Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware

Malware, as the name implies, can do a wide range of damage to your computer and to your stored files, and technically includes a number of different subsets including worms, trojans, and viruses.  However, popular anti-malware approaches generally use the term "anti-virus" to mean defense against the more traditional attacks (including worms, trojans, and viruses) and "anti-malware" to mean defense against malicious programs such as spyware and keyloggers.  Modern computer security offerings are often "suites" that include both anti-virus and anti-malware components as well as anti-spam and sometimes firewall protections.

The important thing about any computer security software is to recognize that new attacks, and new types of attack, are being created all the time, and you must keep your protective software up-to-date with the latest patches.

Most operating systems have some security features built-in, so you should check to see what you have before deciding what you need to add.  Similarly, most email readers have anti-spam features, and most  browsers have some level of security

When you're ready to look at dedicated anti-malware suites, check first with your company - many employers have corporate licenses designed specifically for remote workers.  If you don't have that kind of support, you'll find that many of the anti-malware suites have free options that will include most of the features you need.  

For the paid option, you'll pay an annual fee based on the number of devices you are protecting. The full suites usually include a lot more features, such as VPNs, password managers, and even "LifeLock" identity theft insurance.

Note that as of May, 2020, many of the security providers are offering deals of 50% off or more for the first year.  Prices as listed below do NOT include these discounts; they are the prices you'll pay after the introductory deal expires.

  Free option? Annual cost
AVG Internet Security yes $70 for one device; up to $90 for 10 devices
Avira Internet Security yes $72 for one device;  $108 for 5 devices
Bitdefender yes $40 for one device; up to $70 for 10 devices
McAfee Total Protection no $80 for one device; up to $120 for 10 devices
Norton 360 no $80 for one device; $100 for 5 devices

The A-V Test, an independent security test lab, performs regular tests of available anti-malware suites, and reports the results online. For more options and the latest ratings, see:


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