it quite easier compared to previous versions to scan your computer for threats such as malware and unwanted browser toolbars or extensions, hidden files. And the latest 2018 release of AVG antivirus also lets you block unsafe or infected file downloads even before you try downloading them to your computer.

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2. Avira Antivirus Free 2018

The latest 2018 free antivirus software option from Avira is yet another globally popular free antivirus software currently. Avira is developed by a German-based lab and has an experience of protecting computers and other devices from all kind of potential threats out there for over 30 years now. Avira claims to be detecting and handling about 30 million threats on a daily basis. And the popularity of the Avira antivirus is quite clear, thanks to the over 100 million active users that Avira has globally. To take the free security services offered by Avira to a whole new level, they are now introducing what is claimed to be the first ever complete suite of security services for free.

The latest free Avira antivirus software 2018 includes advanced features such as protection against ransomware, which is a data hostage type of malware that Avira says is the most growing malware out there currently. The latest Avira antivirus 2018 suite edition also lets you keep your system optimized by fixing issues on your computer’s memory management, for maximum performance. Apart from the set of features that you will be enjoying on downloading the latest Avira antivirus suite 2018, Avira also ensures that you will also be among the first customers to receive any future updates in terms of security and features that they will roll out for free.

Another cool feature of the latest Avira antivirus suite 2018 is that it also helps you block any kind of surveillance on your online activity by masking your IP address using the Avira Phantom VPN service. This will help you access websites that are restricted in your country, or simply block advertisement agencies from accessing your location data. However, the bandwidth for the Avira Phantom VPN service in the free suite is limited to 500MB per month.

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3. Avast Free Antivirus 2018

Easily one of the top 3 contenders that can be called the best antivirus software available out there. The Avast antivirus free 2018 software is also one among the most trusted antivirus client for the Windows operating system.
What makes the Avast antivirus quite popular out there is that the antivirus client from Avast is quite lightweight when compared to other antivirus software’s, thus saving up disk space and resources of your computer. Avast has also been awarded the antivirus with the least impact on the performance of your computer. In the latest 2018 free version of the Avast antivirus, they have introduced the Nitro update which moves much of the malware analysis into the cloud, thus making the Avast Antivirus 2018 free software even lighter in terms of storage space and more efficient in terms of overall performance. The latest CyberCapture feature takes notice of an unknown type of files that you may come across while you are online browsing and then sends it to the Avast labs for real-time analysis.

IoT or Internet of Things is the latest technology advancement out there and potentially the most dangerous one for any kind of malicious attacks as well. Well, with the latest free 2018 antivirus software, Avast has you covered with all the smart electronics that you have in your home connected to the same home network.

Other features of the latest Avast antivirus 2018 edition include improved and more sophisticated malware protection along with protection on all your browser activities. It also lets you clean all the unwanted browser extensions and toolbars that may be affecting the performance of your web browser or compromising your online privacy.

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4. Panda Antivirus Free 2018

Yet another top-rated antivirus solution out there is the Panda Antivirus software. What makes the Panda antivirus software one of the best free antivirus software out there is that it is quite light. Similar to the Avast Antivirus software mentioned above, Panda also has most of its work saved in the cloud storage so as to take the load off your computer hard drive. This helps to free up the resources of your computer and thus keeping the performance of your computer at level best, compared to the other antivirus software available out there.

The Panda antivirus software solution also offers updated and most cutting-edge security against all kinds of malware attacks and threats that your computer may come across. And the most salient feature of the Panda antivirus being that all the updates to the antivirus software happen seamlessly in the background without making you notice or bothering you off what you are doing.


5. Bitdefender Free Antivirus 2018

Last but not the least is the Bitdefender antivirus solution. Bitdefender is not at all behind all the other top-level free antivirus solutions that have been mentioned above. The Bitdefender free antivirus 2018 for Windows operating system is specially designed to take a lighter toll on your system resources as to give you better performance.

