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Best Antivirus Software in 2022

When it comes to technology, the most essential piece of software is your antivirus protection. Without it, you are at significant risk of falling victim to malware, viruses, spyware, ransomware, adware, hackers, scammers, and other nasty online threats. 

Capable antivirus software is critical to have on your PC or laptop, as it can defend against cybercriminals and protect your device from being attacked by viruses. As technology advances, so do viruses and hackers. The good news is that antivirus software is also evolving and becoming more efficient at identifying threats and stopping them in their tracks. 

There is a whole range of antivirus software to choose from, with each offering additional features on top of airtight virus protection. Most software is easy to use and comes in a reasonably priced subscription package, so you don’t even have to empty your wallet to fully shield your devices against all known online risks.

But with so many to choose from, which is the best antivirus software of 2022? 

Cursor hovering over security notification.

To find out more about the risks your devices are exposed to without antivirus software, go to the official Nidirect government website

Our top antivirus software picks 2022

  • Norton 360 – Overall best choice 
  • Bitdefender – Best protection against malware
  • Kaspersky – Top-notch antivirus engine

Our top FREE antivirus software picks 2022

  • Avast – Overall best free protection
  • AVG – Most flexibility for users
  • Avira – Helpful additional features

Why do I need an antivirus? 

Threats are lurking everywhere online. Malicious software, for example, can be injected into your devices through seemingly normal online activities. Whether that is visiting an unfamiliar website, plugging in a USB drive, opening up an email attachment, or even clicking on a link. Whatever way malware gets to your devices, once there it can steal (identity theft) or even erase your data completely. 

Many users are unaware of the risks associated with seemingly standard online actions. In fact, over a quarter of ransomware infections are caused by poor user practices and gullibility. Once they have reached your device, viruses can quickly spread and wreak havoc by impacting the system’s performance, stealing your personal information, and even completely wiping out all your data. 

Cybercriminals can target the weakest and most vulnerable parts of your devices to cause irreversible damage before you even know they have been exposed. Bots and malware can flood your devices, and before you know it, your search engine results are being diverted, pop-up ads are flooding your screen, and your device is being remotely controlled by a hacker. These are just a few of the outcomes that can come as a result of your device being unprotected. 

Antivirus software works as a shield that guards your device against these attacks. A trusted antivirus can detect and protect against threats such as malware, spyware, ransomware, adware, rootkits, bots, and viruses. Most software programs also offer recovery tools that can cleanse your device if it has been attacked to rid it of any malicious software. See the National Cyber Security Centre for more information on how to correctly use your antivirus to prevent malware and cyberattacks. 

“For the average home-user, anti-virus software is a must.” Kevin Mitnick, computer security consultant, and convicted hacker. 

Best Antivirus Software 2022

1. Norton 360 Deluxe

Supported platforms – Windows 10, macOS, Android, iOS

Pros – A powerful anti-malware engine and lots of extra security tools 

Cons – The Deluxe plan is on the pricier side

Norton 360 is packed full of high-quality features on top of its unbeatable base protection. With Norton, your data and devices are secure and protected from malware. The software also uses emulation, AI, and machine learning to rapidly filter vast amounts of data to automatically identify potential threats before they have a chance to infect users’ devices. The Norton 360 deluxe subscription is our recommended plan as with this you can protect up to 5 devices at once and you’ll also get 50 GB of PC cloud backup storage. 

With this subscription plan, you get loads of useful features such as a password manager, firewall, parental control, and most importantly, malware and virus protection. Additionally, Norton’s dark web monitoring feature will continuously search the dark web to identify which websites have suffered data exposure and where sensitive information such as your passwords have been compromised. 

Another notable feature included in Norton’s 360 Deluxe plan is Safecam for PC. Cybercriminals can use spyware to take photos or recordings using your PC or laptop’s webcam without your knowledge. This can become very serious and these cybercriminals have been known to use this spyware to blackmail users and extort money. Norton’s Safecam feature can safeguard your webcam by preventing and blocking unauthorized access. 

With Norton 360 you’ll also get a VPN which is useful for protecting your privacy and anonymity online. If you regularly use public Wi-Fi networks, or you are located in a highly restrictive and censored country, then this included VPN is a fantastic bonus. You can also use this VPN on up to 5 devices at once with unlimited data through Norton’s 360 Deluxe plan. 

If you don’t want to opt for the Deluxe plan then you can make use of Norton’s standard option. With this cheaper plan, you’ll only be able to protect one device, but you’ll still get 10 GB of cloud backup storage in addition to a secure VPN, firewall for computers, and a password manager. 

Overall, Norton’s impressive protection against threats, combined with an excellent selection of additional features, makes it our top choice of antivirus software. As mentioned before, we highly recommend the 360 Deluxe plan, but if you’re on a budget then the cheaper standard plan is also a fantastic alternative. 

