Computers have changed nearly every aspect of our lives for students, from helping them learn how to learn, to monitoring patients in hospitals, and monitoring crucial manufacturing processes. Cyberthreats like ransomware, viruses, malware and other malware have also increased because of the increased reliance on computers. Antivirus software is designed to identify these threats and prevent them from damaging your PC or stealing personal information.

When selecting an antivirus software be sure to consider its virus scanning capabilities, whether it has a firewall, and how it performs in independent laboratory tests. You might also want to look at its customer support, the frequency it updates itself and the number of devices it can safeguard. Certain programs, such as Norton, have additional features that help protect your online privacy and help prevent identity theft.

Top programs offer multiple protection options. They offer heuristic detection which identifies behaviors that are typical of viruses or malware as well as signature matching, which compares files with a list of known malicious codes. Some programs also use sandboxing to block dangerous files and puts them in a safe virtual environment where they can’t cause harm.

Some of the best antivirus software is available for free. However, they may not have as many features as paid-for alternatives. For instance, Bitdefender’s free version performed well in our tests. It also has a firewall, while its premium version includes parental controls along with a file shredder as well as a password manager. Malwarebytes, whose free version received top marks in the AV Test for 2023, was not able to pass our test of usability. Intego Mac Security X9 offers an impressive set of tools, including VirusBarrier and NetBarrier, which removed and identified the most malware-related threats during our test.

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