The Bitdefender antivirus solution has one of the best protection and defense protocols against active threats such as phishing, viruses and other malware. Their regularly updated databases make sure that none of the malware that may possess threats to your computer system goes unnoticed.

Yet another important feature of the Bitdefender antivirus 2018 free edition is its online fraud detection. The anti-fraud system within the Bitdefender antivirus software 2018 provides you with real-time warnings whenever you are visiting a scam website, thus keeping you protected from any kinds of online fraud activities.


Final Words:

Well, that was a comprehensive and well-detailed guide that covered some very important topics such as how does antivirus software work, the importance of antivirus software solutions in 2018 and what are some of the best free antivirus software of 2018 for the Windows operating system out there. We have tried to feature all the latest and very best of the free antivirus solutions out there from all the popular antivirus developers around the globe. In case we missed out on any of your favorite free antivirus software in 2018 for the Windows operating system, then please do mention them in the email address mentioned below.

Best Antivirus 2017

Best Antivirus 2017

Do you need an antivirus program?

In a nutshell: yes.

Back in the early days of computing, viruses and other forms of malware were relatively rare.

Often coded by lone wolves intent on having ‘fun’ or creating a small amount of frustration among the early adopters, the creation of new malicious code was so low-key that the early security companies would only send out updates to their programs on floppy disk every few months.

Subscribers could sleep well at night, safe in the knowledge that their PCs were highly unlikely to become infected with anything nasty.

Fast forward to the end of last year and the threat landscape now looks altogether different.

As The Register reported in September 2014, the number of new malware samples released every day is quite staggering: 227,747, equivalent to 158 new threats per minute.

Even more interesting is the fact that only 9% of new threats in the third quarter of 2014 were viruses – the vast majority (75%) of new malicious code being written today is trojans which are typically designed to steal banking logins and other sensitive information.

Your best defence against the threat posed by trojans, worms, viruses and rootkits is to have security software installed on all your machines, especially those that are connected to the internet – as most are these days.

By installing an antivirus program, you will greatly improve your chances of detecting and neutralising those threats.

While no AV program offers a ‘magic bullet,’ they are a critical first step in securing your device.


Do the free tools baked into recent editions of Windows offer sufficient protection?

Microsoft has, for some time now, offered free security tools to owners of its Windows operating system, either through the downloadable Microsoft Security Essentials or through Windows Defender which can be found bundled with Windows 8, 8.1 and now 10.

While both are free, compact, easy to use and offer some level of protection, independent testing labs, such as AV-Comparatives, have often concluded that their effectiveness is quite limited.

Therefore our advice is to avoid Microsoft’s baked in security and look instead to some of the many alternatives.

Are free antivirus programs good enough?

Not all antivirus programs are created equal and many attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition either via the additional features they offer or by price.

As we believe in offering you an informed choice, our reviews look at both paid and free security software.

While free AV programs could be right for you – free is free after all, and your needs may be fairly modest – they do tend to skimp on the list of features they offer, or the amount or cost of the support they come with.

Our antivirus reviews will evaluate just what you will get from a free antivirus program and assess whether that offers better value for your needs versus a paid alternative.

Does a standalone antivirus program offer enough protection or should you pair it up with a firewall, or go for a full internet security suite?

Such an important question is not one we can answer on your behalf – the answer lies in how you use your computer, laptop or other device.

If you are an occasional surfer who never visits any websites that could be deemed as questionable then you will still need some security in order to protect yourself from the possibility of accidentally visiting an otherwise legitimate site that has been hacked and injected with malware.

You will also need to think about the risk of installing malware from borrowed CDs, DVDs and USB sticks, as well as the threat posed by malicious email attachments.

Overall though, a small, free antivirus program may serve your needs well enough.

On the other hand, heavy surfers, those of you banking online, or making web purchases with your credit cards, will probably appreciate the extra protection afforded by having additional security features in your arsenal.

If this sounds like you, we would definitely recommend a firewall and anti-spyware as a minimum starting point and would also suggest that you may wish to look into full internet security suites which often cost just a little more than an antivirus program but offer all these features and many more besides.


