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5 Best Antivirus Software in the Market Right Now

Best Value

Norton Security 360 Deluxe Antivirus Software

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Best Choice

Bitdefender Total Security Antivirus Software

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Premium Pick

Avast Ultimate Antivirus Software

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Many people around the globe are starting to become more aware of the importance of information security and online safety, and essentially a multi-purpose antivirus software is essential as the first line of defense for both individuals and families.

Back in 2017, a consumer reporting agency company called Equifax experienced a massive data breach. Hackers infiltrated the data systems of Equifax and copied the sensitive personal data of over 148 million Americans. This includes the credit card numbers of over 209,000 customers. Members of the Chinese military were indicted for the breach, but the company’s reputation had already plunged by then. Local legislators also experienced pressure to enact legislation for improved database security practices.

A similar incident was experienced by the ride-hailing company Uber in 2017. The driver’s license of over 600,000 drivers who were affiliated with or worked for Uber was stolen. The email addresses and phone numbers belonging to 57 million Uber riders and drivers around the world were also stolen. It turned out that two hackers accessed the data on a third-party cloud-based service. Thankfully authorities were able to apprehend them before they did anything to the stolen information.

 

Cyber-security is A Shared Responsibility

Blue Background Antivirus
Photo by Mohamed Hassan

 

It’s easy to put the blame on weak security software or incompetent data security protocols. But the truth is these companies have some of the best software security systems in the world. Experts estimate that the increasingly complicated cyber-attacks and digital thefts will continue to compromise Information security and cost the world a total of 6 trillion dollars by 2021. Notably, private firms and government agencies that keep public information are, particularly at risk. The most vulnerable industries are health care, manufacturing, and financial services. Government agencies and the transportation industry are equally vulnerable.

Individuals are even more vulnerable because of the lack of awareness and protocols for such when they are under attack. We’re led to inadvertently infect our own devices by sheer lack of precaution with accessing potentially infected files. With so many different types of malware, Trojans, viruses, spyware, worms, rootkits, etc. we are not even aware until it’s too late.

We’re also at risk of being victimized by hackers and cyber-criminals who can infiltrate our lives and steal our personal information. Just consider the fact that they now hack into any device that you own. They can lock up your most valuable files and demand payment (ransomware). Or they can simply access your bank details to withdraw money from your account (identity fraud). Like a fresh crab in a slowly boiling pot, you’ll never know when they are onto you.

 

Best Antivirus Software

If there’s one thing to take away from the scenarios described, it is that no one is exempted from the looming threat of digital crimes and cyber-attacks. But you can reduce your vulnerability by taking action and keeping your digital information and possessions safe. Follow database security best practices and arm yourself with reliable antivirus software.

We’ve come up with a list of the best antivirus software in the market. These are premium products with multiple features and extended coverage for almost all devices in your household. We’ve selected the ones that have been given the highest ratings based on consumer and industry reviews. Also included are some findings on malware protection and system performance capabilities from tests conducted by Austrian-based Company AC-Comparatives.

AV-Comparatives regularly conduct laboratory-type systems tests on selected antivirus software. Included in several lines of testing is the malware protection test that measures the ability of the system to protect against all kinds of malware. They also carry out a comprehensive systems performance test to measure software responsiveness to system tasks such as file copying, archiving, and installing/uninstalling, launching applications, downloading files and browsing websites.

Here is the list that we’ve compiled for you:

 

1

Norton Security 360 Deluxe Antivirus Software

Features

The Norton Security 360 Deluxe has all the best features you could want in an antivirus software package. It has a secure VPN, LifeLock Identity Alert, Credit Monitoring, SafeCam. Password Manager, Parental Controls, Real-Time Threat Protection, and a 100GB Cloud back-up system.

The VPN lets you surf the internet without having your location, personal information, or name tracked.  There’s also a cloud backup function that lets you upload important files into a secure folder to protect it from getting ransomed or corrupted. It’s possible to set up a VPN on your own, but you won’t need to with full-featured antivirus software.

The Norton Family toolbar with special parental controls that lets you manage and limit the internet access of your children. This feature also allows you to customize the online content that they are exposed to and even choose the exact time that they can access the internet.

