With more than a quarter of a million new malicious programs being detected every single day, it’s painfully clear that everybody needs the protection of a good antivirus product.
However, choosing the best antivirus software in 2018 is easier said than done. From barebones products to feature-laden security suites and everything in between, there are so many options on today’s market that it can be difficult to know which antivirus software is right for you.
You can safely cross the antivirus software off your list if it doesn’t meet the following criteria…
1. Detection rates
When it comes down to it, the most important factor when choosing antivirus software is how well it can protect your system against both known and unknown threats. Given that there are so many vendors that can provide protection rates well above the 95 percent mark (for example, test products in a recent AV-Comparatives analysis scored a median of 99.95 percent!), there really is no excuse to go with a vendor that offers substandard security. Be wary of any antivirus software that consistently scores poorly on independent tests (more on this later!) and don’t hesitate to cross repeat offenders off your list.
2. Layered protection
As malware continues to grow more complex, it’s no longer safe to rely solely on a real-time guard that simply scans files for known threats. Instead, look for antivirus software that incorporates multiple layers of protection into its defense system. A web protection component, for example, can be useful for blocking connections to dodgy websites and preventing malware from touching your system. Emsisoft Anti-Malware takes the multi-layered approach to the next level by using dual scanner technology to maximize the chances of detecting and removing any suspicious software, and additionally incorporates a behavior blocker.
3. Behavior blocker
Signature-based scanners are great for detecting known threats (that is, malware that has been seen before), but they’re very ineffective when it comes to dealing with zero day attacks (brand new malware). New outbreaks typically hit the globe within minutes and can potentially infect millions of machines before an antivirus vendor can even think about releasing a signature update.
To combat this risk, some vendors make use of behavior blockers, which are able to sniff out patterns of malicious behavior and intercept offending programs before they can make changes to your system. A good behavior blocker is the only technology that can reliably protect you against zero day threats, and should be a critical factor to consider when choosing antivirus software.
4. System impact
There’s little point in choosing an antivirus product that boasts the best detection rates in the world if it slows your system to a crawl every time it runs a scan. This is most commonly a problem with products that are poorly optimized and/or come bundled with a bunch of extra ‘features’ that are aimed to bolster security but do little more than hog your system’s resources. Good antivirus software should be sleek, efficient and have little impact on your regular computer use. This means it should be able to complete a scan quickly and won’t impact your PC’s boot time.
Excellent protection rates are only part of the equation. While antivirus software doesn’t necessarily have to sport a beautiful UI, it should still be easy to use for both tech-savvy and casual users.
The best antivirus software balances form with function. Look for a product which features a user-friendly interface that’s logical to navigate and includes settings that can be easily tweaked to meet your needs. If your prospective antivirus software includes miles of unintuitive menus and options that can’t be deciphered without multiple trips to Wikipedia, it might be time to cross it off the list.