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Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac also does a great job of stopping Windows threats. There are some more advanced security features not included with this Mac antivirus program, namely a firewall, password manager and spam filters. However, it has both a vulnerability scanner and a VPN. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition detects and prevents malware infection. It has clean, light and fast scanning mechanisms, with unrivalled virus definitions, making it the best free antivirus software you can get.

Panda Antivirus once, for example, identified itself as a virus and locked up a large number of Windows systems.


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For online gamers who access sites and programs that tend to harbor malware, Avast is a good choice. It is effective at blocking viruses and other threats, plus its gaming mode places the game sites you access on its white list the first time you visit the site. Avast Free Antivirus has a handful of extra tools, like a vulnerability scan. We test each program several times each year, both in our onsite testing facility, using a controlled network and live malware samples, and on our home computers, so we get a good idea of how antivirus programs work in a real-world scenario.

We do quick evaluations when new security breaches are reported to ensure the programs we recommend will protect you from these new threats. As part of our research, we talk to security experts that oversee the network protections at their place of employment, and we speak with professional hackers to understand both the hardware and software side of internet security. For example, we either purchase or download the trial versions of each program for testing, and we never speak to antivirus companies during the testing period.

This ensures we have a neutral testing environment. We subscribe to IT and security news outlets and blogs, plus attend trade shows and conventions specific to internet security to stay aware of security breaches and changes in the industry. We follow local and congressional hearings on cybersecurity, so we have a good understanding of the international stage, its workings and issues that affect both government and personal computer security. We spent over five months testing each antivirus program with live malware samples gathered from several malware databases and included ransomware, Trojans, rootkits, viruses, worms and phishing schemes.

After talking with several computer security experts, we decided to try to access each threat through our internet browsers to simulate how your computer would most likely become infected.

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We tried to download infected files, visit websites we knew harbored threats and attempted to access phishing schemes while watching each antivirus program attempt to warn, block, scrub and protect our test computers. We learned that the popular web browsers, Mozilla Firefox , Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge , interact with these programs differently, which affects how effective they are. And for the record, we did test the security settings of these browsers, too, and can tell you having an antivirus program gives you greater protection, especially if it uses a browser extension.

If the antivirus program prevented the malware from infecting our computer, meaning it interrupted the download process or captured the threat once the file was done downloading but before it could save itself on our system, it was tagged as a successful protection from that threat. And if the antivirus program displayed a warning message when we attempted to access phishing schemes or other dangerous websites, that, too, was marked as a successful outcome. Then we noted what the software did with the threats it found.

Some programs quarantined these threats, some completely scrubbed them from our computer and others notified us about the threat but required us to take several extra steps to neutralize and remove the threat on our own. Because our testing methodology is different from other security testing labs, we factored findings from AV-Test , AV-Comparatives and other laboratories into our overall antivirus ratings. On top of testing how well each program protects your computer, we also evaluated how easy each program is to download, install, set up and use.

The Congressional Internet Caucus , a member group of bipartisan U.

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Cybersecurity experts from L0pht addressed the group about the current internet safety precautions and how to improve them. We agree! This is why our ease of use score is so important. Most antivirus programs require some setup to work properly, and the majority of them need you to turn on the safety tools inside your browsers before they can detect and block malware coming in through the internet.

We gave an average score of 85 percent to these programs then added or took away points depending on consolidated processes, added steps, ease of navigation, etc. With one click VIPRE monitors every browser, cutting down on the steps you need to take and the complex navigation of browser settings to stay protected.

We felt this was a great tool that makes VIPRE easier to use than other programs, so we bumped up its usability score. While we only ranked the top 10 antivirus programs, we still reviewed the other four programs we tested. If your computer is infected with malware, we recommend seeking out a professional to help remove the viruses. Most local computer stores have professionals on hand who can remove malware for you or can recommend someone close by. Once your computer is clean, you should install a good antivirus program like Bitdefender Antivirus Plus.