The LifeLock identity theft feature sends you notifications for when your social security number, name, address or date of birth are used in bank applications and other services.

 

Malware Protection

The Norton Security 360 Deluxe uses Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response (SONAR) that protects your computer from both existing and new malware. It also offers incredible antivirus protection against other kinds of malware that can cause your computer to malfunction.

The software has all the basic functions for you to choose schedules for the automatic scans and choose between a quick scan and a complete scan. Once this action is completed, the diagnostic reporting tool will present you with a report card of its findings. It also shows you the number of files downloaded and secured, and how much space has been cleaned and optimized.

The application also detects and eliminates Potentially unwanted applications (PUA). These are types of malware that target the firmware of your computer from attacking the firmware of your computer. There’s also a malware rescue environment that lets you restart your computer system during an ongoing threat.

Additional administrative settings give you extra control over your background tasking, system optimizer, remote management, shortcut key settings, and network proxy settings. Parental controls that let you customize the time of day your children can access the internet, and the type of content that they’ll be able to see while online.

There’s also an ID theft protection service that warns you against completing bogus online forms that could steal information.

 

System Performance

The software runs on limited memory. It will not hinder your system performance in any way, except if a virus or malware manages to infiltrate it. System options included in the software lets you back up, restore, or clean your files to maximize disk storage. Files you’ve accidentally erased but want to get back can also be retrieved. It also lets you manage some of the other applications on your device. The start-up manager lets you delete unnecessary files and applications that cause your computer to lag.

 

User Interface

The app has a simple, white background in-lined with green fonts and icons. The interface is very easy to understand and navigate, with the main function categories neatly laid out.

There’s also a graphs window that shows you visual reports about how well your computer is performing. You’ll receive visual reports about the summary of actions conducted by your software. This includes the number of installations, downloads, and optimized apps. You’ll also see visual reports about detections, quick scans, and system alerts.

The Norton Security 360 Deluxe can be installed in up to 5 Devices for a 1-Year or 2-Year Subscription. The software is compatible with all types of devices. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones, etc. Check out the Norton 360 package from Amazon.

 

2

McAfee Total Protection Antivirus Software

Features

Mcafee has all the basic features expected of any antivirus software such as real-time scanning, firewall, automatic updates, scheduled scans, anti-spam features, and spyware tracking and removal through a cloud-based antivirus. The software also comes with a cloud storage feature that lets you keep your most important files in an encrypted folder.

The McAfee Web Advisor allows you to download files from the internet safely. It also monitors and warns you of suspicious links before you click them. Most filters and basic security settings have been configured in default so you don’t need to make drastic changes to it, but they can be customized should you want that. The True Key password manager keeps your log-in information for multiple accounts so you don’t need to remember them all. It also keeps your information from getting stolen.

The software also offers internet support. It comes with a VPN network for secure web surfing. It also scans online servers and sign-up sheets for malware that could steal your cryptocurrencies. The software monitors your computer for suspicious activity.

Parental control functions let you restrict internet usage times of each family member to certain periods. It also lets you customize the settings to limit your children’s exposure to social media and explicit content online.

 

Malware Protection

The AV-Comparatives test run last October 2019 gave McAfee a rating of Standard performance for malware protection. The standard rating is two levels below the perfect rating, which is still above-average performance. This tells us that the malware detection capabilities for existing malware are on point.

It’s able to efficiently track and remove existing malware through its real-time scanning and auto-update features. It also assists you online by removing cookies, trackers and other potential spyware. The software uses Cloud AV Technology, a form of fingerprinting technology to detect and eliminate new malware. Unfortunately, its malware detection and removal might work best for existing malware but not for new ones.

The Ransom Guard software is perhaps the coolest feature of all. It detects potential ransomware and immediately copies your files before they can get encrypted.

Other basic security features such as real-time scanning, firewall protection, automatic updates, and scheduled scans keep you safe from all types of malware.

 

System Performance

McAfee received a system performance rating of Advanced+ or very fast system performance for the comprehensive performance test. This could state that McAfee can run very efficiently in the background even when the antivirus software is fully functional. In short, it can work efficiently even when running a full scan. When the system performance is affected, the user will just experience a minimal decrease in functionality. McAfee is integrated with fingerprinting technology for fast and efficient scans.

