5 Features You Definitely Need in Your Antivirus Software | You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last 20 years to not know that you need antivirus protection for your computer and devices, but which software is the best? There are dozens of different offerings, and while many programs are replete with frills and embellishments, there’s just no beating the basics. Whether you’re choosing a free or a paid version, it’s vital that any antivirus software you use have at least these five fundamental features.
1) Spam and Phishing Protection
Most spam emails won’t do you much harm, other than cluttering up your inbox and making it hard to single out the real emails that you want to read. But not all spam emails are innocent advertisements. Many are phishing attacks that seek to steal your login credentials for a banking or shopping website by directing you to a fake version of the site. A strong spam filter will protect you from both by keeping suspicious emails out of your inbox entirely.
Of course, some phishing emails might still get through, and it’s important to know how to identify a phishing email. But it’s safest to minimize your contact with these messages, because it only takes a brief lapse in judgment to let yourself get taken in.
2) Malware Protection
Malware includes viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, and other malicious code designed to infect your system, either to steal data, or use your machine and its resources to mine bitcoin or participate in a botnet attack. Robust antivirus software will prevent malware infection by monitoring file downloads and comparing them against a database of threat definitions. Some programs can detect system behaviors that could indicate an undiagnosed infection, which can happen when you catch a virus or other malware infection that hasn’t been discovered yet. A strong program will regularly update its threat definitions to keep newly discovered malware from slipping through the cracks.
3) Secure Web Browsing
Malicious websites can pose a huge threat to your system. You could get malware just by visiting the wrong website. You need an antivirus program that can identify unauthorized or dangerous websites before your web browser opens them. Secure web browsing protects your system from malware and your data from hackers who might be able to steal it while you’re browsing.
4) Password Management
While hackers do use viruses and malware to infiltrate devices, accounts, and networks every day, they just as often gain illegal access to accounts and data by stealing login credentials or buying them on the dark web, or simply forcing access with a password cracker. Strong password hygiene is the best way to protect yourself from these kinds of attacks. Use a strong, unique password for each account, so that if hackers get access to one account, your other accounts are still safe. Change your passwords every 90 days so that if someone does buy your data on the dark web, it will be of limited usefulness (and, hopefully, it will be outdated by the time such purchase is even complete).
Of course, keeping track of a dozen or so different account usernames and passwords can be overwhelming. Password management features allow you to generate new passwords easily, store login credentials and notes about security questions, and keep your passwords handy. It’s even easier than using the same password for everything, and so much safer.
5) Firewall Protection
A good firewall monitors traffic coming and going on your network, and lets you know when a threat is incoming or when someone is trying to grab data from one of your devices. A good firewall produces a comprehensible, clearly written alert when an incoming threat is detected or a breach is discovered. Of course, it will also stop the theft of data or block the malware from accessing your network.
If you’re going to pay for antivirus software, you should make sure it has the features you need — and, frankly, even if you’re not going to pay for antivirus software, it should still have some basic features to protect your devices and data. With the right protection, it’s easy to protect yourself from hackers and avoid malware infection.