Everyone who spends any amount of time online should know by now that there are many threats out there. From hackers to phishing attempts, malware to viruses, sketchy websites to bogus software, there’s no shortage of potential pitfalls. Any one of these problems can compromise your personal information, financial information, cause frustration and headaches, cause problems with your computer or other electronic device, and generally should be avoided. But that’s not always easy to do, even for the most knowledgeable of computer users.
Fortunately, there are many tools available – some that cost money, some that are entirely free – to help keep you free from viruses, malware, and other related problems. Here, we’ve rounded up 5 of the best options – each offering a different type of anti-malware protection. While you probably don’t need all 5 of these, they can all work together as part of a comprehensive protection solution for your computer.
#1 – AVG Secure VPN
AVG has made a name for themselves in the anti-virus and computer protection market. One of their more recent entries in this space is their own VPN service, known as AVG Secure VPN. A paid service like most VPNs, it’s competitively priced and affordable. The VPN service helps to keep you secure, anonymous, and keep your private data private online. Using advanced encryption schemes, all data going between your system and the VPN server is rendered incomprehensible to any outside monitors, your ISP, government, and so forth. It gets decrypted at the server, where the server re-transmits it to the ultimate destination. The destination server only sees the VPN server IP, so your true IP address is protected and not revealed in the process. You can also use the VPN service to bypass geographic restrictions on content, by accessing a VPN server in another country. For more, check out this AVG Secure VPN Review.
#2 – BitDefender Anti-Virus
BitDefender is one of the premiere anti-virus providers on the market today. Their Anti-Virus Plus 2019 edition utilizes their expertise to present a comprehensive anti-virus, anti-ransomware, and cyber threat protection arsenal. Features like anti-phishing, anti-fraud, secure browsing, and of course a robust anti-virus are all included.
One of the most impressive aspects of BitDefender is that all of these features come in a relatively light-weight package, that doesn’t hog system resources or negatively impact battery life on laptops. There are many other providers out there, including some that are very well-known and respected, that simply hog system resources and slow the system to a crawl, even on the most high-end laptops and desktops. BitDefender doesn’t do this, leaving your system resources intact and functional, while offering unparalleled protection.
#3 – Malwarebytes
Malwarebytes originated as an anti-malware/malware removal tool, and has grown into a full-fledged protection suite. The free version, which is purely a malware removal tool, is still available and updated regularly. They also offer paid versions for 1, 3, and 10 devices, respectively, which includes the malware removal tool, active protection against viruses, spyware, and malware, added protection for system and program files, ransomware protection, safe web browsing, and automatic protection updates. This is coupled with an Android protection app for your smart phone or tablet.
Whether you just want to use the free program to scan for and remove malware you already have, or the more robust option with active monitoring and protection, you’re in good hands with Malwarebytes. Of course, if you are choosing the active protection option, be sure you don’t have any conflicts with any other anti-virus or anti-malware program at the same time. But, at a minimum, download the free anti-malware tool and give yourself a good scan and removal periodically for optimum system health.
For more information, check out their official site at https://www.malwarebytes.com/.
MSRP: Free to $89.99/year
#4 – Webroot Secure Anywhere
Webroot Secure is one of the most valuable tools you can have to avoid getting infected with malicious code, spyware, malware, and so forth in the first place. In addition to protection from viruses, Webroot provides a full suite of Internet security solutions. Features include anti-phishing, identity theft protection, safe web browsing, anti-fraud, and a software firewall, among many other features. It has active protection against sketchy Internet connections, a password manager, and a bunch of other helpful utilities for keeping you safe.
Perhaps most importantly, Webroot Secure integrates with common web browsers, to provide a trust rating for search engine links. This is great for those who aren’t super tech-savvy – a simple green, yellow, and red traffic-light-like system tells you if a site is safe to visit, questionable, or should be avoided. You can also configure the software to provide a second prompt, interdicting those “red” pages – which can be really helpful for seniors or those who aren’t great with tech, to keep their systems free from malicious code and viruses.
Webroot is a subscription-based service, with a 1-year, 3-device subscription as the base package for the Internet Security Plus option.
#5 – TrendMicro Housecall
TrendMicro is a well-respected security solutions provider, founded in Los Angeles and headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. They offer a full range of solutions for both home and business customers, including security programs, anti-virus programs, mobile security solutions, IoT device security, endpoint-centric security, ransomware removal, and much more.
Of particular note (and why we included them on this list) is their very high-quality, free anti-virus scanner that can be run either online or as a standalone, off-line scanner. This service, called Housecall, is available for 32 and 64-bit Windows systems, Macs, Android devices, and home networks. From personal experience, we can attest that even when other virus scans fail, TrendMicro Housecall identifies threats – even in code or file fragments – and removes them successfully. Coupled with the other free tools that the company offers, you can get quite a great deal of passive, scan-based protection from TrendMicro. It’s not a replacement for an active monitor virus scanner and anti-malware or security system, but definitely worth using periodically to keep your system clean – regardless of which virus scan solution you employ.
To run a free TrendMicro Housecall scan yourself, and to see the other options available, check out https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/forHome/products/housecall.html.