Does paying for your antivirus program guarantee that you’ll receive adequate support from the vendor?

In a nutshell: no.

Our experience of antivirus vendors tells us that customer support is not always proportional to the price you pay for the product.

While it is certainly true that the companies offering free AV products tend to offer less support in the first place, it is also true that handing over your hard earned cash may not earn you the right to rely upon 24/7 support via phone or email.

Our reviews will give you a good idea of both the level of support you should expect to receive with any given product, and the ease with which you can expect to call upon it when required.

Will your antivirus program of choice give you the level of protection that you need?

That is, of course, the million dollar question.

While there are many factors to consider when choosing an antivirus program, including:

  • Ease of use
  • Level and availability of support
  • Minimum system requirements
  • Additional features, such as anti-spyware, online banking protection, firewalls, social media plugins, phishing protection and more

The most important consideration for most of you will be whether or not it can get the main job done – protecting your computing device from the numerous threats it could face as you traverse the internet.

With that in mind, our antivirus reviews will take a close look at just how effective each program is.

Own an older machine? Will your antivirus program even work and, if so, will it render your computer unusable for anything else while running a scan?

As technology marches on at what appears to be an ever-increasing pace it’s easy to forget that not everyone has the latest processors or the fastest solid state drives in their desktop PCs.

And why should they?

Unless you are gaming (and if you are, you may want to read our reviews to see how your preferred antivirus program deals with that situation) or editing videos, then much older machines are still perfectly adequate for the majority of tasks.

Email, word processing, web surfing and online banking are all quite possible on PCs manufactured in the last decade.

But how old is too old for the latest antivirus protection?

Well, the good news is that the vast majority of security software will run on very low spec machines so the minimum system requirements may not be an issue for you.

But you will want to check, just to be certain.

There’s nothing worse that a program that doesn’t work, or one that slows your machine to a total standstill when you have work to do, is there?

Read our reviews!

So, which antivirus program is the right one for you and your family?

The simple answer is that there is no simple answer – everyone’s needs are different and, for the most part, there certainly isn’t a wrong choice (the major vendors’ products may vary in effectiveness and usefulness but they all get the job done to some degree or another).

That’s why picking the right one for you can be so damned hard.

While some people will fall back on the strangest of reasons for purchasing a particular product – yes, some of those boxes do look nice and, yes, it can be convenient to stick with the antivirus program that came with your computer, the truth is that your decision deserves a greater level of consideration than that.

If you want a program that will give you the level of protection you need and deserve then you need to pick one that suits you as an individual, that works hand in hand with the type of computing you do, and that isn’t too demanding for the machine you are installing it on.

You’ll also want a program that’s easy to use and value for money – after all, why pay if a free version is good enough?

Equally, why go cheap if a far better level of protection can be had inexpensively?

If you need help walking through this minefield then trust in us – we’ve reviewed all the best antivirus programs and our expert reviews will tell you everything you need to know before picking the right software to match your needs.

Computer Virus Resources: A Big List of Tools and Guides

Computer Virus Resources: A Big List of Tools and Guides

Below you’ll find a handy list of resources that will explain what computer viruses are, how to prevent them, how to get rid of them, and where you can learn more about computer viruses.

Guides About Computer Viruses

If you’re not familiar with computer viruses and what to know more, or you’re wanting to expand your current knowledge, these resources will provide you with in-depth information about them. From how to detect a virus on your computer to what the most common types of viruses are, these guides have all bases covered: – To get you started, here’s a handy definition of “computer virus.” You’ll also find some information on the different types of viruses (e.g. macro viruses, file infectors, and overwrite viruses); an intriguing history of computer viruses; and some of the world’s most famous viruses. You might also want to check out their malware guide, which provides you with even more in-depth information. – Produced by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, this information introduces you to viruses and how you can avoid them. – This resource provides you with the ultimate cheat sheet for tackling computer viruses. It explains how to configure your antivirus software, how to scan for viruses on your computer, and how to operate your computer safely. It also includes a section on what to do if your computer does get a virus and how best to handle this. – Discussing the three most common types of computer viruses, this resource delves into trojans, botnets, and scareware. It goes into detail about each of these while also providing you with advice from some industry-leading experts. – To tackle computer viruses it’s imperative that you’ve got antivirus software installed on your computer. And this great, jargon-free guide explains why you need antivirus software and what you need to look out for when buying it.