 

User Interface

The app has a simple, white background in-lined with red fonts and icons. The interface is very easy to understand and navigate, with the main function categories neatly laid out. And there appear to be no buttons that let you limit or control these pop-ups.

The LiveSafe portal displays all the devices connected to the antivirus system, including the device information, protection status and request for updates for each device. This way, family members are aware of which devices in the household are infected. Adding devices is also very easy with a step-by-step guide on the interface.

There’s also a bell-shaped icon on the interface that shows you all recent activities of the program, along with a news icon that shows cyber-security articles. There’s also a light bulb icon that serves as the Help feature of the program.

The McAfee Total Protection Antivirus Software was designed for up to 10 Devices for a 1-Year Subscription. The software is also able to run on multiple types of devices. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones, etc. System support in the form of phone, chat and online support for the duration of the subscription also comes with the package. Check out the McAfee Total Protection package from Amazon.

 

3

Bitdefender Total Security Antivirus Software

Features

Bitdefender has all the basic features expected of any antivirus software. It has real-time malware scanning, firewall, and automatic updates and scheduled scans. There’s also spyware tracking and removal along with cloud-based fingerprinting technology. This detects new malware. There’s also a password manager that remembers log-in information for multiple devices and keeps it from getting stolen.

The secure vault lets you store your important files in a secure folder. This will prevent other people, including ransomware, from accessing them. The folder shield function protects your files from ransomware by adding extra security to them. There’s also a secure erase function that lets you erase your files from all systems so that there will be no traces left on your computer.

An anti-ransomware feature adds extra protection for your files. An anti-tracker feature blocks all websites that try to track you online. It also shows you all blocked sites and the page loading time for each site visited. A web filtering feature lets you customize system scanning for suspicious files. It monitors your online activity and scans all downloads from the internet. The software also comes with an unlimited VPN network. This allows you to surf the internet without tracking any of your information.

The Safepay feature blocks browser add-on features and forces encrypted online payment transactions. The software also monitors your online activities and prevents potential malware from websites and pop-up links. Other support features include a User’s Guide, Support Center, Clean-Up, Feedback and Quick Tour toolbars.

 

Malware Protection

The AV-Comparatives test run last October 2019 gave Bitdefender an Advanced+ for malware detection. This means that its malware detection capabilities, both online and offline, are close to perfect. Bitdefender is notably one of the best performers in terms of malware protection out of all available software in the market.

The software also has an excellent file and system protection capabilities. It’s able to detect malware in your files and prevent it from making unauthorized changes. It automatically closes programs that can introduce malware into your system.

It either quarantines or deletes all potential threats detected during the full scan. A secure rescue environment can restart the system from a hidden disk and scans Windows from a safe zone. It also detects and removes potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

Bitdefender uses what is called a heuristic monitor that checks for new malware. AV cloud technology detects and adapts to new malware. Reports of malicious activities are sent to the cloud for analysis. A system report is generated and sent back to the software. This will prompt the removal of infected files.

 

System Performance

Bitdefender received a system performance rating of Advanced+ or very fast system performance for the comprehensive performance test. This is a perfect rating on the AV-Comparatives scale. This means that the software can work efficiently even when running a full scan. It is a lightweight application that translates to minimal battery consumption. The scanning system also uses fingerprinting technology for fast, efficient scans. It doesn’t affect your system performance as well during scans.

Most of the functions on the application can be modified and adjusted. These include settings for system scans, web browsing, and cloud protection. Additional security and extra performance toolbars are also available for system scans, web browsing, and cloud storage. These additional buttons complement threat elimination features and customize system performance. The software is compatible with all types of devices. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones, etc.

 

User Interface

The app has a simple, pure black background in-lined with white and blue fonts and icons. Looking a lot like a gaming interface, the software design is both beautiful user-friendly.  and is very easy to navigate even for beginners.

Bitdefender Total Security can be installed in up to 5 Devices for a 1-Year Subscription. The software is also able to run on as many as fifteen different devices. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones, etc. Check out the Bitdefender Total Security package from Amazon.

