Will Claney, Tech Talk

Setting the record straight on ­antivirus options

Will Claney, Tech Talk(June 3, 2024) — Does your antivirus software hold up to current stringent standards, or was it just a freebie afterthought?

If you think your files, photos and banking passwords are protected, read no further. However, if you suspect your antivirus protection could use a review, continue reading.

Given today’s cyber threats, Windows XP would be infected within 30 seconds of being on the Internet, according to Microsoft’s Co-Pilot. Windows 10 and 11 are much better – now it takes hours to days.

Tyler Von Harz of History Computer tells the tale of products to avoid: “Some of the most famous antivirus software brands are not something that you should put on your computer.”

Many brands introduce their own problems, from poor performance to outright messing with other installed software. Here are some reviews from Tyler and me.

Protection

Norton, one of the most well-known antivirus brands. “The most misleading loophole in Norton’s offerings is that it does not include real-time protection, ultimately defeating the entire point. You also shouldn’t notice that antivirus software is running at all, but Norton makes its presence known.”

McAfee. “More known for the annoying popups that come with the service, rather than the service itself. Then, when people do talk about the service, it is usually with an attitude of annoyance beyond those popups. Users cannot control updates, with many reporting activities being completely interrupted with no real way out. Ultimately, McAfee is completely outdated, while some of these other options may still have one or two positive redeeming qualities.”

MacKeeper. “MacKeeper has a long history of misdeeds,” according to Tyler. “On the surface, it even seems like a scam or like it’s malware that you’re trying to avoid.”

Webroot. “Should come with a warning sign that tells every user not to attempt uninstalling it. It is incredibly difficult to uninstall the program, with many users giving up entirely, succumbing to their fate, and realizing they should have avoided the software altogether.”

Avast. “Another company that managed to do exactly what a security company should never even think of – sell their customers’ data to a third party. One simple action completely tarnished the brand’s reputation forever. Before then, though, Avast would show extremely threatening popups to its users. Antivirus software is meant to protect users, not scare them.”

Kaspersky. Ditto. Banned by the U.S. government, this Russian made software is among the worst, in my opinion. Full stop.

PCMatic. In my opinion, all bad news with a review rating of 3.5 out of 5 from respected reviewers. This is a “whitelist” software that requires you to tell it if you think the website you are going to visit is OK. Really? “Blacklists,” on the other hand, are downloads that run a scan against your files to detect hacks.

Good news

There is some good news: Microsoft includes Windows Defender with Windows 10, 11 and 12. It’s free, and it’s pretty darn good. If you want free, this is the only one I would recommend, although it uses a blacklist.

Antivirus powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) includes real-time protection vs. downloading definition files, making it many times more effective than anything else on the market. It’s not a whitelist or a blacklist. It doesn’t use a definition file to try to match a virus to a definition of a virus, it is intelligence.

When a program wanders off and tries to do something it isn’t supposed to do, it’s a virus. SentinelOne is the winner in my view. It real-time AI. It thinks and acts without user involvement, it is managed for you and it is the best money can buy.

Now go do the right thing and protect yourself.

Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.

Will Claney
Will Claney

William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.

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