Anyone who owns a computer has likely had some sort of encounter with adware, spyware, viruses, trojans and other malware. These problems typically occur as a result of opening spam email attachments, visiting unscrupulous websites and careless computer security measures. They may even come bundled with other software. There are so many ways to end up with these troublesome programs on your machine and so many varieties of them. Properly securing your PC is an impossible task without quality antivirus software.
Just as there are many threats to your internet security, there are also many solutions. There are literally dozens of antivirus programs on the market, each with different features and abilities. Some are very bare bones, supplying only the most basic virus and malware protection. Others boast numerous safety-boosting tools to turn your computer into an impenetrable fortress. With so many options available, it can be difficult to pick the right internet security software for your needs. Here are some things to look for before you buy.
A rootkit is a malicious program that is capable of hiding its presence on your PC. These can be very difficult to detect and nearly impossible to remove, especially without appropriate software. Sometimes, the only truly reliable way to get rid of rootkits is to erase your hard drive and reinstall the operating system from scratch. Obviously, it is better to protect yourself from these nasties before they happen by using reputable antivirus software.
Keyloggers are a type of malware that resides on your computer and records what you press on the keyboard. They allow hackers to gather personal information such as bank passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers and other sensitive information.
If you frequently download games and other software online, the chances are high that you’ve had to deal with irritating adware. Most of the time, you aren’t even notified before it is installed along with the main software. It manifests in various ways such as annoying popups, web page redirects, unwanted toolbars and desktop shortcuts. It can even go so far as to change your browser’s home page without your consent. While these things typically don’t pose a serious security threat, they can be frustrating to deal with and will also slow down your machine.
The ability to search for and remove spyware threats is a huge bonus to have in any internet security software. Spyware is much as its name implies. It is capable of tracking your browsing habits, what kinds of software you use, gathering personal information and redirecting you to other websites. This information can be used for anything ranging from market research to identity theft.
Custom Scan Capability
Scanning the full contents of a hard drive for viruses is a time consuming process. Occasionally, you might find that you want to scan a particular file or set of files without having to scan your entire machine. Custom scan abilities let you select certain directories to scan and usually also allow you to schedule scans.
Silent or Gaming Mode
Quality antivirus software tends to update itself frequently and this often involves some sort of popup notification. For the millions of PC gaming and home media fans out there, this could be a huge inconvenience because it would interrupt whatever full screen application you were running. Fortunately, most antivirus programs today come with an option that disables disruptive messages when a full screen application is running.
Removable Media Protection
Malware is just as capable of infecting your removable media as it is your computer. Flash drives, memory cards, portable hard drives and USB sticks are all vulnerable. Even if you have no threats on your PC, there may still be some on your storage devices which can reinfect it. Having internet security software that scans for and neutralizes problems on removable media is a must.
Most people have very busy lives, so the last thing they want is to have to babysit the most important functions of their internet security program. Because updates are intrinsic to keeping yourself safe online, they must be done regularly. Most of these programs feature automatic updating so you don’t have to worry.
Not all antivirus programs come with parental controls. However, if you have children and are concerned about their online activities, you will want to look for one that has them. The internet is full of things that young eyes shouldn’t be seeing but which are accessed with ease. Parental controls block obscene content on the web to keep your children safe.
Sometimes you may download programs and aren’t quite sure of their safety. The sand box feature, becoming more common with antivirus software, will isolate the program while you open it and prevent possible infection of your PC.