Is Free Antivirus Any Good or Should I Pay?
There’s nothing like that first feeling when you power up your brand new device. So fresh. So quiet. So ... zippy!
But before you settle down to enjoy your new superfast web browsing, you need to be sure you have complete digital privacy and security in place.
The last thing you want is for your device to get infected by unwanted programs leaving you, at best, with a painfully slow computer, or at worst, your identity stolen.
You don’t need us to tell you that as our lives become increasingly digital, cybercrime is booming.
- The number of data breaches in the U.S. increased 88% between 2015 and 2019 (Statista)
- Malicious hackers carry out an attack every 39 seconds (University of Maryland)
- Scammers send 6.4 billion fake emails per day (EY)
- 81% of internet users in the U.S. feel their data is vulnerable to attackers (Statista)
The final point would suggest how the majority of people understand they need some sort of online protection. But do you know how much? And is there really a difference between paid and free antivirus?
Here, we’ll explore the difference between the two and help you understand which is your best option.
What’s the difference between paid and free antivirus?
As many a fictional detective has groaned, crime doesn’t take a vacation.
Cybercrime certainly doesn’t.
Hackers are constantly developing new types of malware and scams to take advantage of everyday computer users.
This is essentially the difference between free and paid antivirus.
Free antivirus provides basic protection against computer viruses, while paid solutions are more like security suites. They protect you from all angles and are far better in responding to new threats as they happen.
There’s no one type of digital threat. They’re all a little bit different. But with the ultimate aim of accessing your personal details and infecting your device.
For instance, you have:
Sneaky online ads directing you to malicious sites.
Hacks your computer and essentially shuts it down … until you pay a ransom.
Spies on your online activity without you even knowing.
- Phishing scams
Emails sent from seemingly trusted sources trick you into downloading malware.
- Browser hijacking
Modifies your browser settings to hit you with unwanted ads.
Disguises itself as an innocuous piece of software capable of opening your device up to other malware attacks.
… and that’s just to name a few.
Then you have new, less well-known threats appearing, such as Emotet, SMSishing and IoT attacks. This is where your free antivirus will not be able to match your paid service when it comes to keeping your device secure.
What you can expect with paid antivirus
So, what should you expect to get in a paid antivirus or security suite?
A firewall monitors data going to and from your computer and will either allow or block it based on the settings. It’s an extra layer of protection against unauthorized remote intruders and dangerous content. A firewall alone won’t protect you from all of the various malware threats. However, as part of a security suite, it is an essential line of defence.
Digital security doesn’t just end with blocking malware attacks. Many paid security suites will help you to protect your family from encountering dangerous content on the world wide web. Their Features allow you to block certain sites, block file transfers and even alert you via email if your kids try to access inappropriate content.
Identity theft protection
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to make some sort of gain, usually financial, such as a purchase with your credit card or even obtaining a loan. Over 14 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2018. The best paid digital security software includes added protection against identity theft such as monitoring the major credit reporting agencies for your name and alerting you to any suspicious activity.
As banks and retailers continue to shift their services to mobile apps, mobile devices become increasingly attractive targets for cybercriminals. Today, the majority of online fraud (60%) originates on mobile devices. Effective antivirus security protects all of your devices in one fell swoop, removing the hassle of having to purchase separate licences for each of your devices.
Just as more of our digital lives move to mobile, we’re also adding more connected devices to our daily lives. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to your internet connected gadgets and gizmos such as your cell phone, smartwatch or Wi-Fi thermostat. A paid security solution should make protecting your gadgets as simple as protecting your mobile device.
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts all your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server. It prevents your ISP and hackers from spying on your internet activity and masks your IP address, making your internet activity anonymous.
A 2019 survey by Google found 65% of users reuse passwords on multiple online accounts, leading to a much higher risk of identity theft. Paid security software will often provide a built-in password manager and this syncs across devices to allow you to have unique and strong passwords for all of your online accounts. This is one of the most effective ways of protecting your data online.
One feature you certainly won’t get with free antivirus is dedicated phone support. Probably the biggest difference between the best cybersecurity software and the free versions is the combination of software with human intelligence. For instance, with Clario cybersecurity software, your subscription gets you all the features you would expect from the best antivirus software, plus support from a team of digital security experts on demand, 24/7.
What you can expect with free antivirus
✅ It’s free!
Yep, the main benefit of free antivirus is it doesn’t cost you a cent.
But you know the drill, there’s no such thing as a free ride. Where you don’t pay, you’ll likely have to put up with ads.
❌ Malware scanning
Free antivirus software usually provides a minimum level of protection. It will scan for malware, and maybe even perform automatic scans. It should be every bit as effective at detecting malware as the paid versions.
❌ Less effective in combating new cyber threats
We know malware and cybercriminal tactics are constantly evolving. While paid antivirus providers pride themselves on staying toe-to-toe with the latest updates in cybercrime, free versions can be found wanting when it comes to responding to the latest, yet-unknown threats.
❌ No phone support
Free antivirus will not provide direct technical support, though you may find the answers you need on online support forums.
As more of our activities move online, it makes sense to give yourself peace of mind and let an all-in-one, paid software look after your digital security, while you get on with your day.
You deserve the best protection out there to keep you and your personal information secure.