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What features should you look for in antivirus software?

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There’s a risk that if you read enough news on cybersecurity, hacking and everything else involved with protecting your devices, you might start to see threats everywhere.

Let’s be honest: most of us just want to know how to bank, shop and browse the websites we love whilst staying safe online. But the unfortunate truth is that cybercriminals are often lurking in the background, waiting for you to make a mistake so that they can strike.

Antivirus software is a great way to ensure that your personal information, financial details and devices are as secure as they can be. The question now is, which solution is the right one?

To be a worthy ally, an antivirus platform needs to have a few key features to keep your device protected - here’s all you need to know.

Why is antivirus software important?

Before we get started, it’s important to understand that there is a wide range of cyberthreats out there targeting computers, smartphones and tablets.

A brief list of some of the main threats around today puts this into perspective:

  • Viruses
  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Cryptojacking
  • Formjacking
  • Spyware
  • Adware
  • Worms
  • Trojans
  • Keyloggers

The methods cybercriminals use to infect devices and package up the cyberattacks for delivery can be just as confusing to keep track of, but some of the main tactics include:

  • Email hijacking and phishing
  • Fake websites
  • Malicious ads
  • Free software hiding flaws
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Exploits
  • Malware apps on the official app stores

Needless to say, defending against these cyberthreats can be challenging, and that’s why installing antivirus software should be the first thing any new device owner does.

Real-time scanning

When it comes to what to look for in antivirus software, real-time scanning should always be at the top of the list. 

Antivirus and anti-malware software are consistently being updated to detect the latest tactics that cybercriminals are using. Unfortunately, not every solution is constantly scanning to see if those exploits are actually being used. In fact, some only work when a scan takes place – whether it’s scheduled or manually started.

Fortunately, real-time scanning is included in Norton 360 solution. The all-in-one platform brings real-time protection to devices against a wide range of ransomware, viruses, spyware, phishing and other online threats. The tool is constantly monitoring and looking to block unauthorised traffic, helping to protect your private and financial information whenever you go online.

Real-time scanning can be the difference between a cyberthreat being on your computer for days, or it being quickly detected and blocked before it even has a chance to install. If your antivirus software isn’t consistently scanning for any discrepancies, a keylogger could slip by and get your login details before you know it.

Modern firewall

Antivirus software can’t do it all, which is why it’s often paired with other features that combine to form a single solution. When these features are added, they can come together to provide a better and more comprehensive security offering.

A firewall – which monitors ingoing and outgoing web traffic – is built into your computer’s operating system, whether PC or Mac, but that doesn’t mean it’s the highest quality firewall that you can get.

The Firewall for PC and Mac included in the Norton 360 platform helps block a wide amount of unauthorised traffic. With bad websites and malicious advertisements out there in large numbers, modern firewalls are becoming more important in stopping what’s known as drive-by downloads. This is when a malicious website or ad automatically starts a download in the background – without the user knowing – and installs adware, spyware or something equally nasty.

Whether it’s online banking, shopping or browsing the web, computers are seeing more of the internet now than they did in years past. Firewalls help ensure that the increase in web traffic isn’t putting your device at risk.

Phishing protection

Emails represent a prime opportunity for cybercriminals to pass on viruses and other malware, with many users keen to download a file from someone they think they know. However if it’s a phishing attempt, that’s almost always going to be a virus.

Many people have a tough time spotting phishing, but each time a phishing email is opened, there’s a chance that the cyberthreat can turn into something much bigger.

If your antivirus software can’t protect against phishing, then it’s not really protecting against viruses. Norton 360 offers powerful layers of protection for your devices and online privacy – all in a single solution. As well as viruses and malware, this protection also protects against phishing by recognising common attempts and checking attachments for viruses.

Cloud backup

Cybercriminals are inventing and using new types of cyberthreats every day. While many antivirus platforms are constantly updating their malware definitions to spot these new trends quickly, it’s not unthinkable for a cyberattack to slip past security.

Antivirus software should often be able to remove the virus or malware. But in the event that it can’t, users should be able to take advantage of cloud backup storage. Doing so ensures that important files and information stays available (in the case of ransomware) or can be recovered if the device has to be wiped clean.

There’s no bulletproof vest for computers and devices – cyberthreats can still find their way into a system. But getting your hands on an effective antivirus software will include cloud backup storage, meaning you can keep your important information safe in the event that anything bad happens.