Antivirus software is essential for computers. TEST examined which product best protects your PC.
The threat from malware, fraud, and other forms of cybercrime is greater than ever. According to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), a civil federal authority within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community, the risk situation in Germany has reached the red alert level due to advancing digitization and the complexity of today’s cyber attacks. Effective antivirus programs are all the more important. Read here which program provides the best protection, as well as important information and tips on the subject.
That’s why antivirus programs are so important
In the yearly report “The circumstance of IT security in Germany 2021”, the Bonn authority stresses that the most serious peril exudes from malware and ransomware. Between June 2020 and the end of May 2021, officials identified 144 million new malware variants – an increase of 22 percent compared to the previous year. In February 2021, the BSI discovered a record number of 553,000 new malware variants in just one day. The experts have therefore upgraded the threat level from cyber-attacks from “tense” in 2020 to “tense to critical” now.
How well do antivirus programs protect Windows computers from the latest threats? To check this precisely, TEST, in cooperation with security partner AV-TEST, intensively tested ten security suites for their protective effect, system load, and usability.
E-mail protection: The user is also asked
One of the biggest problems right now is phishing. Online thieves use phishing emails to literally “fish” for your online login data. To do this, the fraudsters send bogus emails that look as if they came directly from your bank. Alleged problems with online banking, unpaid bills, or changes to the terms and conditions usually serve as a hook. The scammers try to lure the recipient to fake websites, where he is then tricked into typing in account numbers, passwords, PINs, and transaction numbers (TANs), which the scammers then pick up. In addition, hidden malware often lurks on the pages. So not only antivirus programs but also the users themselves are asked to look twice at e-mails.
Identify phishing emails
Spammers are becoming more and more professional. They now write to the victims personally. Gone are the days when phishing messages were easy to spot with lots of spelling mistakes and absurd packaging. So how would you learn about phishing? The most important hallmark: phishing messages always follow a scheme F. The culprit is usually a security issue or other issue that supposedly needs to be solved.
Rule number one: Banks, payment processors, and other companies NEVER ask for passwords, login data, or other personal data by email or telephone. Anyone who heeds this rule is already on the safe side. But people are people. It’s quite possible that you’re not doing the right thing or not looking closely. And it’s already happened. Therefore, observe the following safety rules:
- Never click on links
- Do not open file attachments
- Do not answer
- Never respond to phishing spam: In this case, the cybercriminals know that the email address is being used. This results in even more spam and phishing emails.
How antivirus programs protect against phishing
Antivirus programs will also help you to detect phishing messages. Except for Microsoft Defender, all tested programs offer additional protection. They either block the phishing messages directly in the mailbox or warn against opening dangerous websites and infected file attachments. Using a password manager, which all antivirus suites except Microsoft, Avast, and AVG also have on board, is also helpful. Because the password manager does not offer saved login data for a certain website, it is almost certainly a fake version.
Internet protection with antivirus: Surf safely
In the past, computer viruses usually found their way onto PCs via infected diskettes, but today the Internet is the most common route of infection. Then as now, it was about control over the computer – but the intentions of virus programmers have changed fundamentally. In the early days, it was mostly about shenanigans and some fame. A funny message on the screen, a malfunction here and there – the first viruses did not cause any real damage. For example, anyone who caught the “Casino” virus in 1991 had to gamble for the contents of their hard drive with the malicious program “Jackpot”.
Viruses: No funnier
But with increasing internet use, the fun times were over. Instead of clever programmers, cybercriminals are increasingly taking over the helm. If they are not stopped by anti-virus programs, modern pests record the victim’s keystrokes (keyloggers), convert PCs into spam ejectors (bloatware), or allow attackers to control the computer remotely via the Internet (backdoors). Blackmail Trojans, also known as ransomware, have been causing a lot of fuss lately.
In the first half of 2021 alone, security researchers recorded 304.7 million ransomware attacks worldwide – that corresponds to 151 percent compared to the previous year. The scheme is the same for everyone. The malware initially acts in the background and secretly encrypts the user data. Then he starts the blocking mechanism and the blackmailers report via screen message. The threat: Only when money flows can the computer be used again or the encrypted data retrieved.
This is how computers become infected with viruses
But how do viruses, trojans, and other malware manage to get onto a Windows computer in the first place?
To do this, they use various gateways:
- Careless installation of software
- Contaminated websites
- Vulnerabilities in programs