The alarming proliferation of malware and cyber attacks, reported almost daily in the news, has generated not only greater awareness of antivirus software but plenty of questions about it as well. One of these questions, ‘What antivirus do I need?’, is one of the most frequently-asked questions, and for a good reason. Knowing which antivirus you need is the first step toward protecting your privacy, With that in mind, below is a checklist of the key features to look for in antivirus software.
Real-time malware detection and removal. This is one of the most important features of any antivirus software as it scans and checks, in real-time, everything you download, looking for viruses and malware. When malware is detected, the infected file is either removed or quarantined.
Automatic virus updates. One way that antivirus or antimalware software detect malware in your computer’s files and programs is by scanning them and checking their ‘signatures’ against a database of known malware signatures. Accordingly, anti-malware companies periodically update their signature database with new malware signatures. Your antivirus software should be automatically updated whenever this signature database is updated so that new virus signatures will also be detected.
Multi-layer protection. In addition to real-time protection, which detects known viruses, antivirus software also needs to be able to detect new and emerging threats. For this, behavioral and heuristic detection methods are used. Behavioral detection analyzes the behavior of programs and files looking for behavior that might be suspicious and indicative of malware, and heuristic detection looks for atypical commands or instructions in applications that might be indicative of malware. In this way, these methods are able to detect previously unknown malware.
A high detection rate. Antivirus software should have a 100% detection rate when malware is present on your system. This may vary depending upon whether scanning is done online or offline, but anything less than 100% leaves your computer vulnerable
Safe browsing technology. Your antivirus should also protect you from navigating to malicious URLs or websites where hackers try to steal and use your personal and private information.
Email protection. According to cyberdefensemagazine.com, 91% of cyber attacks are launched with a phishing email. Your antivirus software should be able to secure your email correspondence and prevent confidential information from falling into the wrong hands by detecting and blocking email threats.
And finally, make sure your antivirus software is easy to install and has a light footprint so that there is negligible impact on your computer’s performance.
While antivirus software features vary between brands, and between paid and free versions, the checklist above can be used as a guide to help you better understand which antivirus you need. If you can check off all of the statements above, then you know you have the right antivirus protection.