BBC Bitesize – Even though this resource is aimed at kids, it still provides a great overview of what viruses are, what can happen if your computer gets one, and what the most common types of malware are. Perfect for educating the kids on what to look out for when they’re on the computer.

Choosing Tools that Will Protect and Remove Computer Viruses

To help you find the most effective antivirus software for your computer, these resources provide useful advice on what features to look out for: – Providing a list of the best antivirus protection for 2017, Comparitech has done all the hard work for you by reviewing each provider in detail. They’ve looked at various criteria, including value for money, effectiveness, and additional features. You can read in-depth reviews on each of these providers before making your purchase. – Here you’ll find some more information about what antivirus software does, how it works, and how it will respond to threats.

SE Labs – Founded by security expert Simon Edwards,  Chairman of the Board of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization, this company provides independent testing of antivirus programs. Consumers can sign-up to receive their latest reports here.

Databases About Viruses

To stay alerted to potential threats, you may want to check on these databases which provide the latest real-time updates on existing and emerging threats and vulnerabilities: – WildList Organization International aim to provide comprehensive, timely, and accurate information to product developers and users about computer viruses that are “in the wild.” The list is produced by over 40 recognized volunteers and is free for all to view. – As a leader in cyber security, this is a great place to visit if you want to hear about the latest threats. You can find up-to-date information about emerging threats, emerging risks, and vulnerabilities. – On this website you’ll find a list of recent threats, which have been assessed to establish what type of risk they are (i.e. low or high). You can also find a global virus map and a list of recent virus hoaxes. – Learn about the top threats through AVG Threat Labs’ encyclopedia of viruses. Here you can learn more about specific viruses (e.g. Trojan Horse) while also seeing what threats have been detected today and what types of malware have been found.

Additional Resources and Organizations

CERT – If you want to stay up to date with all the latest developments in Internet security, including the most recent computer virus threats, this is your go-to place. Run as part of the Software Engineering Institute, CERT aims to provide cutting-edge information, advice, and training to continually develop and improve cybersecurity. – This nonprofit organization is based in Asia and is made up of a number of experts from all over the world. Their aim is to prevent the damage and spread of malicious malware while also raising the awareness of computer viruses to users across the globe. – For Mac users, this is a must-see resource as it provides you with added details on the type of safety that’s built into Macs. It’s also a good place to keep up to date with the latest advancements and whether there are any updates you need to do. – Here you can learn about Microsoft’s latest investments, what they’re doing to make their systems safe, and the security methods that are built into their systems. If you’re a business, you can also perform a security risk assessment, which helps you to see the cost implications of a security threat and what measures you need to take to protect your company. – As an independent service provider, AV-TEST carries out research work which enables them to find the latest threats and analyze these before informing customers about their findings. Stay up to date with their latest tests through their website, narrowing your search down according to what device you want to search for – e.g. Android; Windows (business or personal); and MacOS. – With this publication you can find out the latest techniques, developments, and threats to online security, while also hearing the opinions of industry experts. Virus Bulletin also tests anti-malware software, so you can read about their certification schemes and what these involve.

Antivirus software – an analysis of why you need it and what to look out for

Antivirus software – an analysis of why you need it and what to look out for

In the not-so-distant past, bedroom coders with a passion for mischief created what some would now term ‘works of art’ – computer viruses that announced themselves to the world, often with flashy (for the time) graphics and a penchant for doing some pretty freaky things with the display on your VDU (an old-style cathode ray tube monitor that pre-dated modern flat screens).

