An anti-virus program can be critical in assuring that your computer and the assets on it (your credit card, your home information, your social security and so much more) are protected from unwanted threats. Home computers are susceptible to any network probing, especially by unwanted eyes – home computers are typically found on the global network every 2 minutes or so.
Most anti-virus can typically be found for free and perform a great variety of minimum functions, but there are little bells and whistles for each that lets them stand out from each other. Each anti-virus is powerful in its own right, but the success of each of their engines (how well they can detect unwanted and malicious software) varies from lab to lab, with general patterns – cross-referencing the anti-virus that has the features you want across different labs would be the safest bet to understanding just how potent each anti-virus is.
Kapersky is a paid anti-virus, only offering a 30 day trial initially before requiring a registration code or activationt hrough purchasing over the internet. Kapersky’s technology for its anti-virus engine has high marks through various testing procedures, one of which is the Dennis Technology Labs testing (http://www.dennistechnologylabs.com/). Kapersky is fairly reliable in stopping all types of malicious software, which includes adware, malware and spyware among the least – other unwanted software includes rootkits and more advanced types of malicious software.
The 2014 edition of Kapersky anti-virus also includes an on-screen keyboard, which has its sent keystrokes locked down so that only the Kapersky program itself will receive the key strokes, and stop them from being recorded or viewed by unwanted eyes – this obviously has the drawback of requiring a user to click to type. This keyboard is also resilient against even screenshots, not showing up in the typical screen capture methods or software. Kapersky can also be managed remotely when synced to a My Kapersky account, allowing for a user to indicate the computer to start scanning as long as it is powered on; computers can be managed by a web interface or a companion application. Kapersky can also create a Kapersky Rescue Disk that allows for a user to boot into an alternate disk, allowing for recovery of damaged and corrupted operating systems if other methods fail. Kapersky also includes a vulnerability scan, scanning the entire shell of Windows for any vulnerabilities and offering optional patches to stop any new methods of introducing malicious software.
BitDefender is meant to be as unobtrusive as possible, while still offering a tight lockdown of the operating system. The free edition of BitDefender 2014 offers two simple functions – real time protection, and a background scan. Real-time protection is threats against malware, spyware, adware, pop-ups and many more unwanted intrusive threats, while the background scan will scan any connected drives for unwanted software. BitDefender has a free version that offers an upgrade to the full version, which includes many more features. BitDefender, by default, will keep anti-virus alerts off, preferring to not alert the user whenever it blocks unwanted intrusive malware or adware from websites.
BitDefender’s full version offers a few programs and is more flexible than other anti-virus software, allowing for specific types of scans to be scheduled at certain times (allowing for certain drives to be scanned at times and others to be left alone, for loading-intensive work). BitDefender’s full version also offers a BitDefender Wallet option, which is a custom-made browser that is extremely secure and filters information through BitDefender and BitDefender’s security before sending out information over the internet – it’s advised to use this with websites like banking or internet wallets, like PayPal.
Webroot SecureAnywhere is an extremely tiny anti-virus software, weighing in with installations well under both 5 MB and 10 MB; this its big claim to fame, especially since Webroot SecureAnywhere ranks high on the previously mentioned Dennis Technology Labs test, as well as other individual lab tests. Unfortunately, Webroot SecureAnywhere only offers a 24 day trial before requiring a registration code or activation, which can range anywhere from $20 for purchasing the actual disk to $50 for activating online.
Webroot SecureAnywhere’s interface has a centerpiece of a big button labeled “Scan my Computer,” which will report statistics of the latest scan; these include duration of the scan, time scan initiated, as well as if the firewall is on or off at the time. SecureAnywhere will alert you whenever any software is notified, as well as including a built-in popup blocker for any unwanted ads on your favorite internet browser. SecureAnywhere also includes a protected list of applications, which will filter any unwanted connections which can lead to attacks over the network and browser; programs can be added into and removed the protected list of applications, and these applications will have greater network restriction if chosen so by the user. Webroot SecureAnywhere also offers great network information, including a module called My Webroot Anywhere – this a web-based interface that will include information about all computers connected to the same Webroot Anywhere account, and indicated assessed vulnerability of each computer, as well as when the last scan was for each computer.
McAfee is perhaps the most versatile anti-virus, offering software not only on Windows and Mac devices but also offering protection on Android and iOS devices, and even lesser-used operating systems like Linux/Ubuntu. When a user purchases a valid McAfee license, they actually receive several activation codes – the number ranges from three to five, but these codes can be used on a variety of devices to offer protection for up to a year. However, singular devices can use a McAfee 30-day free trial upon successful creation of a new McAfee account.
McAfee provides protection from all the typical bad malicious software, like malware and spyware, but also offers protection against spamming attacks and more advanced attacks, like man-in-the-middle attacks. McAfee can also can an entire network, and as long as a single McAfee device is connected to a network, it can actually scan other devices with the proper permission. McAfee can be installed and used on these network devices as long as one device is activated, but when the activated device is taken offline then all devices with McAfee will no longer be able to actually use the software. McAfee also offers great firewall support, adding an additional layer of support behind the always-included Windows Firewall (or the Mac OS equivalent). McAfee also includes a shredder function, allowing for files from the Recycle Bin to be completely deleted – no traces are left behind for anyone who might want to snoop, or even use software to scan through a hard disk to see what files are left behind after deletion.
Avast is a great anti-virus, offering several tiers, one of which is a free tier – Avast offers a free anti-virus that uses the same engine as its paid anti-viruses. That means the higher tiers of Avast offer additional features that wouldn’t found in the free version, but at no compromise to the security of the free version. Avast did rank weaker amongst all the previous anti viruses in the aforementioned Dennis Technology Labs tests, but a free anti-virus might always be worth checking out, especially at the promise of using the same engines as its paid software.
Avast offers great phishing protection, and will attempt to make the same connection twice – one using the anti-virus software, and then if the anti-virus software receives an okay response, then it will allow for the internet browser to make the connection. Avast’s greatest weakness is in its actual anti-virus engine, not picking up some malicious software – rootkits and adware were its greatest weakness, where it ranked among the weakest of the previously mentioned softwares.
However, once paid for, Avast offers a greater variety of functions including a resident shield that will greater protect its users (like a firewall, but with no overlapping incompatibilities with Windows’ native firewall). Avast also includes access to a VPN tool, offering a three-day trial before requiring a separate subscription. This VPN allows for a user to hide their actual IP address and protect their connection (and information) from any unwanted probing.