Because the Internet holds so many dangers for children, our award-winning Parental Control features make it easy for you to protect your kids when they go online. Learn about the many different types of malware — and the vast range of malicious software programs within each type.
Malware can’t hide from us
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Want to know more? You can dig in for a detailed description of how we test security software. Antivirus products distinguish themselves by going beyond the basics of on-demand scanning and real-time malware protection. Some rate URLs that you visit or that show up in search results, using a red-yellow-green color-coding system. Some actively block processes on your system from connecting with known malware-hosting URLs or with fraudulent phishing pages.
Software has flaws, and sometimes those flaws affect your security. Prudent users keep Windows and all programs patched, fixing those flaws as soon as possible. The vulnerability scan offered by some antivirus products can verify that all necessary patches are present, and even apply any that are missing. Spyware comes in many forms, from hidden programs that log your every keystroke to Trojans that masquerade as valid programs while mining your personal data.
Any antivirus should handle spyware, along with all other types of malware, but some include specialized components devoted to spyware protection.
You expect an antivirus to identify and eliminate bad programs, and to leave good programs alone. What about unknowns, programs it can't identify as good or bad? Behavior-based detection can, in theory, protect you against malware that's so new researchers have never encountered it. However, this isn't always an unmixed blessing. It's not uncommon for behavioral detection systems to flag many innocuous behaviors performed by legitimate programs.
Whitelisting is another approach to the problem of unknown programs. A whitelist-based security system only allows known good programs to run. Unknowns are banned. This mode doesn't suit all situations, but it can be useful. Sandboxing lets unknown programs run, but it isolates them from full access to your system, so they can't do permanent harm. These various added layers serve to enhance your protection against malware. Firewalls and spam filtering aren't common antivirus features, but some of our top products include them as bonus features.
In fact, some of these antivirus products are more feature-packed than certain products sold as security suites. Among the other bonus features you'll find are secure browsers for financial transactions, secure deletion of sensitive files, wiping traces of computer and browsing history, credit monitoring, virtual keyboard to foil keyloggers, cross-platform protection, and more. You'll even find products that enhance their automatic malware protection with the expertise of human security technicians.
And of course we've already mentioned sandboxing, vulnerability scanning, and application whitelisting. We're seeing more and more antivirus products adding modules specifically designed for ransomware protection.
Some work by preventing unauthorized changes to protected files. Others keep watch for suspicious behaviors that suggest malware. Some even aim to reverse the damage. Given the growth of this scourge, any added protection is beneficial. Your antivirus utility works in the background to keep out any faint possibility of infestation by malware, but its abilities don't extend beyond the bounds of your computer. When you connect to the wild and wooly internet, you risk the possibility that your data could be compromised in transit.
Sticking to HTTPS websites when possible can help, but for full protection of your data in transit you should install a virtual private network, or VPN. This component is important enough that we're starting to see it as a bonus feature in some antivirus tools. Which antivirus should you choose? You have a wealth of options. Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus routinely take perfect or near-perfect scores from the independent antivirus testing labs.
And its unusual behavior-based detection technology means Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus is the tiniest antivirus around. We've named these four Editors' Choice for commercial antivirus, but they're not the only products worth consideration. Read the reviews of our top-rated products, and then make your own decision. Note that we have reviewed many more antivirus utilities than we could include in the chart of top products. If your favorite software isn't listed there, chances are we did review it. The blurbs below include every product that managed 3.
All the utilities listed in this feature are Windows antivirus apps. If you're a macOS user, don't despair, however; PCMag has a separate roundup dedicated solely to the best Mac antivirus software. Editors' Note: We are aware of the allegations of Kaspersky Labs' inappropriate ties to the Russian government. Until we see some actual proof of these allegations, we will treat them as unproven , and continue to recommend Kaspersky's security products as long as their performance continues to merit our endorsement.
Pros: Outstanding scores in independent lab tests and our web protection tests. Multi-layered ransomware protection. Active Do Not Track. Password manager. Banking protection. Offers a virtual private network, or VPN. Many security-centered bonus features. Cons: Unlimited VPN access requires separate subscription.
The Best Antivirus Protection for 12222
With all real-time protection disabled, ransomware-specific features missed one uncommon sample. Pros: Perfect and near-perfect scores from four independent testing labs. Perfect score in our phishing protection test. Good scores in our malware-blocking and malicious URL blocking tests. Full-scale phone and live chat support. Cons: Bonus scans significantly overlap each other.
Pros: Perfect score in our malware protection test. Very good antiphishing score. Ransomware protection.
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Light on system resources. Fast scan, tiny size. Advanced features. Cons: Limited lab test results due to unusual detection techniques. Missed one unique hand-modified ransomware sample in testing. Good scores in hands-on tests. Perfect score in antiphishing test. Includes new ransomware protection and PC Boost, plus many bonus features. Cons: Ransom Guard missed one hand-modified ransomware sample. PC Boost web speedup works only in Chrome. Mac edition less feature-rich than Windows or Android. Still fewer features for iOS. It's quite a deal, and the current edition adds some new and useful features.
Pros: Very good scores from independent testing labs. We spend most of the year testing internet security programs, including antivirus software for Mac.
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We devote hundreds of hours to downloading, using and testing the most popular security programs on multiple devices running different operating systems, including Mac OS, Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7. We test programs that are compatible with mobile operating systems as well. All this helps us understand just how each program works and if any slowdowns, quirks or tools affect performance on each device.
The most important standard is to maintain unbiased. We have developed relationships with several experts in the internet security industry, including security analysts, IT technicians and cybersecurity managers. We also follow security blogs and news outlets, receive monthly newsletters from manufacturers, attend trade shows and do all we can to stay on top of new developments and security breaches within the industry. Devoting this much time over the last 15 years has helped us become a leading expert in antivirus and internet security practices.
This is why you can trust us when it comes to the best antivirus Mac software. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is our top pick because it effectively protects against Mac malware and automatically removes most threats. It scans any portable drive or device that is connected for threats, including mobile devices.
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Blocked 99 percent of the live threats we used and scrubbed most of them from our system automatically. When we tested Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, it blocked 99 percent of the live threats we used and scrubbed most of them from our system automatically. The vulnerability scanner looks for outdated software then gives you a trusted link where you can download the latest patch or version.
This helps cover any weak spots where hackers and ransomware could infiltrate your computer. Bitdefender warns of malicious websites with its safe browsing feature, and it scans USB drives to stop any threats from infecting your computer at that point. There are some tools and features that can only be accessed through the online portal while others are only found on the dashboard. It is also free for home use. It also scans for outdated software since this is one of the biggest ports of for ransomware and hackers.
AVG has phishing blockers and spam filters that keep threats in emails from downloading to your computer or directing you to dangerous sites designed to gather personal information. It is one of the easiest programs to use, with large icons for each tool. Because it is a free program, AVG does have in-program ads that can be distracting. Norton Security is the best antivirus software if you have computers that run different operating systems.
It offers the same level of protection to both Mac and Windows machines, easily detects threats on both, and even detects and removes some Windows malware hidden on Mac machines. It also looks for out-of-date software that may create a weak spot that hackers and ransomware can use to infect your computer. The antivirus program for Mac includes a password manager and banking tools to shield your important information from identity thieves, keyloggers and other internet tracking programs.