If your computer has ever been attacked by a virus, then you probably already understand how important antivirus software can be.
The trouble is that finding antivirus software that fits your needs can be an overwhelming task. Dozens upon dozens of antivirus providers are out there—each offering solutions that may look like they only differ slightly, but that actually vary tremendously. To help you navigate this maze and find a solution to fit your needs, browse this list of the top five features to look for in antivirus software:
What viruses does it protect against?
It may sound obvious, but first and foremost your antivirus software must be able to protect against viruses. This means the ability to:
- Scan and detect all types of malicious programs: Including computer destroying viruses, identity stealing spyware, and problem causing malware.
- Protect against future threats: New viruses are created every minute of every day. This means that the antivirus software you choose must have a detailed plan for staying up to date on evolving threats.
Does it provide protection while you are surfing, shopping or connecting socially?
Even if you never actively download an application or file onto your computer, you are still at risk. In fact, seemingly innocent activities—like reading a news story, connecting on Facebook or shopping online— can open you up to attack. For this reason, it is important to shop for antivirus software solutions that protect against:
- Phishing and spam – A number of fraudulent sites are built for the express purpose of getting you to enter a password, credit card number or social security number. To protect against this, shop for antivirus programs that provide advanced filers for spam and phishing.
- Social media fraud – News feeds and shared articles on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, are full of dangerous links. If social media represents even a small part of your computer activity, look for a solution that scans news feeds, articles and social shares.
Does it provide security specific to children?
Even the most vigilant parent cannot oversee everything his or her child does on the Internet. To complement your watchful eye, look for antivirus programs that offer:
- Parental controls: Search for a solution that allows you to set user specific limits, block inappropriate websites and limit time spent on the Internet.
- Social monitoring: If you are curious as to what your children are doing online, a solution with social monitoring can provide insights into what sites they are visiting and who is interacting with them.
How will it impact performance?
Some antivirus programs will directly impact the performance of your device, running downloads and updates that slow your computer down. For this reason, it is important to shop for software that:
- Runs in the background: Quietly blocking threats without requiring you to restart your computer or navigate through annoying popup windows.
- Improves performance: Look for software that cleans up temporary files, registries, browser history and cookies.
Do you need mobile security?
Finally, malicious software does not only threaten your PC or Mac – it can alsoattack your smartphone or tablet. To protect your mobile devices from data loss, theft and viruses, look for software that offers:
- Protection against data theft and loss: Shop for software that identifies security threats before they attack your device.
- Data backup: From professional contact info to personal photos, your mobile devices contain a lot of irreplaceable information. To protect against loss, look for a solution that offers cloud based storage backup.
Remember, antivirus software is engineered to provide protection against malicious programs capable of attacking your computer, stealing your identity and wreaking havoc. With all this in mind, using a program that provides less than total protection could be taking a major risk with your computer and your sensitive information.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Luigi Rosa