 

4

Avast Ultimate Antivirus Software

Features

Avast employs all basic features expected of any antivirus such as real-time malware scanning, firewall for both computers and handheld devices, automatic updates, scheduled scans, and anti-spam utility features. It’s particularly proud of its malware scanning capabilities that are very fast and efficient.

It offers special security features for mobile phones connected to it. It has anti-theft features that let you send instructions to your phone to trigger alerts and remote wipe functions. You can trace the location of a stolen hand-held device or shut down some of its features by sending instructions through a secure online account. It’s also able to block numbers you don’t want to communicate with.

A password manager remembers your log-in information for multiple devices. The file shredder lets you delete unnecessary and unused files permanently from all areas of your system memory. A clean-up tool lets you remove unnecessary files to keep your system working efficiently. There’s also an app health function that shows you the diagnostic updates about your device. Diagnostic information includes how much time you’ve spent on each app, the amount of data used up, and the permissions required, etc.

The software also has special features not found in other software. It has a webcam shield that prevents malware from making unauthorized changes to your computer. There’s also a sandbox feature that lets you open suspicious files in safe mode so your system can stay safe from malware.

 

Malware Protection

The AV-Comparatives test run last October 2019 gave Avast an Advanced+ for malware detection. This indicates excellent and precise malware detection capabilities. On this aspect, it’s safe to say that Avast is on par with Bitdefender. It has also surpassed the performances of other applications available in the market. This rating also translates to fast scans and excellent detection for new and existing malware on any computer system.

 

System Performance

Avast received an excellent system performance rating of Advanced+ or very fast system performance for the comprehensive performance test. This means the software can run very efficiently in the background even when the antivirus is fully functional. It’s able to run efficiently with the full scan with minimal impact on your computer system. This also lets you run multiple commands while conducting a full scan.

 

User Interface

The app has a simple, pure white background in-lined with red and green icons and black font. The interface is very easy to understand and navigate, with all features and functions neatly laid out on the left. The main screen displays all security settings to show you the most important updates. The icons are easy to understand, and this version doesn’t have any ads so nothing will pop-up unexpectedly.

Avast Ultimate 2020 can be installed in up to 5 Devices for a 2-Year Subscription. The software is compatible with all types of devices. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones, etc.

Check out the Avast Ultimate 2020 package from Amazon.

 

5

Trend Micro Maximum Security 2020 Antivirus Software

Features

Trend Micro reportedly uses the same technology that Microsoft uses to protect larger businesses. It has all the basic features expected of any antivirus such as real-time malware scanning, automatic updates, scheduled scans, and anti-spam utility features. It uses heuristic monitoring, a form of fingerprinting technology, for fast and efficient scans.

Unfortunately, the Maximum Security package does not have VPN or firewall features. What it does have is a password manager and file encryption features that are not present in other devices. There are also parental control options that let you limit the internet usage of family members. There’s also a smart schedule feature that lets you choose the schedule for automatic scans.

Protective features against data theft prevent sensitive files from getting stolen from your PC. The PayGuard and data theft protection encrypt your online financial transactions and your online information from getting stolen.

A privacy scanner prevents you from providing information on bogus web pages and prevents you from sharing too much information on social media. A Fraud Buster web mail feature warns you against providing too much personal information online. A family protection feature lets you control your children’s access to the internet.

There’s also a threat protection network that lets you share threat protection information with Trend Micro so that it can improve its products and services. Extra security and extra performance toolbars add also complement its threat-protection features.

 

Malware Protection

The AV-Comparatives test run last October 2019 gave Trend Micro an Advanced rating for malware detection. The software is very sensitive and has an almost perfect detection rate for new malware through its real-time scanning and web filtering functions. Folder Shield, its anti-ransomware feature, is also effective for preventing your files from getting encrypted. But this hyper-awareness also has a downside as the system sometimes generates false positives. This is when the system benign software as something threatening when it’s not. Nonetheless, the malware detection and elimination capabilities of this software are up-to-date.

 

System Performance

Trend Micro received a system performance rating of Advanced or fast system performance for the comprehensive performance test. This means your computer will still function efficiently during a complete system scan. Since the rating given is not quite perfect, it could mean that you’ll experience a bit of a lag but only a minimal lag on your computer.

