Monday, July 22, 2013

Choosing antivirus software

Yesterday, I published an article about steps to take in order to re-install Windows. One of these steps includes the choice of an antivirus.

If you want the best protection and if you're ready to spend money for a good protection, perfect! In this case, my personal choice would be Kaspersky Internet Security (KIS) which is more complete than the basic protection offered by Kaspersky Anti Virus (KAV). The cost for protecting a single computer is crazy high ~35€. But if you know 2 other people who need an antivirus, you can find packages of 3 licences for ~50€, which halves the cost of each individual licence. The reasons I would go for KIS are as follows

  • Kaspersky has been the most consistent in reaching the top 3 antivirus programs for many years
  • It includes a virtual keyboard to make online transactions safer from keyloggers
  • It includes a sandbox mode, which isolates a program from Windows. In other words, it lets you visit  dangerous websites without the risk of compromising your system.
But I'm cheap and I don't have 2 buddies at hand for sharing the licence cost, so I'm going for a free antivirus.

One thing you have to keep in mind before reading further, is that the quality of antivirus software evolves every year as threats evolve and as antivirus editors make choices in how they create their software. So, what is true today will likely not be true anymore next year.

In order to determine which antivirus is the best for you, I recommend you to check websites dedicated to testing and comparing these programs. Here's a selection of such websites for you:

  •  AV Test: choose "home user" and then your version of windows. The latest tests provide a ranking of many antivirus programs.
  • Virus Bulletin displays a graph on which antiviruses are rated against known threats (vertically) and unknown threats (horizontally).

Currently, the leading 3 free antivirus programs are (in alphabetical order):
  • Avast
  • AVG
  • Avira

Microsoft's antivirus (Microsoft Security Essentials) is not recommended due to a lesser efficiency.

One final note

When you opt for a particular antivirus program, you should keep in mind what it does and what it doesn't do. Most if not all of the free antivirus programs DO NOT scan the attachments you receive via email, while the paid-for antiviruses do. So whatever you do, whatever you receive, whatever you download:
scan every single file before you open it!

With computers, if you don't act as if you were paranoid, then you're being careless.

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