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Computers have revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives, from helping students learn, monitoring patients in hospitals and regulating critical manufacturing processes. Cyberattacks such as ransomware viruses, and malware have also increased due to the increased reliance on computers. Antivirus software detects these threats to stop the computer from being damaged or stealing your personal information.

When selecting an antivirus program, you should consider the capabilities of its virus scanner as well as whether it has a firewall, and how it performs in independent laboratory tests. You may also want to take a look at the customer support, the frequency it updates, and the number of devices it can safeguard. Some programs, like Norton have additional features that help you prevent identity theft and protect your privacy online.

The best programs offer various protection options that include heuristic detection, which looks for behavior patterns typical of malware or viruses, and signature matching, which checks the files against a database of known malicious software. Some programs also utilize Sandboxing, which blocks suspicious files and runs them in a closed virtual environment that doesn’t allow them to do any harm.

A few of the top antivirus software is free. However, they may not have the same features as paid alternatives. For instance, Bitdefender’s free edition performed excellently in our tests and has a firewall, while its premium version includes parental controls along with a file shredder as well as a password manager. Similarly, Malwarebytes’ free version earned top marks in AV-Test for 2023, but was not as good in our test of usability. Intego Mac Internet Security X9, however, has a solid combination of tools (VirusBarrier and NetBarrier) which killed and caught the majority of malware threats during our test.

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