Let’s set the scene:
It’s 2004, and your kid just logged off their MySpace account and decided to check their e-mail before LiveJournaling. Suddenly an e-mail pops up and tells them that if they don’t forward it then ALL THEIR FRIENDS WILL DIE HORRIBLY AND THEY’LL BE HAUNTED FOR 10 YRS AND HVE BAD LVCK 4EVR*~*~*~*!!!!
Not wanting to have that sort of blood on their conscience, they open the e-mail to forward it.
Bad move, kid.
Your computer has now been infected by a virus.
Now this story can go one of two ways:
- There is no anti virus on the computer, and now the evil little program that was hidden in the e-mail is going to open backdoors into your system, stealing passwords and slowly turning your computer into a zombie. The kid gets grounded for 2 months and cries onto their Blink-182 poster.
- A little dialogue box pops up and says: YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED FILE MOVED TO QUARANTINE, maybe with a picture of a bad guy behind bars. The kid deletes the file and goes to the mall.
The difference between the two outcomes? Anti-virus. It’s a wonderful little program that keeps the bad people from the internet off of your computer.
Fast forward to 2016, and you know what? This EXACT story is STILL unfolding, only this time it's you, and you clicked on a FedEx status email that looked totally legit. What do you hope will save you? A good anti-virus program. Anti-virus has been saving us from worms and Trojans since the early 2000’s and it’s just improved since.
Anti-Virus is not infallible. No system connected to the internet is ever 100% secure. But unless you're Hillary Clinton, you're probably never going to be directly attacked by human hackers. Most of the malware we peons experience are software programs looking for passwords and bank account info, or simply a PC host to infest (ever hear of botnets?). A good anti-virus program is good at stopping these kinds of software-driven malware attacks.
So, here’s what we recommend as our top recs for 2016:
Avast Software is an internet security company based out of Prague. This anti- virus program makes the top of the list because not only does is have antispyware, a password protection feature, Secure HTTPS scanning, streaming updates, it additionally has hardened mode, DeepScreen, Home Network Security scanner, Do Not Track, SiteCorrect, antiphishing, anti-malware, Smart Scan, Rescue Disk, and a manual Software Updater. Now that’s a lot of technical jargon to say that it is a quality program for the low price of FREE. They have premium options too, if you’re looking for a little extra protection, such as the “Total Support” Option for $179.99/ year, or various cheaper options.
Download it here: https://www.avast.com/
Based out of Amsterdam, AVG Technologies creates a FREE anti-virus software that saved many teenagers in the 2000’s. It blocks all the nasty things like Spyware and Malware, as well as connecting to your phone so you can run scans on your computer on the go. It has link protection, so it scans Facebook, Twitter and other sites for any malicious software. It’s available on Mac, PC and Android, and also features a Pro Version for $69.99.
Download it here: http://www.avg.com/us-en/free-antivirus-download
Developed in L.A., this is a super solid program for not very much money. The prices vary depending on what service you desire (they have programs for small businesses, personal computers, etc.), but the price of downloading it on your personal computer is going to be $59.99 for 3 devices. It has social media protection, good anti-malware/spyware, and anti-spam among other features.
Download it here: https://www.trendmicro.com/
Not Troy's favorite, but the rest of us think it's okay. Purchasing Norton Antivirus allows you to have full protection on 5 computers for $79.99/yea, or $59.99 for one computer. It features anti-everything and a refund if you do end up getting virus.
Download it here: https://www.norton.com/
Whatever you get, keep it updated...
The most important part of having anti-virus software on your computer that everyone (including myself) seems to forget is UPDATING IT. How is the program going to protect you from viruses and malware that it has never heard of? Keeping it updated makes sure that you’re protected from the many different malicious softwares that are being developed everyday. Also, if you decide to use the free versions - at some point please ante up and buy the software, or at least donate something! If they don’t make ANY money they can’t afford to continue to support it, just sayin!
... and practice safe-surfing
It’s also important to mention that the machine is only as good as the user, so if you’re irresponsibly downloading things, or intentionally going to dangerous websites you might not be covered by your antivirus. Don’t be the type of person that downloads cars.