Occasionally amusing, often annoying, they were tricky to get rid of back in the late 1980s, primarily because there weren’t many companies offering removal services and there definitely wasn’t an internet, at least not in a form that would be recognisable today.

But things soon changed as companies saw an opportunity to provide a useful service while making a stack of cash on a yearly subscription basis.

Security vendors appeared, offering “computer insurance” in the form of antivirus programs.

Back in the day, those antivirus programs were sent out to subscribers on floppy disk, with updates arriving on further disks every few months or so.

Then, later, as the internet began to take off, updates would be sent weekly, maybe even daily, as the number of viruses began to increase.

It wasn’t every computer user who had to worry about malware in those days – the Apple Mac’s niche status at that time allowed it to fly under the radar and was actually a key selling point in the burgeoning battle with Microsoft and its Windows operating system.

But that was then and this is now: we no longer see viruses that play games with us, or cause text to scroll down the screen – so that means there is no longer any need for antivirus software, right?

Think again.

Why you still need antivirus software

Quite simply, the problem with viruses or, more specifically other forms of malware, has not gone away.

Far from it in fact.

The days when security researchers found a few new viruses every day have long since disappeared – they’re now finding thousands of new threats on a daily basis and most of them are not viruses at all but rather Trojans, designed to steal your data or recruit your PC into a botnet.

Motivated by money rather than art or the progression of technical skills, modern malware is the antithesis of the viruses of days gone by – it doesn’t want to draw attention to itself at all.

Now, we’re not going to try and scare you by saying that means your computer is secretly infected right now – it may or may not be, depending on the security software you may have installed and the way in which you use your machine – but we would say that it is a possibility.

Machines connected to the internet are vulnerable.

Over time, developers have improved the security of operating systems, browsers and routers, but vulnerabilities are still there all the same.

Not only that, the ‘bad guys’ are no longer lone wolves – they’re organised criminals looking to cash in on your identity, gain access to your bank account, borrow your computer’s resources to throw DDoS attacks at hapless victims or send thousands of spam emails out in your name.

Such people are talented, organised and well-funded and it’s no secret that many of them are one step ahead of the ‘good guys’ at all times.

So if you don’t protect your computer, what chance do you have against such bad actors?

What problems can you expect if you don’t take security seriously?

The potential issues posed by malware are vast, simply because of the sheer volume of it being produced each and every day.

That said, most can be categorised into a small band of broader threats.

In the early days of computing the early viruses were often nothing more than an aggravation, playing with displays and showing of the “skillz” of whoever was responsible for the coding.

The more malevolent viruses went another step further though, messing with the master boot record (MBR) on your computer’s hard drive, thereby making it unusable and potentially corrupting the data stored on it.

While such an attack vector is definitely not so common now, it has begat something far more insidious – ransomware – which will lock a hard drive with virtually unbreakable encryption, demanding payment for return of the data stored upon it.

Then, as we have already mentioned, there are Trojans – named after the Trojan horse of legend, used by the Greeks to surreptitiously gain entry to Troy – which secretly hide on your machine, doing as bidden in the background.

Spyware and adware can also be a problem.

Embedding themselves into your browser, these pieces of code watch where you go, watch what you do, slow down your PC and report back to whoever controls them and lead to an invasion of your privacy and the risks associated with having your personal information in the hands of a crook, or an increase in the amount of advertising you seen when surfing the web, targeted or otherwise.

The way in which such malware is delivered has evolved too.

Criminals no longer have to rely upon propagation through floppy diskettes – they can also spread their wares via USB sticks, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, over local networks, through fake websites, corrupted websites, over WiFi, and many other ways besides.

If you don’t have antivirus software installed, and engage in risky behaviour (ignoring browser security warnings, clicking unknown links in emails, connecting to unknown networks, visiting websites of a certain nature, etc.) then the risk of your machine getting infected is that much higher.

So, you want virus protection?

That’s good to hear!

Hopefully you now realise that antivirus protection is essential.

