5 Free Antimalware Programs in 2019


In 2019 cybersecurity is more important than ever before; last year cybercrime cost the Australian economy approximately 1 billion dollars. Locking the doors is an option to keep the crooks out but, a digital bouncer in the form of antimalware software will allow legitimate access while keeping the crooks away from your files. Some of the software I talk about will detect an infection the moment it begins and stops it in its tracks while other software will only pick up infections afterward during a scan.

No software will protect you from all threats, particularly newly discovered threats, and while some antimalware programs can detect and stop ransomware early in the process, having up to date backups is still required for proper protection from ransomware attacks.

Antimalware programs with plugins for your browser of choice can even protect you from malicious links that try to phish your passwords or redirect you to malware downloads.

Below I will talk about five different antimalware programs in no order.

  1. Windows Defender – Windows Defender is a free antimalware program that comes bundled with Windows. It won’t beat a paid antimalware suite but, it will hold its own against some of the free offerings. It can have a small to moderate impact on performance, protect all web browsers and has basic parental controls. If you don’t think you have any antimalware software installed and are running a recent version of Windows, then you are probably already using Windows Defender.
  2. AVG Free Edition – Excellent scores in tests but slower scanning times. AVG and Avast share the same parent company, but AVG lacks in features like browser plugins compared to its sister product Avast Antivirus.
  3. Bit Defender Antivirus Free Edition – Uses the same engine as the paid version but lacks some of the advanced scanning features. The free edition of Bit Defender does include browser plugins to block known phishing and malicious web links.
  4. Avast Free Antivirus – Developed by the same company as AVG Anti-Virus but includes more features at the expense of performance and is better for more powerful systems. Some of the extra features include a Password manager and a network security scanner to perform basic audits on your network devices.
  5. Avira Antivirus – Great scores in testing but has fallen by the wayside over the years since it was the best. Avira is heavy on system resources and does not always detect the latest malware. It does have many features, but often they are just trials for the paid version.

I feel that Windows Defender is enough for most users, but everyone has different requirements. Ultimately it is up to you to research and determine which product, either free or paid, suits your needs the best so, here are some websites that you can use to find a product that best suits your individual needs.

https://www.avg.com/en/signal/best-free-antivirus-software Please note this company owns AVG and Avast Antivirus. I have included them because they talk about rival products.



What is Ransomware and How to avoid it?

Many of you have probably heard of something called Ransomware on the news and are wondering what it is and how it can affect you. Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware as it is known that after infecting your computer will search for many kinds of files including documents, videos, game saves amongst many other types of file and encrypts them with a key known only to the creators of the malware then attempts to get you to pay the creators to get your files unlocked.

You can get ransomware from infected emails, compromised websites, dodgy internet advertisements and even potentially from infected USB drives. Most decent antivirus software will pick up most variants of ransomware but not all variants. New malware is created as fast as the antivirus companies can detect and block it in an everlasting arms race between security professionals and criminals. In another guide I will be providing reviews of various antivirus software with the pros and cons for each but for now I will be just helping you deal with the risk of ransomware.
The best way to avoid having to pay up after getting your files locked is to keep regular backups. Regular backups will also protect your data from other problems. The most common form of backups is to just copy your files onto a USB drive. If you have Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10 then you are in luck as Microsoft have a backup application called File History which is able to automatically backup your files to an external USB flash or hard drive. File History can also backup to a Network Attached Storage also known as a NAS box. Apple computers are also at risk of ransomware but not as much as windows computers. Apple includes a backup program called Time Machine which can back up to an external drive or a NAS.

USB flash drives are cheap and easily obtainable even many supermarkets stock them in this day and age. USB hard drives cost more but are able to store far more then USB. USB drives also have the advantage of being able to be easily disconnected when you are not actually using them which helps a lot in protecting the backup from also being compromised by ransomware. Network Attached storage has the advantage of being able to backup multiple computers at once, always on for constant backups and able to easily share your media with all your devices but has the disadvantage of being vulnerable to malware able to scan the network for files to lock.

If you are infected with ransomware and your files are locked your options are either to start from scratch, restore from a backup if you have one or pay the criminals for your files to be unlocked. If you are in the unfortunate situation where you have to pay for precious family photos or important business documents to be released you will likely have to pay the criminals in what is known as bitcoin, a semi anonymous internet equivalent to cash making the criminals hard to track down and often they are in countries that place them out of reach of the Australian authorities. It is still a good idea to report them to the police though because something may be able to be done in the future. You may get lucky and be able to negotiate down the fee to get your money back as to the criminals some money is better than none at all but it is not guaranteed.

In conclusion the best defence against ransomware is to mitigate your risk using good antivirus software and have regular backups so that if you happen to get infected not much is at risk of being lost. Small Space IT can help you pick what backup strategy best suits your needs.