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Computers have transformed nearly every aspect of our lives in every aspect, from helping students learn as well as monitoring patients in hospitals and controlling crucial manufacturing processes. The increased dependence on computer devices has also led to a rise in cyberthreats, such as viruses, malware and ransomware. Antivirus software is designed to recognize these threats and stop them from causing harm to your PC or stealing personal information.

When selecting an antivirus program be sure to consider its ability to scan for viruses and whether it comes with a firewall, and how it performs in independent laboratory tests. You might also want to consider its customer support, the frequency it updates itself and the number of devices it can protect. Some programs, like Norton have additional features that will help you to prevent identity theft and safeguard your privacy online.

The top software providers offer several options for protecting your data, including heuristic detection, which looks for behavior patterns typical of malware or viruses, and signature matching, which checks the files against a list of known malicious software. Some programs also utilize sandboxing, which separates the suspicious files and puts them in a closed virtual environment, where they are unable to cause harm.

Many of the top antivirus applications are free, though they may not include as many additional features as paid-for alternatives. Bitdefender’s premium version comes with parental controls, file shredder and password manager, however its free version scored well and comes with firewall. Similar to that, Malwarebytes’ free version received top marks in AV Test for 2023, but was not as good in our test of usability. Intego Mac Security X9 offers powerful tools, including VirusBarrier and NetBarrier, which identified and eliminated the majority of malware threats in our tests.

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