Despite your what is a cyber attack mean and smartphone operating systems’ built-in security tools, you need to use premium antivirus software to stay fully protected online. These packages reliably detect and remove malware threats (such as phishing and ransomware), help keep you on safe Wi-Fi networks, block potentially unwanted programs, prevent data theft from USBs and other external devices, and include additional features like VPNs, performance optimization, parental controls, and device shredders.
Windows 10 and 11 computers have built-in Microsoft Defender (newer versions are called Windows Security) that has decent protection, but it doesn’t score as well in third-party tests as top standalone products do. Free antivirus software from Avast, Avira and AVG is also available, but it typically doesn’t get as frequent updates or have a range of extra tools.
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The best antiviruses work equally well on Windows and macOS, and many come with a mobile version as well. Some vendors also sell multi-device licenses that cover multiple platforms including iOS, Android and Linux.
McAfee’s software works surprisingly well across multiple platforms, and it has the best record for malware detection in our tests. It also performs relatively well for a system impact and shows fewer annoying ‘nags’ than many of the other packages on this list. McAfee’s flagship product, Total Protection, is packed with extra features, including a VPN, that you can activate by sliding a button on the main screen; it also watches out for potential web browser script hacks and encrypting ransomware. Avast is another solid contender with its basic and midrange suites, which offer a good range of extra cybersecurity features. The top product includes a cross-platform password manager, priority tech support and unlimited VPN usage.