How to buy security software

Windows-Defender

Security software is essential for any computer that connects to the internet. From full security suites and standalone anti-virus software to free security programs, we’ll help you decide which one is best for you.

Why do I need security software?
As computers nowadays have a constant connection to the internet, there’s a strong chance that they can become infected with viruses and other malware if they don’t have security software installed. Viruses can cripple your computer and erase files and other information. Spyware is malicious software that secretly downloads to your computer. Once installed, it can monitor your online activity, collecting personal information such as passwords and allow hackers to take remote control of your PC.

The best way to protect your computer from all types of malware is to install security software.

What is security software?
To protect your computer, it’s essential that you install several different types of security software:

  • a firewall that acts as a gatekeeper between your PC and the internet. It identifies and blocks attacks from hackers or malware such as viruses. 
  • anti-virus software that scans your computer for viruses, spyware, Trojans, worms and other malware, and removes them if found. 
  • anti-spyware software that scans your computer and removes any spyware it finds.

Other useful tools for protecting your computer include spam filtering to help block unwanted emails and parental controls that help keep your children safe when online.

Security suites
You can get all the essential tools you need to protect your PC in one go by buying a security suite. Typically these costs between £30 and £50. This usually includes a year’s subscription to automatic updates that keep it up to date against the latest threats. The main advantage of using a suite rather than individual security tools, is that you can check and manage all the processes in one place. Some suites, such as Norton 360 Version 6.0, offer the ability to back up files either locally or online, as well as tune-up tools to improve your computer’s performance. If you want to protect all your internet-connected devices, look for a cross platform multi-device security suite such as McAfee All Access or Kaspersky Internet Security Multi-Device.

Standalone software
However, you may not want or need to buy a full security suite. Your computer may already come with certain security features preinstalled or you may wish select a standalone anti-virus package. Alternatively, you may want to take a mix and match approach by downloading free security tools from the internet, which provide a basic level of protection.

Free or paid-for security software
Free security software provides basic antivirus protection. It can help you locate and remove viruses and malware on your PC, but lacks the extra features found in paid-for security packages and suite. Typically, security suites includes a firewall that controls both incoming and outgoing traffic to the internet, identity protection software and parental controls so you can monitor your children’s activities online. Some premium packages also include maintenance, back-up and recovery tools.  

Advantages of free security software

  • You can completely protect your computer using separate free antivirus, antispyware, spam filtering and firewall programs.
  • You can choose only the tools you need. If you already have a built-in firewall and antispyware program, you can avoid the expense of a security suite by simply buying anti-virus software.
  • You can try different tools to find the best one for you without wasting money.

Disdvantages of free security software

  • Free security tools provide only a basic level of protection and lacks the extra features of paid-for software.
  • You must keep each program updated to ensure you’re protected against the latest threats.
  • Free security software is usually single-user so you’ll need to download, install and manage a separate version on all your computers.
  • Most free programs have limited technical support, usually limited to online support only.

Advantages of paid-for security software

  • Offers all-round protection through a single interface.
  • Individual tools in the suite are automatically updated so you can be sure that you’re protected from the latest threats.
  • May come with a multi-user licence so you can use it on more than one computer.
  • May include useful extras, such backup and recovery tools to help you restore your computer in the event of a virus infection.
  • Paid-for security suites often provide better customer and technical support.

Disadvantages paid-for security software cons

  • Can be expensive with ongoing annual subscriptions.
  • You may not always need all the tools a suite provides.
  • Some suites can drain system resources, potentially slowing down your PC.

Windows 8 security software
Unlike previous versions, Windows 8 has stronger security features. Microsoft Security Essentials has been replaced with Windows Defender, which has been beefed up to include antivirus protection along with anti-spyware features. It runs in the background, alerting you when you need to take action. Windows 8 users are also protected by a two-way firewall that monitors internet traffic.

Other Windows 8 security features are a SmartScreen filter that helps to protect against phishing scams, and parental controls for monitoring children’s activities online.

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