This will keep the system clean by blocking malware from downloading and infecting your computer, to begin with. The biggest factor we considered while testing antivirus programs is how well it stops your computer from becoming infected. And using over live malware samples, we found that most antivirus programs do a really good job of stopping all kinds of threats. Basic antivirus software tends to be pretty sparse on features.

Best overall antivirus suite

Beyond malware protection, most programs also include phishing scheme detection and safe browsing tools. But more advanced security features, like firewalls, password managers and safe banking tools, are left for the pricier internet security suites. Bitdefender includes many of these with its basic antivirus program so you get optimum security at a decent price. These typically come with three or more user licenses and include additional protection features like password managers, safe banking features, VPNs and mobile security.

The best free antivirus software

This depends on the current sales promotion. There are some companies, such as AVG and Avira , that offer free antivirus programs with fewer features. These include parental controls, vulnerability detection, automatic gaming mode and a VPN. Other companies that offer a free antivirus solution include Norton, Bitdefender and Panda, but they are pretty bare-boned compared to Avira, Avast and AVG.

The biggest drawback of free antivirus programs, besides the lack of security tools, is the number of pop-up ads asking you to upgrade to the paid version.


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  • The protection is the same for free antivirus as it is for the pricier internet security programs offered by the same company, but the paid programs do come with more tools, like a personal firewall, vulnerability detection and password managers. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus also has a data sharing program that allows the software to send information about viruses, Trojans, rootkits and other malware found on your computer back to its databases. This is a way to keep tabs on new threats and pass along protection to other Bitdefender users before the malware becomes a cyber outbreak.

    However, you can turn off this feature altogether from the Bitdefender dashboard if it worries you.

    Your smartphone should come with a standard antivirus program preinstalled, such as Lookout on Android devices. These programs, if you keep them updated, are usually sufficient to keep viruses off your phone. Programs such as Kaspersky Internet Security , Norton Security Premium and Trend Micro Maximum Security include Android and iPhone compatible protections and additional security tools that make mobile devices a little more secure.


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    • These include password managers, antiphishing functions and spam filters. Norton and McAfee are two of the top antivirus programs based in the United States, and both are very secure programs with great security tools. We can confidently recommend both McAfee and Norton as good antivirus solutions. There are some differences between them, however. McAfee scores higher in overall protection with a perfect percent, and Norton comes close with 98 percent. Both programs come with extra security tools like spam filters, secure delete, secure browsing and vulnerability scanners.

      McAfee does include a few additional tools, most importantly a personal firewall and parental controls. Norton includes these with its premium security program. The other big difference is how easy each program is to install and the amount of resources each takes from your computer to run. Overall, we felt that Norton was a little easier to figure out than McAfee. Most antivirus software competes with other protection programs, so you need to uninstall your old program before installing a new one. Also, antivirus programs take up substantial memory, and having two installed will cause your computer to run much slower.

      Anti-Malware

      During the installation process, most programs perform a scan to see if any other antivirus software or components are already installed, and they will either uninstall the old program for you or prompt you to uninstall it manually. However, there are a couple programs that work in tandem with other antivirus software. Both AVG and Avast work alongside other protection software to add a second layer of security, catching threats your main program may miss.

      If you install Avast or AVG as a secondary antivirus program, make sure to install it after your main antivirus.

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      Otherwise, your primary program will require you to uninstall it before completing the installation process. It includes password managers, data backup, both antispam and antiphishing tools, and web controls to keep tabs on what your employees are doing online. However, keep in mind that there has been some suspicion about Kaspersky using its security programs to gather sensitive information and spy on government employees, even in their own homes.

      It also includes a vulnerability scanner to help keep all software on your computers updated and plug up any hole where hackers and ransomware could sneak in. Avast also monitors your webcams to ensure no one is accessing them without permission. Firewalls inspect the packets of information coming through your internet connection and block those that are harmful.