Computers have changed nearly every aspect of our lives in every aspect, from helping students learn, to monitoring patients in hospitals, and monitoring critical manufacturing processes. Cyberthreats such as ransomware, viruses, and malware have also increased due to the increased dependence on computers. Antivirus software is designed to detect these threats and prevent their destruction of your PC or stealing personal information.

When you are choosing an antivirus program take into consideration its ability to scan for viruses and whether it is equipped with an firewall and how it does in independent lab tests. You can also look at its customer service and how often it updates and the number of devices it is able to secure. Certain programs, such as Norton come with additional features that help protect your online privacy and prevent identity theft.

The best programs provide a variety of protection options. They include heuristic detection which identifies behaviors that are typical of malware or viruses as well as signature matching, which compares files against a list of known malicious code. Some programs use sandboxing to isolate suspicious files in a virtual environment that is secure and in a safe place where they are not able to do any harm.

Many of the top antivirus programs are available for free, though they may not include as many additional features as paid versions. Bitdefender’s premium version comes with parental controls, a file shredder and password manager, but its free version scored highly and comes with firewall. In the same way, Malwarebytes’ free version earned top marks in AV-Test for 2023 however it fell short in our test of usability. Intego Mac Security X9 offers powerful tools such as VirusBarrier and NetBarrier. They was able to identify and eliminate the majority of malware threats we tested.