Virus’ and malware are everywhere. In fact, chances are that if you don’t use protection you have already been exposed to malevolent software. It is even possible that your computer, or online accounts, are being compromised right now and you don’t even know it.
Selecting virus and malware protection software is vital. However, finding protection that perfectly suits your needs can seem a headache. There are many options on the market, and having to choose between them can be pretty daunting. What is the difference between the options? Do they have any downsides? And would some software suit you better?
In this article, we will walk you through a number of important considerations that will help you to choose your virus and malware protection. That way you can be sure that you have got the right protection for your devices.
According to statistics, in 2017 there is a 1 in 3 chance that you will be hacked. Ransomware is on the rise, and attacks like WannaCry reveal the massive scope that attacks can have. Phishing techniques use social engineering to successfully deliver spyware, malware, Trojans, worms, and other kinds of virus’ onto people’s devices. What’s more, social media exposes users to various dangers.
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What is virus and malware protection?
Viruses and malware are software designed by hackers to allow them to access your devices. In some instances, they may be used to create web bots and spam bots. Using these, hackers can harness the power of your computer to launch DDoS attacks or to spam large numbers of people. That kind of malware can affect the speed of your computer and internet connection, making it annoying and sluggish.
More sophisticated viruses like Trojans allow a hacker to remotely control the victim’s device. Trojans can even download secondary malware updates from a Command and Control (CnC) server. This type of malware allows hackers to steal passwords, logins, credentials, and credit card details using keyloggers. It can also allow them to take over the camera on a device, and access all of the device’s contents – like photos, work files, contact address books, and anything else.
There are so many different types of malware, that it would be hard to address them all in this article. What we can look at, however, is the different kinds of software available on the market to protect you from these ever-growing threats.
What kind of protection do I need?
This largely depends on what system you are using and what you use it for. However, the reality is that everyone needs some form of protection. It is true that once upon a time people didn’t require malware protection for Macs. However, nowadays there are exploits for all platforms.
This means you should protect your device, whether it be an Android smartphone, an iOS device, a Windows laptop or desktop computer, or an Apple Mac. Even Linux users need to be wary because malware for the platform is on the rise.
How to Choose the Right Software
The first important consideration when it comes to selecting an antivirus is how much you can afford to spend. Protection can range from free to well over $100. Platforms like Avira, Norton, Kaspersky, and Avast, offer various levels of protection.
Consumers can purchase anything from a simple antivirus for one machine to a comprehensive security suite. These include features such as virus and malware protection, ransomware protection, USB device scanning protection, phishing protection and secure surfing, and customizable firewall protection. Tune up features for improving performance may also be included.
These all-in-one plans can be a good option for those that can afford it. However, it is possible to get good results at a fraction of the price – and even for free. This can be achieved by getting the vital security components as separates, and making do without specific features that aren’t absolutely necessary.
What it is worth noting is that tests have proven that free antivirus programs like AVG, Comodo, Malwarebytes, Bitdefender, and Panda Free – to name a few – are just as good at catching viruses as their paid counterparts. By paying, you do get a complete suite of tools and more advanced options. However, you don’t really get better antivirus protection.
What is the minimum level of protection I should have?
As a general rule, it is important to have a firewall and an anti-virus/malware blocker running on your devices. If you use the internet regularly then you are exposing yourself to risks, and a firewall is essential. A firewall works by blocking incoming packets of information that are seen as unsafe.
A good firewall will prompt the user every time that a worrying packet arrives. The best firewalls will also alert the user when their machine is attempting to send suspicious packets. This will stop possible malware that has already infected a device from communicating with a CnC server.
Windows has a built-in firewall, and this is a very good firewall that will suffice for most people. Consumers should make use of this Windows tool – as well as Windows Defender -, Microsoft’s built-in antivirus protection.
A good firewall must successfully permit all valid network traffic and block suspicious or malicious traffic. Ports are like doorways into your network, and they can be open, closed, or “stealthed” which means they aren’t visible to anyone outside of your network. The Windows Firewall is able to stealth all the ports on your machine.
For people who feel they need a more sophisticated firewall, there are many options on the market. However, it is incredibly important to get a firewall that is at least as good as the one that comes with Windows. Sadly, many third-party products don’t meet the grade. So please do your research carefully.
Third Party Firewalls
For Windows users, Comodo Firewall Free and ZoneAlarm Free Firewall are strong options that are free. Another possibility is to use TinyWall. Although this free software is not a firewall, it is very useful because it adds the ability to monitor outgoing connections to the built-in Windows Firewall.
For people searching for a supreme firewall for Mac, Little Snitch is an excellent option, that is highly respected. It is closed source, but it is respected and does do the job well (like TinyWall it has outgoing packet warnings to stop malware/unwanted software from communicating).
WiFi KRACK Exploit Protection
A brand new exploit, that has only just been discovered, actually means that all WiFi connections are vulnerable to hackers. KRACK is a vulnerability that cannot be protected by a firewall or malware protection. This is because it is a vulnerability present in the actual encryption (WPA2) that all WiFi uses. The most cost-effective solution to this problem is to use a VPN service to protect the data coming and going from your devices with an extra layer of encryption that can’t be hacked.
With sufficient virus and malware protection and a VPN service, you provide yourself with the ultimate device protection available. Hacking is becoming more prolific all the time, and the chances of being hit with malicious software have never been higher.
No matter whether you are using a smartphone (Android or iOS), a PC, a Linux machine, or even a MacBook, there have never been more exploits available – and they are getting more sophisticated all the time. The good news is that in this article we have linked the best free antivirus for Windows 10 – and using an antivirus gratis – really isn’t a risk.
On the other hand, nowadays, invasive governments and ISPs are snooping on your data more and more. With that in mind, we strongly recommend that you to consider using a trusted VPN service also. You won’t regret it!
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