Viruses, worms, bots, spyware, adware, keylogging devices. One of the most common causes of a sluggish PC is malicious software infection. From hijacking your machine and using it to pollute the web with spam, to cluttering your registry with bogus functions, bad code you pick up from web
surfing or downloading software is the number one culprit behind PC slowdown.
Chances are, you already have a decent antivirus program – but chances are, the subscription has already expired. As our friends at Shadowserver – a nonprofit made of volunteers who fight malware – always remind us, hundreds of new viruses are created each day. If you don't have an up-to-date subscription, you might as well not have the program running altogether. Besides, a year's worth of protection will only set you back between $16 and $50 dollars.
What to look for in an anti-malware program
Before you renew your subscription or buy a new program, make sure you're protected by the right software. A good, all-purpose anti-malware program should:
- Update with fresh malware signatures every few minutes. (Yes, minutes - you don't want to get caught by this morning's bad code floating around the internet.)
- Protect you from toxic sites while browsing. Sophisticated criminals have made bad websites that can hijack your CPU after you simply click on their site.
- Thwart phishing. Some malicious programs trick your browser into thinking it's landing on a real site – such as your bank's – when it's really a dummy site created by criminals, who then steal whatever personal information you send them.
- Offer "whitelisting," a memory-saving feature that puts reliable files on a safe, or "white," list, so it doesn't have to scan them as often.
- Get good marks from AV-Comparatives.org or CheckVir.com, two highly-respected independent anti-malware testing organizations.
Recent winners from AV-Comparatives.org