We’ve all heard the claims: download an antivirus and you’ll be protected from cyberthreats automatically. However, is it true?
Cybersecurity has become crucial to our wellbeing. With so much sensitive information stored in our devices, the thought of losing it all to malware is pretty terrifying. Using antivirus software might give us peace of mind, but does it guarantee us protection?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. No security software can be completely failure-proof. However, it’s not time to throw out your subscription just yet. High-quality antivirus can keep you safe from all known threats, and even some that haven’t been invented yet. Its benefit is proven, even if some flaws exist.
The Problems with Antivirus
Antivirus programs all work similarly. They combine confirmed malware knowledge with pioneering strategies to prevent infections. Security suites use virus signatures and common codebases to flag known-malware instantly.
The problem is the malware landscape is always changing, so 100% protection isn’t feasible. Cybercriminals innovate by using unrecognized coding that appears benign to antivirus software. Many security companies now provide heuristic detection, which tries to identify suspicious behavior to block unknown viruses. Unfortunately, this process can’t guarantee security either, and infections have been known to slip past the filters.
Rootkits are another problem for antivirus software. This nasty malware type can make changes to your computer without your knowledge, including setting your security software to ignore the infection. No commercial app guarantees removal; the only option is an in-depth behavioral analysis of the device.
Despite their drawbacks, premium antivirus suites are still your best option to stay safe. No other software targets, flags, and removes infections with a complex combination of processes. Some of the most common include the following:
This option is the most traditional detection method. Each company collects a vast database of known virus signatures. Then, if the software spots them within a device, they will automatically quarantine. Most security suites go one step further by using heuristic tactics to detect malware within the same family or related to the stored signatures.
As the number of viruses has increased, antivirus databases have become vast—to the point they may slow down the program significantly. As a result, some have moved towards a behavioral-based system, which detects characteristics of an infection rather than looking for the code itself.
Sandboxing is another method that’s increasingly popular. It works by creating a virtual cage around each application to monitor the processes. By knowing the actions that the app is supposed to perform, it can quickly spot if anything else is occurring. This tactic also lets your computer quarantine infections to specific apps.
Along with deploying the most sophisticated detection methods, many brands also now include other security elements in their packages. Not only do they offer near-perfect protection from malware, but they also target other common online threats such as phishing, network hacks, rogue hotspots and malvertising.
Tips to Increase Security
While antivirus apps aren’t perfect, they still offer a lot. You can incorporate security practices that will increase the protection even further, such as the following tactics that will enhance your online privacy:
At the end of the day, the best protection against viruses is you. Most infections require you to take action before they infiltrate your device. Common avenues include phishing emails, infected ads, piggybacking on software, torrents, or unauthorized downloads. Stick to trusted websites and sources, and never open or download files from unknown senders.
Most antivirus software will have automatic scans, but these may not be the most thorough option. Full system scans can be launched manually on a regular basis and will look deeper into your files to optimize protection.
Lots of antivirus add-ons exist. Similarly, certain security companies excel in different areas. It’s perfectly acceptable to double up on removal and detection tools in order to ensure the highest quality results.
Constantly updating apps can be frustrating, but it’s important. From the moment software is released, cybercriminals work to find security holes so they can gain backdoor access. Updates patch these holes before an infection can occur. Ignoring updates leaves you at significant risk.
Best Antivirus for Security
It goes without saying that some antivirus suites get far closer to the 100% protection margin than others. The following titles all ranked highly in AV-Test’s security category.
This well-known security firm offers a 100% protection guarantee on their site. When tested with over 2,500 types of malware, the Norton antivirus managed to catch every single one, including 225 zero-day malware attacks. With over 25 years’ experience, it’s easy to see why Norton rates as one of the most secure antivirus products around.
Avira is a German security software that offers many antivirus products. Their Pro package excelled in all the crucial elements, with 99.9% accuracy against 5,500 known malware types and a 99.2% score against zero-day malware attacks. This near-perfect protection is still one of the most secure options around.
BitDefender rated even higher than Avira when it came to protection. When tested against 5,500+ known malware samples and over 200 zero-day infections, Bitdefender managed to flag 100% of the problems. Although this doesn’t guarantee indefinite flawless protection, it provides an incredibly high chance of staying safe online.
Many other top antivirus products exist. While some offer high levels of protection, others excel in speed and usability. Finding your best option can take some trial and error, but most premium providers offer trial periods and money-back guarantees so you can experiment.
The Best Option for Staying Safe Online
When it comes to cybersecurity, nothing is guaranteed. New iterations of infections are constantly released, which test existing security methods to their limits.
However, this doesn’t mean give up on security—actually, it’s the opposite. Choosing a top-quality antivirus is even more essential when you consider these risks.
Invest in a premium security suite and use established security behaviors to get as close to 100% protection as possible.