 

User Interface

The app has a simple, pure white background with bright red and green icons and black font. The software design is user-friendly and informative.

The software also uses quick, visual reports of your system status. Color-coded reports make for an easy interpretation. Green means your system is protected. Yellow means the system is potentially unprotected. Red means the system is at risk.

You have the option to turn off the auto-renewal of the software which ensures pop-up requests don’t appear to renew your subscription.

The Trend Micro Maximum Security 2020 can be installed in up to 5 Devices for a 3-Year Subscription. The software is compatible with all types of devices. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones, etc. Check out the Trend Micro Maximum Security 2020 package on Amazon.

 

Everyone is At Risk

It’s easy to put the blame on weak security software or incompetent data security protocols. But the truth is these companies have some of the best software security systems in the world. Experts estimate that the increasingly complicated cyber-attacks and digital thefts will continue to compromise Information security and cost the world a total of 6 trillion dollars by 2021. Notably, private firms and government agencies that keep public information are, particularly at risk. The most vulnerable industries are health care, manufacturing, and financial services. Government agencies and the transportation industry are equally vulnerable.

Individuals are even more vulnerable because of the lack of awareness and protocols for such when they are under attack. We’re led to inadvertently infect our own devices by sheer lack of precaution with accessing potentially infected files. With so many different types of malware, Trojans, viruses, spyware, worms, rootkits, etc. we are not even aware until it’s too late.

We’re also at risk of being victimized by hackers and cyber-criminals who can infiltrate our lives and steal our personal information. Just consider the fact that they now hack into any device that you own. They can lock up your most valuable files and demand payment (ransomware). Or they can simply access your bank details to withdraw money from your account (identity fraud). Like a fresh crab in a slowly boiling pot, you’ll never know when they are onto you.

 

Other External Issues That Affect PC Performance

Ladybug Antivirus
Photo by Mohamed Hassan

Sometimes your computer slows down but it’s not always attributable to a computer virus or malware. There are other equally likely reasons for your computer’s lag:

Old hardware

The simple fact is that all software and hardware have limited lifespans. After some time, they will start to slow down and then die eventually. Even updating your software can lead to a slowdown since this takes up additional memory on your hard drive. If your computer slows down considerably, or you can no longer install a new operating system or new apps and games, it might be time to get a new computer.

 

Inefficient Programs

Some computer programs take up significant chunks of processing power. Some may not be running properly and sometimes encounter errors so they can’t load properly. As mentioned, computer programs and processes can encounter errors on their own for reasons not attributable to a virus. If it’s not a virus, your antivirus might not be able to detect the error and fix it. To prevent chunky programs from slowing down your computer, check the CPU tab under the Task Manager toolbar of your device. This should sort out all programs by the amount of processing power of each. Select all programs that you’re not using and delete them.

 

Outdated Antivirus Updates

We know that it can be quite a hassle to attend to your antivirus request for updates, but it’s necessary. Updates are particularly important because this lets your software identify and take note of new malware. This way, it’s able to include this information into its database for subsequent detection. That’s why it’s very important to pay attention to your antivirus software prompts and check into your software once in a while to download system updates.

 

Full Hard Disk

Having a full disk space ((HDD or SSD) can slow down your system significantly. Experts have noted that having a hard drive that is 95% full will cut down system performance by almost 50%. At this point, there won’t be additional space to save temporary files for operating programs. It’s also questionable whether your anti-virus updates will be able to load properly. To clean out your computer, conduct a deep clean and clear out all unused files and downloads.

 

Final Thoughts on Antivirus Software

Reliable antivirus software is great for keeping out all kinds of malware, viruses, worms, Trojan attacks, spyware, etc. from your device. They keep your computer healthy with automatic updates and advanced malware detection systems. They will prevent your personal information from theft and encryption. They’ll also keep your online activities and transactions confidential and safe. They are even able to protect your device from new threats that have not yet been encountered. This will make it much harder for cyber-criminals and their tools to steal your information or get your money. So if you want to stay in control and prepared for anything, reliable antivirus software is a must.

 

 

 

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