If the CDC assessed computer viruses and malware, they would label them the most prolific of all worldwide pandemics. Some estimate that in 2012 cyber criminals will attempt to extort as much as a trillion dollars from governments, companies and individuals. However, you may not want your PC or laptop bogged down with a resource-monopolizing internet security suite that does not necessarily provide more antivirus protection. For you, the best antivirus software coupled with the Windows firewall and a secure browser can provide all the protection you need.
There was a time when computer viruses were simply annoying or benignly malicious, but now they are distributed both by large organized groups and by nefarious individuals in an attempt to procure a broad spectrum of information. Yet, everyday more businesses, government agencies and individuals are venturing online. We have grown more click-happy, sharing personal information prolifically and conducting our business online. Antivirus software can protect your PC from all points of entry and your personal information from leaking out.
The best antivirus software products can detect all known threats, quickly identify potential threats and remove malware that may have already taken residency in your laptop. They can block malware that may attempt to access your PC from a variety of avenues, including via email, chat, P2P file sharing, externally attached devices, discs, network connections or websites.
When evaluating antivirus software we looked for applications with the proven ability to protect from malware and the technology to protect personal information. Though we tested the antivirus software we reviewed, we did not rely solely on our own opinion. We also took into consideration efficacy scores awarded from AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and VB100. The top performers not only demonstrate the ability to protect from malware now but through a history of tests, which proves they have the ability to react to threats as they emerge and mutate. We also investigated their ability to remove malware after infection. The best can install on an already infected system, remove malware securely and restore your PC to its pre-malware state.
In regard to protecting your personal information, it not only protects your data from extraction by malware but also from your own indiscretions. Many antivirus products provide data filters, which can block specific items from being shared without your permission; this includes info such as your SSNs, credit card numbers and street address. This is especially useful if your children use your PC. Others tools include chat conversation protection and track erasers.
Though a long list of features is not as significant to antivirus software as it is to an internet security suite, we still compared useful available features. The most comprehensive antivirus solutions often include features such as a fullscreen mode, battery saving scans, virtual keyboards, search advisors and secure browsers. Relevant to laptops or notebooks specifically, they can be configured to only run full scans when you are connected to a power source or when your battery is not running low.
Another thing we considered was customer and technical support. The largest internet security companies are global operations with hundreds of millions of customers. The companies that have millions of customers have the ability to gather the most data to create the best malware protection, but they face the challenge of providing support to so many worldwide users. The antivirus software companies that are backed by the best support include extended telephone support hours as well as chat and email support for both technical and customer service issues in a variety of languages and time zones.
The best antivirus software must constantly evolve to combat prolific shape-shifting malware. Computers viruses have reached pandemic status. In the first nine months of 2011, Panda Security processed 19.9 million new malware specimens, and yet some people still do not use antivirus software. They believe that if they are careful about what they click on their computer will not be infected. This is no longer the case. Malware creators have become more sly and ambitious.
For the best lightweight antivirus solutions see our top choices for antivirus protection: Bitdefender Antivirus Pro 2012, Kaspersky Antivirus 2012 and Panda Antivirus Pro 2012.