Antivirus:  Internet Security

The software (operating system) on your computer was designed to allow you to communicate with the outside world via the web. To enable this, it has an array of access points (ports). This basic design is not secure: it will grant access to anything. A firewall is essential security software (which comes with anti-virus products) that makes these ports “invisible”. This is particularly true of computers that run on Microsoft Windows operating system but Mac computers are increasingly suffering from attacks. It is important that you take measures to protect your computer from unwanted access to dangerous attacks. If you use your computer for internet banking or making purchases online it is absolutely essential that you use security software to protect your computer.

A large number of software programmes (anti-virus) are now available to protect your computer. The number and type of threat is now far greater than the original, often “prank”, virus attacks. Malicious software that can damage you or your computer is now more generally referred to as malware. This term encompasses a range of hostile or intrusive software such as computer viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware and scareware.

Windows Defender comes with Windows 8 operating system and provides a very basic level anti-virus / firewall protection giving limited protection (see the AV Comparatives test below). If you want more than basic protection (and you certainly should if you are carrying out financial transactions online) you will need to purchase anti-virus software. There are a large number of anti-virus products on the market and a number of free ones. Not surprising then that this is a very competitive market. Products compete on the basis of how easy they are use and customer support as well as how good they are at preventing infections. Most products now come either as a basic anti-virus or as a little more expensive suite of programmes that will help you manage the performance of your computer.

The large range of products makes it difficult to say which the best is. To some extent it will depend on the view of the individual looking at the features offered and the price. There are a large number of reviews of these products available on the internet. The results from two independent labs, AV Comparatives and AV Test Institute, can be viewed by clicking on their links. It is worth noting that some products perform well at blocking intrusions but have a significant number of false positives (they warn you about or block legitimate actions).