How to Choose an Antivirus or Anti-Malware Program
We guess you’re probably already aware that you need to protect your computer from threats such as viruses and other malware. But we’ve found that many people are confused about what exactly these threats are, how they can attack a computer, and how best to defend against them.
To put it in simple terms, malware is basically just a form of software designed to harm computers, or to perform other undesirable actions. Viruses are the best known form of malware, but other types include Trojans, adware, worms, and ransomware. It used to be that malware only really affected Windows systems – but now modern cybercriminals are starting to target other systems too, including macOS.
Protecting yourself from these threats needn’t be difficult – a key step is using an effective antivirus/anti-malware program. In this guide we’ll look at each of the main types of malware in turn, and then show you how combining one of the strongest antivirus products with a leading anti-malware solution can protect you, your files, and your computer!
What are the Most Common Types of Malware?
Computer viruses really aren’t all that different from the kinds of viruses that affect people! And, just as a cold or flu virus can make you sick, a computer virus can harm the way your computer performs. A computer virus can also spread to (or infect) other devices. Viruses replicate themselves by injecting their code into innocent files or programs – again, just like the way that real viruses multiply by infecting healthy human cells!
No one intends to infect their computer with a virus, or any other type of malware. So the cyber criminals who develop this malware sometimes disguise it so that it appears to be a useful program or file – i.e. something that a user would actually want to download. Trojan attacks sometimes start with an email which comes with an important looking attachment such as a fake PDF.
Malware developers are always looking for ways to make money from their programs. One of the commonest ways they achieve this is by using adware to serve ads (normally in the form of browser pop-up windows) to users whose computers have become infected by these highly annoying programs! Though adware isn’t always the most serious kind of malware, it can sometimes be difficult to remove.
Worms spread aggressively between computers across a network. It’s possible for worms to spread over the internet – the largest computer network of all – but they can be especially dangerous if they infect a machine linked to a home or work network. Most worms rely on weaknesses in their target computers in order to spread.
One of the nastiest forms of malware to emerge in recent years is ransomware. Ransomware works by locking a user out of their computer, and demanding a payment to unlock it, or alternatively by encrypting a user’s files, and demanding a payment to decrypt them. The most aggressive forms of ransomware can actually do both.
How to Protect Your Computer from Malware
While there are many types of malware out there, there are also a number of professionally developed programs designed to protect your computer, or to clean it up after it’s become infected.
Antivirus vs. Anti-Malware
Many people ask which is best – an antivirus, or an anti-malware program. Generally speaking, an anti-malware program is best – since it will protect against a wider range of threats. But the truth is that most modern antivirus software will actually protect against many other forms of malware as well – some manufacturers simply prefer the name antivirus!
Generally, it’s best just to use one antivirus or anti-malware program per device (using more than one program can cause conflicts.) However, there are a few programs which work well alongside others – perfect for users looking for an enhanced level of security!
Which is the Best Anti-Malware Program?
We’ve looked at the options available today and picked out two products which can be used together to guard against a whole range of threats to your computer, your files, and your identity.
There’s no question that Sophos Home Premium is more than a simple antivirus. The product features include:
– Real-Time Antivirus/Anti-Malware Protection
Sophos protects your device whenever it’s switched on or in use. You don’t need to just rely on using on-demand scans, since the program features real-time protection against viruses and a range of other malware. The in-built ransomware protection is especially powerful.
– Parental Web Filtering
Sophos’ parental filters allow you to restrict what categories of content your children can access online. It also provides you with reports if they do attempt to visit sites that you’ve restricted.
– Web Protection
Some forms of malware are spread by so-called ‘drive-by-attacks’ – where a computer is infected simply by visiting an infected website. Sophos prevents this by automatically blocking your computer from connecting to sites known to host malware.
– Remote Management Options
Most people think of remote management as a feature for large corporations or IT professionals to use, but with Sophos you can easily manage the security of all the devices throughout your home from one computer. This option is perfect if you have children, or a relative who needs a little help protecting their device.
– Banking Protection
Online credentials like banking passwords or credit card information are major targets for cybercriminals, but Sophos protects against threats like key stroke loggers which can capture information as you type.
– Privacy Protection
Sophos warns you of attempts to access your computer’s microphone or webcam. You can easily allow access for legitimate applications like Skype, while blocking malicious attempts to violate your privacy.
– Protection for up to 10 Devices
You can use Sophos to protect one computer, but the 12 month license actually covers up to 10 Windows or macOS devices!
While Sophos Home Premium provides great protection in itself, we’ve identified another program that’s perfect for adding an extra layer of security…
Malwarebytes has been around for over 12 years now, and during that time it’s become established as one of the most popular anti-malware programs on the market. It’s regularly used as a back-up for other antivirus/anti-malware software, and is famous for detecting threats that sometimes slip past competitors’ defenses!
The free version of Malwarebytes doesn’t include real-time protection (which comes with the premium version), but it can be used to perform on-demand or scheduled scans. So long as it’s used together with another capable program (like Sophos Home Premium), the free edition is a perfect way for security-conscious users to boost the safety of their computer, and double-check that their device is clean!