Antivirus Software

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One of the questions that seems to come up quite often is what is the best antivirus software to use on their computer. In the past, my initial response was to use the same thing that the federal government has approved for use, which has been Symantec or McAfee. The longer I have worked in this field, the more I question whether that was good advice. I’m not saying that there aren’t other good suites out there to manage the security of your computer, I just believe that there is no concrete reason why these two are the best options.

So, instead of identifying what the best is, I will identify the criteria I think everyone should use to choose an antivirus utility.

  • Country of origin is very important when choosing a piece a software that you will rely on to protect your computer. The laws and ethical standards in every country are different, and installing software from a questionable country could put you at risk. I personally would not trust countries that do not value security or privacy.
  • Support is something that is critical in a world with an evolving threats. It is best to choose a vender that regularly updates their virus definitions, and addresses common vulnerabilities.
  • Research and development is critical to stay ahead of the threat landscape. Initially you would think that the advantage would go to larger organizations since they likely will have the budget to support this. Don't dismiss the efforts open source tools that rely on community support.
  • Cost is a factor since if you can't afford it, you obviously can't use it.
  • Performance is the last factor that needs to be considered. Some antivirus software can be referred to as a silent killer of a computer. Some these utilities have been known to falsely flag and remove legitimate files or processes, which can cause a computer to not operate properly. The other performance issue can come from the application maxing out computing resources, cause n the system to come to a crawl.

So, while I still recommend McAfee or Symantec, the criteria identified opens the field up to other players.


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