Computers have transformed nearly every aspect of our lives including helping students learn and assisting in monitoring patients in hospitals and regulating critical manufacturing processes. Cyberthreats such as ransomware, viruses and malware have also increased due to the growing dependence on computers. Antivirus software can detect these threats and prevents them from damaging your computer or stealing personal data.

When selecting an antivirus software it is important to look at its virus scanning capabilities and whether it is equipped with a firewall and how well it does in independent laboratory tests. It is also advisable to consider its customer support, how often it updates, and the number of devices it can safeguard. Some programs, like Norton come with additional features that help secure your online privacy and help prevent identity theft.

Top-rated programs offer a variety of security options. These include heuristic detection which looks for signs that are typical of malware or viruses, and signature matching which compares files to a list of known malicious codes. Certain programs also employ sandboxing to block suspicious files and runs them in a safe virtual environment that doesn’t allow them to cause harm.

Many of the top antivirus software is available for no cost, but they might not come with as many extra features as paid alternatives. Bitdefender’s premium edition comes with parental controls, a file shredder, and password manager, however its free version scored well and also comes with firewall. Malwarebytes, whose free version received top marks in the AV Test for 2023, did not pass our test of usability. Intego Mac Internet Security X9 has a solid combination of tools (VirusBarrier and NetBarrier) that caught and killed the majority of malware threats in our test.