Whether you use your computer, whether occasionally or regularly, to surf the Internet or to work offline, you need to install and keep your antivirus up-to-date.

Computers can become infected even if they are connected only to an internal network; public, government, even military networks can all become infected.

An anti-virus programme is indispensable, your best bet to avoid changing your electronics every week.

If you surf a lot on the Internet, you will soon realize the benefits of maximum protection: with a better understanding of the stakes of mobile security, you will see why you need to protect your computers. Finally, this article will compare different antivirus programmes to help you in your choice.

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Understanding How Computers Become Infected

This is one of the basics your computer classes are sure to cover. Today, there is next to no point of using a disconnected computer.

In fact, it is almost impossible. Everyone and everything is connected one way or another, whether through the Internet, a local network so you and your spouse can both use the wireless printer or stream videos, or quite simply by inserting a CD-ROMUSB stick, external hard drive, mobile phone or even, if you like, a floppy disk. As soon as an external medium is contaminated, it can infect your computer.

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USB sticks can propagate viruses.
USB sticks can transfer viruses from one computer to another, so be sure to scan them regularly. Photo on VisualHunt

These connections are necessary if you want to import or export data, whether it be spreadsheets for work or the holiday pictures you want to burn on a CD for your aunt. Yet the simple act of inserting a USB stick into a slot can be the source of a lot of aggravation if your computer is not sufficiently protected - and can even cause Windows to crash completely.

Any programme can be targeted by a virus, though web browsers are very common targets, which is why it’s important to install a firewall.

An ideal antivirus should be able to recognize and counter any sort of intrusion by polymorphic spyware, whether it be multiple infections, corrupted files…

An antivirus analysis should end with the suppression of the virus or its quarantine (especially if host files are infected.)

Why Companies Should Lose No Time in Buying Antivirus Software

You often see news reports on yet another cyberattack or evidence of other types of cyberterrorism. Indeed, a modern country’s defense is immaterial as well as military, and many armies in developed countries have a specialised section for dealing with Trojans and other malware programmes.

Remember in 2017 when multinationals throughout the world lost hundreds of gigabytes of data, their computer devices laid low for almost a fortnight?

A message on their screens said: “Ooops, your important files are encrypted.” This wasn’t the simple destruction of data that previous viruses had been known for, but ransomware: a type of malware that holds your data ransom.

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Ransomware is dangerous for companies.
Wannacry, the virus that held multinational companies for ransom, is not the only piece of ransomware out there. Photo credit: Christiaan Colen on VisualHunt.com

Unlike physical ransom crimes, the criminals weren’t exploiting a physical or emotional weakness (such as kidnapping a family member); instead, the hackers targeted immaterial elements, the loss of which would represent a significant financial loss for the user, one even more important than the sum demanded for their restitution.

Employees of those companies with insufficient web security had a surprise holiday - or forced unemployment, depending on your point of view - but a repeat of this sort of digital piracy could destroy a company, bringing it to its knees and causing mass bankruptcies and lay-offs.

Why You Should Have A Virus Protection Programme as a Private User

Private uses will also need optimum protection, not only for their computers, but for their smartphones and tablets as well.

It’s never fun to realise that your high-end Android tablet has crashed, to lose all the pictures you have taken or find out that your bank account has unusual drafts on it that you certainly never authorised - just because you never bothered to get adequate Internet protection.

In fact, for a Windows PC, even a mediocre free software is better than nothing at all.

If we seem to be emphasizing Windows, it’s because it is by far the most common operating system in both time and space, and one of the first to have attracted the attention of cybercriminals who take advantage of the freedom (which soon became “faults”) of your PC operating system.

The PC/Mac feud (or Mac/PC, depending on which side you are on) is fought not only in the purely commercial arena of which one has cornered which market, but also on which one is best in preventing and detecting viruses.

It is a common misconception that an Apple computer cannot be infected: OS X is no longer safe from Trojans, and it is just as important to install an antivirus to protect yourself on a Mac.

Even Macs can be infected.
Even Apple Macs can get viruses - so don't forget to keep your security updated! Photo credit: bob august on Visualhunt.com

Currently, Linux (GNU) is probably the operating system of choice if you want to be safe: in fact, many a cyberpirate probably works with its user interface…

But you should probably be careful with Bliss, File, VIT, and SIILOV as well. And it’s only the beginning - soon, anti-spyware programmes will be indispensable for every operating system, as Android users have sadly realised.

Some Anti-Malware Programmes and Other Free Security Software

Free viruses are a given and one we would rather do without. On the other side of the coin, good-quality antivirus programmes can be pretty expensive.

And yet, among the best antivirus software available for your Windows operating system, more than one is free (entirely or in part).

The best free antivirus programmes are called (depending on your needs and preferences):

  • Avira, an antivirus programme for Windows
  • AVG, with a free version (the best if you are still running Vista; and it also has features for optimizing your PC)
  • Avast (not the Pro version)
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Windows Defender (particularly for Windows 10)
  • Panda Free Antivirus

If you feel you can’t trust a free antivirus programme, most paying versions offer a free trial period so you can see if your apps run smoothly with it before getting out your credit card. Most trial periods run about a month before you are asked to pay.

Be careful of fake antivirus software that can be spyware in disguise. And note as well that Avast Free’s very proactive programming makes it difficult to run secondary antimalware programmes in parallel.

Internet security is so complex that you should really look into additional security apps such as:

  • Spybot Search & Destroy (PC antivirus and anti-malware in one)
  • Malwarebytes (has a free version for MacOS)
  • CCleaner
  • Ghostery, an ad blocker and anti-spyware programme.

Remember to scan your system regularly (don’t wait until it slows down!) to get rid of infections that might have slipped in unnoticed.

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The Best Payed Antivirus Programmes

You will need a halfway decent RAM to run a virus cleaner on your smartphone!

If a free virus programme might be enough for private users, any corporate structure, from tiny startup to large multinational, should invest in a wider set of security tools to prevent crashes in mini-networks, servers or internal company networks. This is where the paying anti-virus solution comes in.

Kapertsky is a good antivirus.
Kapertsky is one of several good paying antivirus programmes. Photo credit: david.orban on VisualHunt

But what are the best antivirus software?

All comparative studies on the best security software generally turn up the same few names:

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus (with more features than Bitdefender free, obviously)
  • Kaspersky Antivirus
  • Norton Security+
  • G Data Antivirus
  • ESET NOD32
  • F-Secure SAFE
  • McAfee Antivirus Plus (there is also a free edition available for a limited time)

Human Error?

Generally, the principal at fault in Windows 8 or webbrowser glitches is the human user.

Protecting yourself from spyware is a good thing - however, a lot of Internet fraud still uses traditional methods that have nothing to do with Web 2.0, such as identity theft and taking advantage of human generosity…

There are a number of good reflexes you should adopt parallel to downloading a good antivirus for Mac or a good Windows antivirus.

First of all, make sure your firewall is activated. You should also update Windows regularly: most patches aim to help protect the hard drive - which is why XP and Vista are now particularly at risk, since technical support for these Windows versions has been discontinued.

Be wary of freeware with data files ending in “.exe” (especially if you got it from a P2P network : the best behaviour is prudence. If you notice your computer slowing down after installing freeware, immediately put it into quarantine or de-install it.
An anti-spam filter would be useful, even if you are using GNU/Linux. Don’t forget to format your USB sticks and use backup software (or backup your files manually at regular intervals).

You can lock your session with passwords to protect your most precious data.

When you have a family, parental control helps keep your child away from shady, virus-infected websites. Additionally, your browser, no matter how sophisticated, should be regularly updated.


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