The Best Antivirus Software Review & Buyers Guide

Every time you connect your device to a public network, it becomes vulnerable to malware attacks like viruses. The same goes with connecting to the Internet where your device might encounter an attack or bait set up by cybercriminals. Their goal is to storm through your computer and look for important files and useful information for their personal gain.

While more antivirus software solutions become available in the market, cybercriminals also get more serious and clever in creating new malware. Because of this, finding the right software that can detect incoming viruses is important to ensure protection against these attacks.


Comparison Of The 5 Best-selling Antivirus Software

We have rounded up the top five antivirus software available in the market today and compared them according to the features that you should be looking for in an antivirus solution. These features include real-time protection, password management, virtual private network support, parental/administrator control, webcam protection, and sandboxing, all of which are relevant to shield your computer and other devices against viruses and other types of malware.

Product Real-Time Protection Password Manager VPN Parental Control Webcam Protection Sandbox
Norton 360 Premium
    
Kaspersky Anti-Virus
    
Avast Ultimate Suite
    
Avira Antivirus Pro
    
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
    

1. Norton 360 Premium

No. 1 Best Choice

Norton 360 Premium with LifeLock Select offers several unique features for your protection. Apart from real-time threat protection against malware like viruses, this security software comes with LifeLock Identity Alert System. This feature alerts you if someone uses your personal information for credit or services. It also monitors key changes in your credit with a leading credit bureau, notifying you to help in detecting fraud.

Key Features

  • LifeLock Identity Alert System

Norton 360’s LifeLock Identity Alert System prompts if anyone, as well as any application or service, uses your personal information. With this feature, you’ll know if your information is being used for online transactions.

  • Credit Monitoring

Preventing you from being a victim of fraud, this software adds a credit monitoring feature and partners with the credit bureau to track key changes in your account.

  • Million Dollar Protection Package

Not all antivirus software can offer you coverage of funds you’ve lost when availing of their product. In this package, you have up to $25,000 coverage for personal expenses, and up to $1 million coverage to hire experts and lawyers to recover your identity.

  • 100GB Cloud Backup

The Norton LifeLock Select gives you up to 100GB cloud backup for storing important documents and other files on the cloud.


2. Kaspersky Anti-Virus

No. 2 Best Choice

Kaspersky Anti-Virus is a basic antivirus software that comes with a real-time protection system against various forms of malware, primarily viruses. While it provides intensive security against malware, Kaspersky’s performance doesn’t slow down your device and whatever activity you’re doing online. With a simple installation and user-friendly interface, both techie and non-techie users will appreciate running this antivirus on their device.

Key Features

  • Cloud Antivirus Advantage

With the cloud antivirus package, the system pools information from millions of computers to see suspicious trends. This way, it can cross-check signatures in your network and be able to detect if some matches with attacks happened in the past.

  • Cryptolocker Protection

Kaspersky Anti-Virus provides protection against cryptolocker, a trojan horse that searches for files in your drive and encrypts them. Once your files are encrypted, they will force you to pay a ransom to get a decryption key. If you’re running on Windows, you are susceptible to such malware.

  • Password Vault

Just saving your passwords on a doc or text file makes it insecure. The Kaspersky Anti-Virus has a password manager solution that saves all of your passwords with one master password to unlock the vault.


3. Avast Ultimate Suite

No. 3 Best Choice

Avast Ultimate Suite caters to home users and comes with a free version. This security software has intelligence that allows it to monitor malware that behaves like a normal app at first but might go rogue suddenly. If an app seems new or unidentified on your device, Avast’s sandbox isolates it, monitors its behavior, and determines if it’s safe. The sandbox also features a browser that allows you to visit sites without the risk of getting malware from the Internet.

Key Features

  • Sandbox

A sandbox is a virtual space, sort of testing environment which isolates unidentified or untested programs or sources and watching its behaviors before identifying it is safe.

  • SafeZone Browser

Avast’s SafeZone Browser runs in the sandbox. When you’re browsing in the sandbox, files stored in your device are not compromised.

  • Secure DNS

DNS stands for domain name system. Some sites can automatically redirect you to another site (an inauthentic URL) when you visit an authentic one. This feature will protect from fake websites.

  • Behavior Shield

Some malware may probably behave for a couple of days but suddenly go rogue without you noticing. Aside from detecting malware, Avast also makes sure they monitor their behaviors.


4. Avira Antivirus Pro

No. 4 Best Choice

The Avira Antivirus Pro is your best choice at blocking malware and other forms of Internet threats. It displays messages prompting you if a website you are visiting is unsafe or suspicious. Once on a website, Avira’s PUA Shield browser extension works to prevent the downloading of malicious programs into your device. The security software also blocks annoying popups and ads that you do not need on your screen when browsing the Internet.

Key Features

  • PUA Shield

PUA stands for potentially unwanted applications. This is a browser extension that blocks applications from being downloaded into the computer.

  • NightVision Virtual Appliance

Avira’s NightVision Virtual Appliance works like in-house protection. Unlike other antivirus solutions, this one doesn’t upload your data to third-party cloud services while performing malware analysis.

