If you’re not using a comprehensive antivirus software solution to protect your home network and devices from hackers and malware, you’re playing with fire. Even if all you do is check social media and write emails, you’re vulnerable to malware, phishing scams, and more. In the first six months of 2020 alone, computer users around the world experienced 2.3 trillion intrusion attempts by hackers, and that represents an uptick of 19 percent when compared with worldwide intrusion attempts in the first six months of 2019.
So, you definitely need antivirus software – but how do you choose one? There are so many different programs and software suites available on the market today, and you need to make sure you buy one that’s compatible with your devices and meets your needs. Here’s how to decide on an antivirus program.
Make Sure It’s Compatible with Your Operating System
Most antivirus software these days is designed to be compatible with multiple operating systems – or at the very least, manufacturers will release different versions of the software for different operating systems. Don’t assume that you’re safe from malware and viruses because you use macOS or Linux – both the Mac and Linux operating systems are vulnerable to viruses and malware. Make sure the antivirus software solution you choose is compatible with your operating system.
Consider How You Use Your Device
All devices will need a basic level of antivirus protection, but whether you can squeak by with a free version or you absolutely need the bells and whistles of a paid suite depends on how you use your devices. If you use them mostly for casual web browsing, social media, and email, you probably don’t need an antivirus program with many features – just the standard protection against malware and viruses, plus protection from malicious websites, email filters, and security for financial transactions. If you have kids in the home, you’re going to need strong parental controls. If you use your devices for work, a secure firewall and antispyware features become necessary.
Protect Your Entire Network
Chances are it’s not just you connecting to your home network – you may have roommates or family members living with you who connect to the network. You probably also have a handful of smart home devices, like smart speakers, smart light bulbs, and smart robot vacuums, for example. It’s not a bad idea for most households to choose a home network security suite that offers protection for the whole network, from the wireless gateway itself to every device connected to it. Such protection can keep hackers from accessing your network or gaining control of your smart devices, including home security cameras.
Look for Email Filters and Download Protection
Phishing scams are among the most common strategies scammers use to gain access to your personal information and login credentials, and most phishing scams come through email or social media. It helps to educate yourself about the signs of a phishing scam, but it’s best if those questionable emails never reach your inbox at all. Phishing scams are getting more sophisticated, and all it takes is a momentary lapse in judgment to fall victim to one.
Antivirus software with email filters protects you from phishing scams and can also weed out other types of spam emails. Download protection protects you from downloading malicious files by accident, or by visiting a malicious website. These two features can go a long way towards keeping your system free of malware and your network safe from hackers.
Prioritize Ease of Use
You need to find antivirus software that doesn’t take up all your free memory and doesn’t slow down your machine. But it also needs to be easy to use. While most antivirus programs these days are designed to operate in the background, protecting your system in real time, you may also need to run occasional malware and virus scans in order to keep your system safe. Some programs come with the option to schedule times to turn the software on and off or to pause it if need be, which can be useful if you’re not always online and don’t want to run your antivirus software all the time. Just make sure that whatever software you buy is user friendly, because you’re unlikely to use an antivirus program that’s confusing or difficult to come to grips with.
No matter what kind of system you’re running you need antivirus software to protect it. Shop carefully and choose a product that meets your needs, so you can continue enjoying the internet without making yourself a target.