The best protection against viruses and malware is reliable, up-to-date, antivirus software. Fortunately, there are a lot of AV software to choose from that are good at their job. However, to answer the question ‘which antivirus should I use?’, it’s best to have at least a basic understanding of how antivirus (AV) software works as well as what features the best ones offer.
Antivirus software runs in the background on your computer, scanning, and checking, in real-time, every file and program you download for viruses and malware. The primary scanning techniques used by antivirus software are the following:
- Signature-based detection, which looks for certain known patterns or malicious instructions and compares them to a signature database of known threats.
- Heuristics-based detection, which scans for threats by using rules and algorithms to identify commands that might indicate malicious intent.
- Behavioral detection, which identifies threats by evaluating a file’s behavior, such as abnormal requests for access to files, processes, or services, for suspicious activities.
If the AV software identifies a threat, using one of these detection methods, it will send an alert and stop the file or program from executing and put it into quarantine.
In addition to real-time scanning, the best antivirus programs should also include the following features:
- All inclusive protection – AV software should protect against viruses, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, Trojans worms, network attack, web threats, and adware.
- Browser protection and anti-phishing toolbars that protect against phishing sites.
- A child filter that blocks access to sites that are inappropriate for children.
- Email protection that recognizes spam and helps stop you from opening it.
- Patch management for making sure that third-party applications such as Adobe Acrobat are secure and up-to-date so that hackers can’t exploit their weaknesses.
- An intuitive interface that is easy to understand and operate.
- Minimal impact on your computer’s performance.
- Good technical support options.