  • Ad Blocker

Avira blocks ads that might contain malware that stays on your device even if you already left a website. Ad blocking also speeds up your browsing because ads are no longer eating up a lot of data.

  • Browser Tracking Blocker

Companies and organizations no longer can install invisible trackers with the browser tracking blocker. Avira has millions of malicious sites blocked, detecting spam attacks regularly.


5. BitDefender Antivirus Plus 2020

No. 5 Best Choice

BitDefender Antivirus Plus is a lightweight software but has all the heavyweight features that you need from an antivirus solution. With its very own Photon Technology, BitDefender employs cloud-based techniques when scanning malware like viruses without causing your device to slow down. After malware detection, the security software cleans your hard drive and its partitions. You don’t have to reboot after cleaning.

Key Features

  • File Shredder

If you want to remove an unwanted file from your system, BitDefender has a File Shredder feature that removes data physically from your hard drive.

  • Game, Movie & Work Modes

Gamers will be likely to enjoy BitDefender as it has a mode feature where during a game, movie, or work, you can postpone scans, automatic updates, and notifications.

  • BitDefender Photon Technology

BitDefender uses Photon Technology cloud-based techniques when scanning for malware. Employing this approach, this security software doesn’t cause your device to slow down.

  • Rescue Mode

With Rescue Mode, you can clean up your drive and other partitions on your computer. One primary advantage of this feature is that you no longer have to reboot your computer every time it removes malware before restart.


What Is An Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software detects and eradicates viruses and other types of malware that can enter your computer or your network. There are different filtering abilities that antivirus software has to do this. One of the most used is manual scanning of files and programs on your computer. It should be able to keep a database of these virus signatures so that when a specific signature is detected, the software can conclude that it is unsafe.

Why Do You Need Antivirus Software?

One way cybercriminals can invade your computer is by selling your information to organizations that can exploit your data. They can also use your bank account details to make unauthorized transactions, or even hold them hostage so you have to buy it back from them. Even safe websites have viruses as part mainly of marketing strategies to monitor your activity and sell the right products to you. You need antivirus software to protect you from all these threats and guard you against any Internet activity that tries to get your info without your permission.

Can I Get An Antivirus For Free?

Antivirus and other antimalware solutions can be downloaded and installed for free as a trialware, freeware, or a bundled feature within another security software. Trialware versions of antivirus and other antimalware products like anti-spyware, anti-Trojan, and Internet security software applications can remain active for a period of time. Trialware allows you to evaluate an antivirus or antimalware application’s compatibility with your home or business network’s needs. Upon the end of the trial period, you will be given a choice to uninstall or continue using the software the antivirus through a fee-based subscription.

Meanwhile, antivirus software may also come as a standalone freeware or as part of another free security software solution. These free versions share similarities with their paid counterparts, being equipped with cutting-edge features that can block and remove viruses and other forms of malware like spyware, Trojans, and worms.

Free antivirus software offerings provide you with the benefits of convenience and real-time protection from Internet threats with automatic updates and anti-phishing features. They can work well with your computer or mobile device without making it run slow and hogging its resources. If you need to know more about these free antivirus software that you may download from the Internet and run on your device, read our review of some of the best free antivirus this 2020.

Signs Of Computer Virus Infection

If you come across any of these warning signs, there’s a high chance that a virus infects your computer. If you suspect that your computer has an infection, you can perform preliminary steps by working in safe mode, disconnecting from the Internet, and performing a Disk Cleanup before running the antivirus scanner.

– Slower system performance

– Frequent crashes

– New files installed on their own

– Corrupted files and folders

– Programs running on their own

– Popups bombarding the screen

– Locked out of certain settings like Control Panel

– Spam emails

– Disabled security software

– Suspicious shortcut files

10 Most Common Types of Viruses Affecting Computers

Through the years, cybercriminals and even unwary programmers have intentionally and unintentionally created different computer viruses with varying impacts on systems across the globe. Here are some of the most common types that are affecting computers today.

Boot Sector Virus

This virus infects floppy disks and spreads through removable media. It often requires you to reformat the drive to get rid of the virus.

Direct Action Virus

This non-resident virus stays hidden in the computer memory infecting .exe and .com files. There’s no effect on user experience and system’s performance, but it affects files and folders that it’s in.

Polymorphic Virus

This virus alters its signature whenever it replicates, making it difficult to identify with signature searches.

Resident Virus

This virus gets installed on the computer and lives in the RAM. It interferes with the system’s operation and corrupts files.

Overwrite Virus

This virus overwrites the content of the file causing you to lose the original content. You will also have to delete the file to get rid of the virus.

File Infector

This virus lives in executable programs and once you run these programs, the virus gets activated causing your computer to slow down.

Stealth Virus

This virus appears like a normal file or a program. It can temporarily remove itself from the program, so some antivirus software can’t detect it.

Encrypted Virus

This virus uses codes making them hard to detect and the only way to track them is during replication and decryption. Encrypted viruses badly affect PC performance.

