A computer virus is a type of malicious program or code created to change the way a computer works and easily spreads from one computer to another. To execute its code, malicious software, commonly referred to as malware, inserts or attaches itself to legitimate programs or documents that support macro. Malware has the potential to harm the system in unexpected ways in the process.
For instance, some computer viruses may corrupt your system or destroy any data that you have stored on your personal computer. Computer viruses become more sophisticated and prolific every year.
To safeguard against these modern digital threats, computer users need to ensure that they have protection in the form of a reliable antivirus program in place. However, reliable anti-malware software is not so easy to come by these days.
Anti-malware programs play a crucial role in IT security. The primary goal of this kind of software is to protect your system from malware. As a result, antivirus is one of the most trusted pieces of software in the computer world. However, a good number of software providers seem intent on betraying this trust by infringing on user privacy. Here are a few instances where antivirus programs have been used to compromise user privacy.
- Kaspersky cooperation with the Russian government. Three years ago, Russia-based cybersecurity solutions provider Kaspersky was caught in a major privacy scandal. The company was accused of collecting user data and sharing it with Russian intelligence agencies.
The US government banned federal agencies from using Kaspersky software in September 2017. Kaspersky accounts for more than 5 percent of the antivirus software products in the world.
- Bundled Software. Many free antivirus programs come with Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) such as plugins, adware, and browser toolbars. If the antivirus program doesn’t pose a threat to your privacy directly, the bundled software
These PUPs may not be technically malicious, but they will hog your system resources, switch your default search engine, and display ads. Free versions of Comodo, Avast, Panda AV, AVG, and Avira are bundled with PUPs and a threat to your privacy.
- Selling Your Data to Third-Parties. This may come as a shock to many, but your antivirus software may be spying on you. Many antivirus software solutions collect user data, including personally identifiable information, and sell it to third parties.
Avast was recently caught selling clicks to advertisers in the biggest privacy scandal of 2020. It’s common for antivirus companies that offer free versions of their software to collect and sell user data; that’s how they make money.
As you can see, not all antivirus providers can be trusted to provide reliable protection. Some will sell your data to advertisers, while others will cooperate with the government to spy on you.
You need to be extra vigilant when choosing an antivirus solution for your PC or mobile device. There are hundreds of anti-malware programs in the market, and choosing the right one is not easy. To make the process a bit easier for you, here are five factors to consider when choosing an antivirus solution.
One of the most important criteria when choosing anti-malware software is reliability. A reliable solution should be able to provide protection without causing conflict with any other program installed on your computer. The program should offer automated security scans and provide up to date protection.
Most importantly, you should choose an antivirus company that you trust. Transparency is key. Just like a transparent VPN, a trustworthy solution should open itself up for audits by an independent third-party to verify its security and privacy protections.
Look for all-inclusive protection when choosing an anti-malware solution. A good software includes several layers of security that protect you against different types of modern cyberthreats. The anti-malware software should be able to detect all types of malicious code, including trojans, worms, adware, spyware, rootkits, and ransomware.
Look for online protection when browsing the internet, protection against third party monitoring, and firewall protection. The security software should also protect all entry points to the device. This includes the various communication channels, such as email.
Ease of use is an important factor to consider when choosing anti-malware software. The security product should be easy to use for both knowledgeable and casual users. Choose software that comes with an intuitive design that’s easy to navigate through the different tabs, windows, menus, and settings. All reliable software products must come with the necessary documentation.
For instance, your security software should feature a help button to help find any answers you may be looking for.
How does your software impact the performance of your device? Consider the performance aspect when choosing anti-malware software. A good solution should have minimal impact on the performance of your computer. Security software that bogs down your computer is not a good choice.
Consider the boot timings, too. Your Windows PC should start almost as fast as it did before you installed the program. A good solution should also be able to scan for threats fast without using too much of the available system resources.
Malware developers keep coming up with new ways to beat anti-malware protections and infect your computer. For a program to guarantee protection, it needs to be updated with new definitions of malware regularly. Software that is not up to date can’t protect against new malware infections; it can’t detect them either.
Good programs such as Windows Defender make new definitions available online and will even download and update automatically when you are connected to the internet.
With so many options available, choosing an anti-malware solution for your device can be overwhelming. Many security products online, especially the free versions, are substandard and unreliable. Some will spy on you, install annoying software on your device, or sell your data to advertisers.
That’s why you need to choose your software wisely. Perform due diligence by looking at factors such as reliability, ease of use, impact on system performance, and availability of updates when choosing security software.