Anti-virus and malware solutions April 2015

About once a year, I like to update you on my recommended antivirus and anti-malware solutions. First of all I want you to keep in mind that Windows 8 and later and all modern versions of the Mac OS have some basic security software built in.  The latest versions of Windows sport antivirus product called Windows Defender.  The Mac OS has a built-in firewall and Apple also reserves the right to block harmful plug-ins on your computer like Flash you have an out of date version.  Those Mac features are turned on by default.

However some of you want more protection. You want paid protection. The paid programs offer more scanning tools and scheduled scans and usually some decent customer support.  The lineup of paid security programs that I recommend hasn’t really changed much over the years. However I want to offer an explanation today that I may not have articulated in the past. I believe that if you are going to go with a paid antivirus product, it is ideal that the company is located outside the United States. The two grumpy old men of the antivirus business have been Norton and McAfee, to American companies. While I don’t have specific proof for you, it is certainly possible that some of our three letter federal agencies could manipulate security software (which is so deeply integrated into the core of your system) giving them backdoor access into your computer. Since there has been a marketplace for security software on personal computers, some of the best research in this field has always come out of Eastern Europe. That continues to be true today. While all of the companies mentioned below have their headquarters outside the US (with the exception of Webroot), you can rest assured that they use domestic payment processors. Obviously, a trusted software security company is going to treat your credit card information with the utmost responsibility.

If you want to go with a paid antivirus solution, I would recommend any of these products below in no particular order.  I have also listed their country of origin in parentheses.

Kaspersky (Russia)

F-Secure (Finland)

Bit Defender (Romania)

ESET (Slovakia)

Webroot (Colorado USA)

most of the companies listed above offer protection for the Mac as well, but if you live in a Mac only household I would recommend

Intego (France)

Windows users wanting a secondary program have also used one of my favorites called Malware Bytes over the years.  It is not intended to be a replacement for one of the offer mentions solutions but can be used to weed out stubborn infections.   They have a free version which requires you to run the program manually. If you want the one with automatic scanning it is $25 per year.

Ultimately, even the best software cannot protect you against your own careless moves. If you authorize an application to install on your system (giving it what is known as root or administrator permissions) no security package will catch 100% of these careless clicks. They are best at rooting out problems after they occur.

As was taught to me by renowned computer security expert Steve Gibson, I want to share with you some priceless wisdom.  Don’t install something that you didn’t go looking for.