The Need for Anti-Malware Protection

The holiday season is an exciting time for both consumers and fraudsters. The hustle and bustle gives criminals ample opportunity for cyberattack, phishing and malware infections.

It’s especially important that you’re prepared for the influx of phishing schemes and cyberattacks that you can expect this holiday season. No matter what time of year, we strongly recommend that you protect your computer and other devices with anti-malware or anti-virus software. In fact, security experts detected 172 million malware attacks just in Q2 of 2016 alone.

Many of you may be wondering: “Who cares? Who needs anti-malware software?” This guide will walk you through the need for anti-malware protection during the holidays and year-round. Plus, see which free anti-malware programs are recommended to protect your devices without breaking your budget.

Malware: What Am I Fighting Against?

Malware is used as a general term to refer to any malicious software. Malware is used in a variety of ways, and it can be built to carry out different types of functions.
Malware can…
  • Hide behind a disguise. Malware can appear to be Microsoft files like Word Docs, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, images, PDFs and more. This type of malware is often referred to as a “Trojan.”
  • Infect existing files on your computer. Malware can create “back doors” to allow hackers access to your computer from the inside. This type of malware is often referred to as a “virus.”
  • Track your behavior. Malware can act as a hidden spy that tracks your keystrokes and other user behaviors to capture sensitive information like login credentials, financial account numbers and any other information you’ve entered from your computer. This type of malware is often referred to as “spyware.”
With all types of malware, you may notice that your computer speed is lagging, your files or windows open slower, or the programs installed on your computer are not running properly.
Source: Malwarebytes

Is anti-malware really necessary?

Unfortunately, even the best anti-malware software cannot catch every threat you may encounter. However, it’s important that – paid or not – you have some form of effective anti-malware that will help catch as many potential attacks as possible.

Below are two highly-rated free anti-malware options on the market (for Mac and PC) that offer effective protection against malware without adding an extra bill:

Avast Free Mac Security (Mac)

Additional Features: Password Manager, email scanning, browser extension tools

Avast Free Mac Security works by scanning your computer for known vulnerabilities, infected files and potential malware attacks. It also includes additional security features like a Password Manager to keep your passwords safe, an email scanning feature that looks for malware in email attachments, and browser tools to help you navigate the Internet safely. Additionally, Avast addresses malware even if it is not directly affecting your computer. If PC malware, for example, was found on your Mac, the program would quarantine it to keep it from spreading to other devices.

Bitdefender Free Edition (PC)

Additional Features: Stand-alone home network scanner (separate download), browser extension tools

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition package has been highly rated for its simple, yet effective malware protection. It not only scans for instances of known malware, but it will also monitor for new malware behavior and ongoing attacks. Patches for new malware are applied several times a day to its 400 million users, and experts have noted that no other free anti-malware software can match its protective capabilities.

Three Common Anti-Malware Myths

Use these debunked myths to help you use your anti-malware software properly so that it offers you the best protection possible:

  1. “I’m safe from malware infections because I use a Mac.” The shift from PC to Mac computers has forced fraudsters to turn their attention to iOS devices. McAfee Labs found that malware attacks targeting Macs increased 744 percent in 2016.
  2. “I don’t need anti-malware because I know I won’t click on fake email attachments.” More sophisticated malware programs can run in the background of your computer while you remain unaware of the damage they are causing. Not all malware looks or acts the same, and new types are being created every day.
  3. “I installed anti-malware, so now I don’t ever need to check it again. It’ll do all the work for me.” While anti-malware programs are designed to catch potential attacks and threats to your computer, even the most sophisticated software on the market is less effective without proper maintenance. Be sure your anti-malware programs are always up-to-date with the latest security patches so that it will work as efficiently as possible.

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