These days, everybody needs virus protection. Yes, that includes Mac owners. The good news is that you can get some great antivirus programs for absolutely free. Here’s a guide to help you know if you’ve found the best free virus protection for your computer.
It works on your specific operating system
If you’re on Windows 10 or Mac OS 10.14 (Mojave), then you can probably use any antivirus product you want. If you’re on an older operating system, then you’re going to have to check whether or not it’s supported. Frankly, the older your operating system, the less choice you are likely to have. Windows XP and MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) are likely to be the oldest operating systems for which you’ll find any free virus protection. In fact, you’re highly unlikely to get paid virus protection for anything older than that.
The easiest way to find free virus protection for your operating system is to search for it specifically. That should help save you a bit of time in your search.
It treats all malware, not just viruses
A virus is one specific type of malicious software. Other types include spyware, adware and ransomware. Spyware and adware are exactly what they sound like. If you’re wondering why adware is a security issue, it’s because adverts are increasingly being used as a means to spread malware. This is known as malvertising. Ransomware is also, essentially, what it sounds like, although it’s a relatively new threat so you may not have heard of it.
Ransomware basically encrypts your precious files and then makes you pay a ransom to get them back. The cybercriminals behind ransomware attacks typically demand cryptocurrency be sent to them within a very short timeframe, basically to limit the victim’s options for doing anything other than paying up.
It is updated regularly and through the cloud
New malware is being created all the time. This is most obvious in the growth of viruses. In the early days of computing (essentially before the internet), there was only a handful of them in existence. Now there are estimated to be around 100,000 and more are being created all the time. What’s more, the capabilities of viruses are also growing. In the old days, they could do a bit of damage to your data and potentially derail your operating system. These days, they can steal your identity and take over your computer for criminal activities.
Because of this, virus protection needs to be regularly updated to cope with emerging threats. The traditional way of doing this was to make updates available for download and installation on the local computer. This was, however, a relatively slow process. It also placed heavy demands on the host computer. The modern way of doing this is to place malware definitions in a cloud database and have the antivirus program just connect to the database. This is both faster and easier on the computer.
It has a sandbox
Sandboxes are basically ring-fenced areas in your computer where malware is dragged to die. These are now very important as malware-creators are becoming increasingly creative in their attempts to trick security software. Basically sandboxes ensure that malware is contained right up to the point where it is completely destroyed and hence is denied the opportunity to spring any nasty surprises before it goes.
It has an integrated firewall (browsing protection)
Firewalls are basically digital barriers which stand between your local computer and the broader internet. You can’t really control the internet as a whole, but you can use your firewall to control how your computer interacts with it. A firewall will scan incoming traffic for signs of external threats. It will also scan outgoing traffic for signs that you are going to do something potentially risky, such as visit a malicious website. It will then take an agreed action, which is usually to warn you and ask you to confirm (or not).
It’s backed by an established and reputable brand
Sometimes it’s great to try out “exciting new labels”, but this isn’t one of those times. Leave the adventures in IT to the IT pros who know what to do if it all goes horribly wrong. Stick with brands which have a proven track record of keeping people safe online. Comodo, for example, has been in the IT security business for over 20 years and is trusted by literally millions of people. Head to this page right now and get the best free virus protection available today.