Modern computers have built-in firewall programs that work fine, so all we need to concern ourselves with is antimalware software. For PCs, I and the reviewers agree that one free product stands out: Avira Free Antivirus, available at avira.com.
While no antimalware program is perfect, I’ve been using Avira on all my personal computers and installing it on everyone else’s for about six years. I first became aware of Avira when one of my customers tipped me off that Consumer Reports rated it Number One in the free antivirus category. It can be a little fiddly to install, but it works great; as such, I don’t waste my (or, my customer’s) time messing around with Number 2 AVG, or any of the other free alternatives out there. When you take my free security class, “Fight the Internet Bad Guys and Win,” at the library, I give you step-by-step instructions on how to configure Avira.
Some folks think they need more in a security product and don’t mind paying for a more secure feeling. Those who want a paid security “suite” should look at top-rated products from Avira, G Data and Kaspersky. Last year’s number two and three, ESET and BitDefender, are now number 4 and 5. McAfee, which I have always thought was awful, is rated at the bottom of the barrel, and is, in my opinion, not even worth installing. Norton is number 8.
Much as they may be loath to admit it, Apple Mac users need antimalware software, too. Contrary to ancient mythology, Macs are not immune to viruses or spyware and need protection, just like PCs. The top antimalware products for Macs are from Avira (free), ESET (paid) and Sophos (free). While there may be fewer viruses that attack Macs compared to PCs, they do exist, and Mac users need to take precautions. To ignore the threat is, to put it bluntly, irresponsible.