Consumer Reports

The Scoop on Antivirus Software

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Protecting your property from criminals is something most of us do, whether it’s locking our house, our car, or even our bike. But what about protecting the personal information on your computer from viruses and cybercriminals? To help with that, Consumer Reports recently tested antivirus software and explains why you don’t have to pay much—if anything—to get solid protection.

With so many options available for antivirus software, it can be hard to tell which one would offer you the best protection. And as a reminder, you do need protection!

In its Internet Crime Report, the FBI says it received nearly 800,000 reports of cybercrime in 2020, and that’s up 69% from 2019.

Consumer Reports put more than 30 antivirus programs through a battery of tests, exposing computers running both Windows 10 and macOS to malware, malicious websites, and phishing attempts. And for the first time, CR also gave each of the programs a data privacy score. It’s based on how the company says it collects, shares, and uses your data.

The good news is that you don’t have to pay to get solid antivirus protection that also protects your personal information. CR says Kaspersky Security Cloud Free and AVG Antivirus for Mac both provide a very good defense against threats.

That’s right, Macs need antivirus software too.

They’re both free and they both got a score of Excellent for advertising, which means you won’t be bombarded with ads to upgrade your service.

Yet CR says paid programs do offer some extra benefits. Like the top-rated F-Secure SAFE, which offers a parental filter, banking protection, and anti-ransomware and spyware technology.

If you opt to pay for software, the experts at Consumer Reports caution that a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better protection.

CR also says to make sure you’re downloading antivirus software from a trusted site instead of clicking on an ad promising free antivirus protection. It’s best to go straight to the source and manually type in the web address for the product you choose.

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