Because everyone will encounter some kind of infection on their PC or laptop sometime in the lifetime that they own the item, it is imperative to protect the device from the damage that can be caused by that infection with an anti-virus or anti-malware solution. The problem is, with so many different security programs available form so many different manufacturers, it is difficult to know which program might best suit a specific consumer’s needs.
A good security program should always offer certain features as part of its basic protection package and if it doesn’t, then you may want to consider another program. With this in mind, check how to determine what features an antivirus or anti malware program should offer in its basic package so you can choose the one that is right for you.
What are the Users Habits?
The first thing to do when choosing an anti-virus or anti-malware program is to determine what the user’s habits are when they use the computer. For example, will there be a lot of Internet surfing? Then he or she might want a program with Internet protection. Is the user going to be paying bills and managing their other financial accounts online? If so, then the user might want a program that scans network access and more in depth infections that are easily hidden. Will the user be downloading a lot of software? Then he or she will want a real-time scanner.
Aggressive users would be better off choosing a program that offers the most aggressive features for detection and prevention. If the computer user goes online only occasionally, then he or she might not need so much protection and could possibly get away with using a basic or feature-lite program.
The first thing to look at when choosing an anti-virus or anti-malware program is what kind of features the program offers. Some features should come standard, meaning the program chosen offers the features without having to pay extra for them. Following are some of the basic features that should be included:
Real Time Scanning: Every legitimate anti-virus and anti-malware program detects security threats such as viruses and malware, but some cannot do so in real time and the user must manually scan the computer. This is unacceptable for anyone who is connected to the Internet. Not having real time protection means infections are not detected until it is too late. Having a real time scanner means the program can detect infections before they can infect and damage the computer. Most programs also scan email and user downloads for infections as well.
Automatic Quarantine: In any case, if the program detects an infection, then it should automatically move it to a quarantine area until the user can determine what to do. If the program does not do this, then you might want to look at a different one because it means this program is allowing the infection to roam free where it chooses, potentially doing more damage.
Automatic Update: Another convenient, but necessary function is automatic updates. This allows the program to update without the user’s help, sometimes up to 10 times a day or more. Updating daily or multiple times a day keeps the virus signature database up to date so the software can detect the most types of infections possible.
Without automatic updates, users must remember to update the program at least once a day, preferably more, by going to the website and installing a virus signature package every day. If the user forgets, and the database is not up to date, if a new infection starts spreading, the security program will not recognize the new infection, and will not stop it before it damages the computer.
Network Protection: Another feature users can expect anti-virus programs to offer is network protection in which the program monitors network connections and alert the user if a program or application attempts to access the Internet without permission. This is one of the first signs of an infection. The anti-virus program detects the problem and immediately alerts the user.
Multiple Infection Detection: Another feature to look for is if the program can scan for more than one type of infection. While some anti-virus programs only detect and remove viruses, most modern basic security programs also offer the ability to protect against infections such as Trojans, adware and spyware as well; however, some also protect against rootkits and worms, too, both of which are more difficult to detect and remove once infected.
Extra Features: Many basic security programs offer all the features listed and much more. However, not all programs will offer the same extra features. For example, some programs, typically having, “Internet Security,” appended to the anti-virus software’s name will scan links in the search engine results and links in emails to make sure the links are not a downloadable executable program in disguise, or that the links do not go to websites containing malware or forgery and phishing websites.
Other programs will offer spam blockers, parental controls. Password protections, backup, and restore features as well. While these features are not mandatory for a good anti-virus program to work well and keep a computer safe, they are nice to have if you can afford them. However, if you are a power user, then you might want to consider purchasing a subscription to one of the programs offering the extra features anyway; hackers become more efficient at what they do every day and having extra features might make a user feel safer.
Once you have figured out what type of computer user you are, you can determine the type of security program you will need. As long as the security program of choice offers the basic features listed here, then you and your computer should stay safe form unwanted attacks and costly damage. However, as stated above, power users might want to consider extra levels of protection because the longer they are connected to the Internet, the more at risk of infection they are.
The bottom line? The best security program will detect a combination of most, or all of the infection types, offer extra features, and offer the most comprehensive scanning abilities available while saving the user money and time.
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