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Computers have transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, from helping students to learn and monitor patients in hospitals, and controlling crucial manufacturing processes. Cyberthreats such as ransomware, malware, and viruses have also increased because of the growing dependence on computers. Antivirus software detects these threats to keep the computer from being damaged or stealing personal information.

When you are choosing an antivirus program be sure to consider the ability to scan for viruses as well as whether it has an integrated firewall and how it performs in independent lab tests. You might also want to take a look at the customer support, the frequency it updates itself and the number of devices it can safeguard. Some programs, like Norton come with additional features that can help you to prevent identity theft and safeguard your privacy online.

The top programs provide various options for protection, including heuristic detection, that looks for patterns of behavior typical of viruses or malware and signature matching, which checks the files against a database of known malware. Some programs employ sandboxing technology to block suspicious files in a virtual environment that is sealed and safe from any harm.

Some of the most effective antivirus software is free. However, they may not provide as many features as paid alternatives. Bitdefender’s premium version has parental controls, a file shredder, and password manager, however its free edition scored well and includes a firewall. Similarly, Malwarebytes‘ free version received top marks in AV Test for 2023, but was not as good in our tests for usability. Intego Mac Security X9 is a a powerful combination of tools, including VirusBarrier and NetBarrier that identified and eliminated the majority of malware threats in our tests.