Browser Hijacker

This virus brings you to different infected websites infecting your web browser. Most trusted browsers have tools to block these types of viruses.

Web Scripting Virus

This virus carries malicious codes and directs you to malicious websites.

Top 10 Most Popular/ Dangerous/ Widespread Computer Viruses

Some of the most dangerous and widespread computer viruses were not intentionally made to cause harm. However, their rapid spread caused panic among companies, resulting in operational disruption that valued millions of dollars spent to control them.

#1 ILOVEYOU

The ILOVEYOU virus affected almost 10% of the world’s computers, forcing the government and big corporations to pause their mailing system to prevent infection. The creators of the ILOVEYOU virus, two Filipino programmers by the name of Reonel Ramones and Onel de Guzman, used social engineering, a case of love confession to trick people into clicking on an email attachment. Once a user clicks on the TXT file, which is a script, it can send the script to the user’s mailing list.

#2 CODE RED

They named code Red as two digital security employees were drinking Code Red Mountain Dew when they discovered the virus. The worm runs on memory and has only 3,569 bytes, leaving very little trace but can double itself with a bug in the programming. It affected a whopping two million servers out of six million ISS servers.

#3 CRYPTOLOCKER

Cryptolocker is a Trojan horse ransomware that spreads itself in different ways and encrypts files on the hard drive. People who paid to get their files decrypted amounted to three million. Eventually, they charged the creator Evgeniy Bogachec and made him release the encryption keys that affected the computers.

#4 STUXNET

The Israel Defense Force worked together with the American government to create Stuxnet, a virus for cyber warfare that they created to disrupt Iranians’ nuclear efforts. They have successfully done so, ruining one-fifth of Iranian centrifuges.

#5 SASSER AND NETSKY

Sasser and Netsky were created by computer science student named Sven Jaschan. These viruses took advantage of a buffer overflow in the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service on Windows, leading to millions of computer infections that affected airlines, news agencies, hospitals, public transport, etc.

#6 STORM WORM

The Storm worm posed as a news-containing email with a subject line “230 dead as storm batters Europe.” Again, intrigued by the news, people will click on the email and once they do, they will receive a huge amount of spam emails.

#7 THE MORRIS WORM

Robert Morris, who at the time was a graduate student at Cornell, created the first worm that distributes via the Internet. He was also the first to get sued under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

#8 MYDOOM

MyDoom has been the fastest spreading virus next to ILOVEYOU. The creator is unknown and with a message containing, “andy; I’m just doing my job, nothing personal, sorry” seems like the creator was just paid to do it. Aside from spreading itself to the user’s mailing list who clicks on the email like ILOVEYOU, it also opens a backdoor for remote access. A McAfee employee discovered it with a line in the code containing ‘mydom’ in the script. Predicting that it would be big, they later named the virus as ‘mydoom.’

#9 ANNA KOURNIKOVA

The tennis player Anna Kournikova had nothing to do with the creation of this virus, but tennis sports and Kournikova were such a big hit and were the most searched term on the Internet. Jan De Wit, a 20-year-old Dutch, took advantage of this and created a virus joke. People click on anything that relates to the name. He eventually turned himself in. The town’s mayor though had a different plan for him in mind, offering him a job as a techie after he graduates.

#10 WANNACRY

The WannaCry virus only lasted for days but spread across 200 to 300 thousand computers worldwide. It uses backdoor exploitation to spread to computers, and then hold files for ransom.

Things To Consider When Choosing Antivirus Software

Whether you’re a typical consumer or an IT professional who’s managing a company’s IT network, you must take into account some pointers when buying an antivirus software solution. Here are some factors to consider before making a decision and shelling out that hard-earned money.

Real-Time Protection

It’s not enough that you find antivirus software that performs scheduled scans to look for unsafe programs you might have downloaded and installed on your PC. What you should look for is the one that prompts that you might be vulnerable to some threats.

Device Compatibility

Some antivirus software solutions aren’t compatible with every operating system that you are probably using. Best to check the compatibility of the software with your device before you decide to buy one.

Secure VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) uses encryption to hide you from cybercriminals when you are connecting to and browsing the Internet. What a VPN does is mask your identity and location to make you safe from any threats.

DNS Protection

DNS hijacking directs you to an inauthentic website when you visit an authentic one. You should also look for DNS protection so you know you’re safe from sharing your info in an almost similar website that you thought was the real one.

Webcam Protection

Camfecting is widespread, and it’s been a persistent problem as these are attacks that don’t invade your bank info but your privacy, taking whatever footage they like for their amusement.

Anti-Phishing

Anti-phishing software has programs that identify phishing content in websites, emails. Having this feature gives you a warning when you are about to give out information from phishing.

Ongoing Support

When you encounter some issues with the software, you will want to call for support from the solution company. Some software solutions won’t offer this and you are better off finding a product with additional help.

Price

It’s also worth weighing the prices offered as some will be cheaper than others but will require additional bucks to maintain or to have as many features as you needed.