Take Your Online Security Seriously
Using the internet comes with its own set of dangers. The web is full of malicious content and programs, often called malware or viruses. This malicious software can bring serious harm to your computer or phone.
Malware can slow down your computer, corrupt your files or even steal your personal information. Viruses pose a real threat and tangible danger to your online experience.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to mitigate that risk, and there is plenty of available software for protection. The best virus protection comes in the form of careful practices and helpful programs — let’s take a look at some of them here to keep your computer safe from malicious viruses.
What Is a Virus?
Viruses are malicious computer programs that harm your computer and can replicate themselves to infect other devices. Viruses can come in all shapes and sizes — from email attachments and zip files to infected web pages and pop-ups to hidden pieces of code attached to legitimate software.
Viruses are always malicious but vary in complexity, danger and the way they work. Some viruses are only a nuisance — they may slow down your computer or change your homepage — but others are a real danger.
Spyware and keyloggers can track your activity and allow hackers to steal your personal information, identity or important passwords. Trojans or Trojan horse viruses are disguised as harmless programs but open up your system to further harm.
In the arms race of digital security, viruses are getting more advanced and dangerous each day. To stay safe, you have to take precautions and get proper anti-virus software.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Viruses?
There are plenty of steps you can take to make your online experience safer. Always keep your operating system up to date — all modern operating systems feature safety and protection measures. They may not offer enough protection on their own, but they contribute to your overall safety.
When browsing the internet, be careful with pop-up windows or ads. A lot of viruses are hidden in pop-ups, so it’s imperative not to click on them.
When surfing the web, visit only secure HTTPS websites. The address bar of secure sites always begins with https or has a closed lock icon. If you’re unsure of a website’s authenticity, do a web search on it beforehand and avoid clicking on ads.
Websites that contain illegal software download links, pornographic content or “free rewards” are often malicious and full of viruses. Avoid them and be extremely careful.
Peer-to-peer websites and programs that are used to download torrents can also be very dangerous. In general, any sort of online piracy is very risky and unsafe. To remain secure, stay away from these websites and programs.
Never reply to spam mail in your inbox. Viruses are often delivered in the form of email attachments — never open attachments from addresses you don’t recognize. If you do, you run the risk of your email account being hijacked and used to spam all your contacts.
Never provide personal information, passwords, credit card numbers or banking information via email — no reputable service will ask for that information. If an email contains a link, always preview the link address by hovering your mouse over it.
A lot of viruses function by offering you a link and then misdirecting you to a malicious website. If an email is suspicious, check for spelling errors and the address of the sender. Use a different password for every site, and change your passwords every three months.
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Best Anti-Virus Software
Best Free Virus Protection
The best approach to protecting your computer is having multiple layers of defense. For starters, download a reputable anti-virus program. Kaspersky, Avast, Avg, Avira and Bitdefender all offer fantastic free versions of their software. Pair one of these programs up with a good ad-blocker.
Blocking ads and pop-ups will make your web browsing much more secure. Popular browser extensions for blocking ads include Adblock, Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin.
To finish it off, add another free program such as Malwarebytes or Hitmanpro. Both of these programs are great for finding malicious software that better-known programs can miss. Always keep your anti-virus software up to date, and your databases and definitions updated.
Best Virus Protection for Android
Android is the biggest operating system for mobile devices. This makes it a valuable target for malicious software. The Android OS does have built-in protection, but you need to install additional programs to stay safe.
These programs will ensure your device is regularly scanned, and will actively protect you from malicious web pages or files.
Avast offers a free program for Android called Avast Mobile Security. It features call-blocking, anti-theft features, a firewall, remote locking and the ability to lock certain apps with a PIN.
AVL and Bitdefender offer similar programs that are lightweight and won’t affect the performance of your mobile device too much. The downside is that you have to schedule scans or manually run them with these options.
Best Virus Protection for iPhone
IPhones are designed with security in mind. The iOS operating system has fantastic built-in security features. But to be on the safe side, check out apps such as Avira Mobile Security, Avast Security & Photo Vault and Lookout.
They offer protection from phishing, robust backup features, vulnerability scans and will automatically scan WiFi networks to check if they are secure.
The built-in protections of the iPhone may give you a false sense of security, however; always practice safe browsing habits and be careful.
Best Virus Protection for Windows
Microsoft Defender, the built-in anti-virus software for Windows 10, does a fantastic job on its own. Get familiar with this program and the advanced options it offers. Download Windows updates regularly. Norton 360, McAfee AntiVirus Plus and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 offer a wide range of options to defend your PC.
The cost of buying these programs isn’t too high when you factor in parental controls, a personal firewall and spam filter, as well as active protection measures. Most of these programs also offer a password management feature, and some also offer a VPN for safer and more private browsing.
Best Virus Protection for Mac
Like iPhones, Mac computers are well-known for being secure and practically immune to viruses. While this claim to immunity may be a bit of an exaggeration, MacOS is more secure than Windows. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take additional precautions.
Make sure to regularly update your Mac’s built-in security features. These features include Gatekeeper, XProtect and a malware removal tool.
In terms of extras, Sophos Home Premium, Intego Mac Internet Security X9, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac and Norton Security Deluxe are all great options for further securing your computer. These also have features such as parental controls, built-in VPNs, location-based firewalls and web-cam spying protection.