It’s not a silver bullet – such a thing doesn’t exist in the world of computer security – but it certainly is an ally worth having.

But which program do you go for?

That’s a very good question, and one we’ll be covering in great detail with our growing list of product reviews covering the best antivirus programs and full internet security suites.

It really is worth putting some research time into picking the right program for you because not all antivirus software is created equally.

There are free versions, paid for programs and even online scanners.

Some of them are good, when excellent would be better, some are poor, and some are completely fake.

Others have even been known to cheat the tests run by independent labs.

So how on earth do you pick which antivirus program is the best fit for your needs?

Much will depend on your level of confidence and competence when it comes to computing.

With all the features being crammed into even entry-level antivirus programs these days there is much to confuse the less computer literate among you while the same features could prove to be a key selling point to those who have a fair level of understanding in the IT field.

So, that said, the following points will be more or less pertinent to you, depending on your own personal circumstances:

Ease of use, documentation and support

For many people the ability to pick up an antivirus program and start using it straight away with the minimum of fuss will be a key factor in their decision-making process.

It doesn’t matter how effective a piece of antivirus software is if you can’t use it and installing such a program without setting it up correctly could actually be worse than not having any protection at all, given that you would then have a false sense of security.

And even if you do have some idea of what your PC antivirus program can do, a poor interface could still be intimidating for the average person.

For most people, the best antivirus program is the one that is easy to understand, easily setup and then quite happy to be left running in the background, performing to an acceptable level.

If it’s made to be any more complicated than that it runs the risk of confusing the very person its designed to protect.

That’s why clear instructions are essential.

Alas, the days of programs arriving in physical boxes with printed documentation appear to be a thing of the past, and downloaded security software doesn’t always come with instructions either, so clear and concise instructions on the company’s website or support forums could be essential, as could quality email or telephone support.

Effective protection, low impact on system resources

It goes without saying that ease of installation and use will only get you so far with an antivirus program – once in place it needs to actually get on with the job of protecting you and your system.

If your newly installed protection cannot actually protect you then it isn’t worth having at all.

Therefore, it is essential that you choose an AV program that will get the job done, preferably with the minimum of fuss.

That means a great detection engine, real-time scanning, a frequent update of virus definitions to ensure you don’t fall prey to the latest zero day attack, the ability to isolate suspicious files and other as-yet unidentified potentially malicious code on the fly, and a code base that allows it to go about its business without impacting your computer’s resources to the point that it impacts any work or gaming you may be engaged in at the same time as a scan is going on.

A good communicator

The key to any relationship is good communication and that holds true for your antivirus program too.

While you generally want it act like a Victorian child – seen but not heard – a complete silence should also be a concern.

Instead, the ideal antivirus program will keep you updated on what it is doing but without going overboard and peppering you with a constant stream of messages.

In other words, you want it to run in the background, only reporting when a scan has been completed, something of interest has been discovered, or a virus neutralised.

A range of additional features

Antivirus programs have evolved greatly in recent years and now offer more features than ever before.

For those of you looking out for more than just vanilla antivirus protection, those additional features could be key and may be the difference between plumping for an AV program and a full internet security package.

Some of the more common such features that you may find bolted on to your virus scanner of choice include:

  • unique, dedicated browser for online banking
  • rootkit detection
  • script blocking
  • browser warnings
  • parental controls
  • social network protection
  • email screening
  • anti-phishing protection
  • anti-spyware
  • anti-keylogging features
  • low resource-usage gaming modes
  • PC tune-up facilities

Which, if any, of the above features are important to you will heavily influence the type of antivirus software you choose to go with – while some free programs are competent at basic scanning duties, they often lack the additional benefits conferred by handing over a small amount of cash for your protection.

Of course it’s up to you to choose which is relevant to your needs but we would caution against thinking you can get away without any protection at all – employing some degree of prudence will not only protect your own devices, it will also ensure that you’re not a bad web neighbour, unknowingly collecting malware and passing it onto your family, friends and other contacts.