Five key features of the best free antivirus programs

There are all kinds of free antivirus programs available online.  The worst of them are viruses themselves. Many of them are just average.  Some, however, offer great functionality for free. How do you tell which is which?  You look for the five key features of the best free antivirus programs.

1.They are effective against all forms of malware

Even IT professionals use the term “antivirus” but in actual fact viruses are just one form of malicious software.  There are many others with adware and spyware being particularly popular at the moment and ransomware growing at an alarming rate.  It’s very important to have protection against all of them (and all of the new forms which are sure to be created over the course of time). 

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At the present time, the most significant threat is probably spyware, because it can be virtually impossible for a human to detect on their own.  Most other forms of malware give some indication of their presence, in fact some are blatantly obvious, but spyware is designed to be discreet. This means that there is a distinct possibility that unless you use one of the best free antivirus programs, you will only find out about it when it is too late, like when you get a bill for a credit card you never took out or a visit from the police wanting to talk to you about why your computer has been linked with cybercrime.

2.They can block adverts

Blocking adverts isn’t to deal with adware, it’s to deal with malvertising.  This isn’t a form of malware it’s a strategy for spreading malware. Basically, cybercriminals buy advertising space on legitimate websites and use it to display fake adverts with links to malicious websites.  The more adverts you see, the more likely it is that you’ll be tricked into clicking on a link. In fact, in one notorious instance, the malware was triggered just through the advert being displayed on screen. Users didn’t even have the option to avoid it by not clicking.

There is very little websites can do to prevent malvertising, at least not if they want to show adverts, because websites generally just designate advertising space and sell it to third-party advertising agencies.  It’s the agencies which are supposed to check the adverts, but since they’re generally all about high volumes and low value, they don’t necessarily do a very good job of it. Because of this, the safest approach is just to block adverts completely and having a free antivirus program with an ad blocker will save you the hassle of having to find a separate product to do the job.

3.They are hosted in the cloud

In simple terms, ideally you want your free antivirus program to do as much as possible in the cloud and as little as possible on your local computer.  There are two main advantages to this approach. First of all, it allows cybersecurity companies to own the process of keeping the antivirus program updated as new threats emerge.  The protection becomes effective almost as soon as it is developed and this can be a major win in the fast-moving world of IT security.

Secondly, it makes life vastly easier for the local computer.  As the volume of malware increases and it becomes more and more sophisticated, it takes higher and higher levels of resources to deal with it effectively.  This means that doing everything locally can be a strain even for computers with top-level hardware specifications. It can really slow down the performance of budget-level computers.

4.They have an integrated firewall

Firewalls check your internet traffic for signs of suspicious activity and, if they detect any, they take action as appropriate.  In practice, this usually means generating an alert if they think you are about to do something questionable, like click on a link to a malicious website.  You can overrule a firewall, if you’re really sure an alert is a false-positive, but it’s usually better to listen to their recommendations.

5.They are backed by a brand you know you can trust

Even if you’re the kind of person who loves trying out new brands, products and services, there are some times when it’s best to stick to the known and trusted.  Security is one of those times. Your free antivirus program is what you’re going to rely on to protect your computer. That means it has to come from a brand which has proved it deserves to be trusted.  Comodo has been protecting computer-users for over 20 years and is trusted by millions. Click here to download Comodo’s free antivirus and get all the protection you need to keep your personal data safe!