CYBER SECURITY isn't getting any less scary. Threats are increasingly on the rise, and with new types of malicious software perpetually being uncovered by security experts, it's never been so easy to fall victim to cyber criminals.
Sometimes, it's easy to spot if your machine has been infected. You might have noticed your PC is running slower than usual, or it's doing unusual things such as displaying annoying pop-ups when you're not even browsing the web. However, most of the time, malware goes undetected. And with there being so many types of malware lurking around, such as spyware, adware, viruses, trojans and worms, knowing which you have and how to get rid of it can be a pain in the hard drive.
With that, here's our pick of the top free anti-virus programs you can download to not only rid your machine of malware, but keep you notified when an attempt to compromise your machine has been detected.
AVG AntiVirus Free
AVG continues to be one of the most popular free anti-virus programs available on the internet and that's probably because it offers a combination of effective protection and an easy to use interface. The firm's anti-virus includes real-time security updates, scans for both malware and performance issues, and catches malicious downloads before they reach your PC.
The full "Pro" version of the software, which has more features for finding and destroying all kinds of malware, including more robust download protection, data encryption and a firewall, costs an extra £50 a year.
Panda Free Anti-virus
Despite its cute-sounding name, Panda's free anti-virus is pretty tough when it comes to malware. The firm's free malicious software removal tool includes WiFi scanning, password management, encryption, parental controls as well as real-time protection with no irritating pop-up messages blackmailing you into buying an upgrade before you fall victim to attack.
Best of all though is that Panda is cloud-based, meaning all the heavy lifting is done on Panda's servers, leaving more of your PC's system memory to do other, more demanding jobs, such as streaming endless amounts of Netflix.
Easy to install and use, Panda's malware removal is one of our favourites, especially if your system f choice is a less powerful laptop.
Avast free Antivirus
Like Panda, Avast Free Antivirus is another light and fast anti-virus program. Being one of the lightest versions the company has ever shipped, there's no risk of it slowing your system down, even if you're using a machine with outdated specs.
The Intelligent antivirus features some unique tools, including: CyberCapture, a personal, real-time threat detection that sends unknown files to the Avast Threat Labs to be analysed, and quarantines them if they're dangerous; Wi-Fi Inspector to ensure no-one can break into your home network and anything connected to it; and, Smart Scan, a tool that checks your PC and network for all kinds of issues - and tells you how to fix them instantly.
BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition
Our favourite feature about Bitdefender's free malware removal tool is a simple one. Its ad-free and it's also super easy to install, running quietly in the background. The software features BitDefender's B-Have tech, which looks for apps that aren't behaving themselves. It also includes malware and spyware detection that can detect more rare threats, and performs a boot scan every time you start your PC, without slowing it down.
MalwareBytes' anti-malware software detects and removes malware in real-time, scanning for the newest and most dangerous threats automatically, meaning you have as little input as possible in keeping your online experience safe and secure.
You can use MalwareBytes Anti-Malware free for as long as you like, but if you're wanting to take advantage of its real-time protection and chameleon technology, which includes 'hyper scan' mode and malicious website blocking tools (some of the program's best features), you'll have to upgrade to the Premium version, which costs just short of twenty quid, annually. Gahhh, IKR.
Ad-Aware Free Anti-Virus+
Lavasoft's Ad-Aware Free Anti-Virus+ software is the free version of a much heavier software, so it doesn't have some of the more advanced anti-malware and anti-spyware features you'd usually splash out for, such as phishing protection. However, it has the basics.
Ad-Aware scans downloads, checks for spyware, offers safe browsing via a list of known malicious websites and it even has a game mode so you won't be interrupted by any "malware found!" notifications until you've finished bashing away at your joypad.
Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool
You shouldn't need to go out of your way to download this one if you've already got a Windows machine as it should have come pre-installed when you purchased your device. However, it's worth checking you have it just in case, as it's quite a powerful tool. The Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool is an anti-malware utility that checks computers running Windows 10, Windows 8 and most other versions of Windows for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software.
When the malware removal process is complete, the tool displays a report describing the outcome, including which, if any, malware was detected and removed.
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