2. Bitdefender 

Supported platforms – Windows 10, macOS, Android, iOS

Pros – Excellent protection against malware

Cons – Limited mobile app and cap on VPN data

Bitdefender is another exceptional antivirus software that offers all the features that you need to stay secure and protected online. It’s a cheaper alternative that is ideal for new users and those who are not particularly tech-savvy. Bitdefender is great at identifying potential risks without slowing down users’ devices and the software’s interface is polished and easy to use

Bitdefender aims to identify and stop hackers and malicious software before they even have a chance to attack a user’s device. Their intelligent technology constantly monitors suspicious networks to block sophisticated exploits and safeguard important documents, photos, videos, and other files against ransomware attacks. 

Bitdefender offers some interesting features such as a file shredder that permanently erases all traces of a chosen file on the user’s device, and a Wi-Fi security advisor which automatically assesses the security of any network or router users connect to. Also, Bitdefender’s included VPN provides superb connection speeds and offers servers based in over 30 countries. 

With Bitdefender, you can save and manage passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information in a highly secure cyber vault. There is also a SafePay mode which automatically fills in payment information whilst also securing users’ translations to prevent risks of fraud. 

One of Bitdefender’s main drawbacks is its limited mobile apps which only offer basic protection. However, if you’re using Bitdefender for Windows 10 then you’ll be getting top-notch protection along with additional privacy tools such as Bitdefender VPN and Bitdefender Safepay. There is also an included browser extension called Anti-Tracker that blocks ad trackers and notifies the user of potential threats on each website that they visit. This extension can be altered, so users can disable the automatic blocking of some specific categories if they wish. 

To conclude, Bitdefender provides advanced technology and tools that quickly identify and block all sorts of attacks, ranging from malware to online scams. Their subscription is slightly less expensive than other top providers which makes it a perfect choice for first-time users. This antivirus software is aimed at Windows 10 users but can still be used on macOS, iOS, and Android. 

3. Kaspersky

Supported platforms – Windows 10, macOS, Android, iOS

Pros – Impressive anti-virus engine

Cons – Fairly basic additional features

If you’re looking for outstanding security features but aren’t worried about many other additions, then look no further than Kaspersky. This antivirus offers high-quality protection against viruses and malware without impacting the device’s speed or performance. Kaspersky has a loyal user base which just proves how much they have to offer when it comes to reliable security tools.

Kaspersky employs a two-way firewall that will constantly monitor your Wi-Fi network to quickly flag any suspicious activity. You can also choose from a selection of different scans that all target different parts of your device. For example, their removable device scan will target USB sticks and external hard drives whilst their vulnerability scan will target out-of-date applications and exposed software. You can choose when and how often Kaspersky will perform these scans and you can also select the quick scan option which scans system start-up files and memory files in just a few minutes. 

Their anti-phishing tool checks for suspicious content in emails to protect you against scams and will also automatically perform regular scans to identify and repel attackers who are attempting to infiltrate and take over your device. Kaspersky also has an anti-tracker tool that prevents tracking from social media websites and ad agencies. 

Kaspersky also includes features such as parental controls, a VPN, and a password manager. However, these are nothing to rave about and aren’t as fleshed out as some of the other competitors mentioned in this list. If you aren’t interested in additional features such as these, then you can still make use of Kaspersky’s excellent anti-virus engine.

Overall, Kaspersky is incredibly reliable and offers some of the best protection against cyber-attacks. It would be nice to see Kaspersky improve on some of its additional features to provide users with an exceptional all-around package. However, if you’re not interested in using features such as the VPN or password manager, then you can still make use of Kaspersky’s terrific anti-virus engine which is one of the best in the current antivirus software market. 

“One single vulnerability is all an attacker needs.” — Window Snyder; Chief Security Officer & founder of Thistle Technologies

Best Free Antivirus Software 2022

Although premium options are generally preferred, you can still get fantastic basic protection from free antivirus software. They may lack extra security features and you will usually need to make multiple accounts if you want to protect more than one device. However, if you’re on a tight budget then free antivirus software is definitely better than having zero protection against online threats.

We’ve gathered the top best free antivirus software so you still have plenty of options for online protection even if you don’t want to splash out on the premium options. 

1. Avast Free 

Supported platforms – Windows 10, macOS, Android, iOS

Pros – Impressive malware protection 

Cons – Missing a few additional features 

Avast is another key contender that can offer users effective protection against all online threats without slowing down their devices. With some additional features and plenty of scan and shield options, Avast offers users all that they need to stay safe from malware and viruses without having to spend a single penny. 

Avast’s secure browser is offered during the software installation and helps to protect users against invasive ad trackers, hackers, and phishing websites. It also blocks pop-up ads which can help speed up page load times. 

The initial scan that is performed after installation goes through three key stages; browser threats, malware & viruses, and advanced issues. The final stage will inform users of any sensitive files that have a higher risk of being changed, stolen, or held hostage. After the first scan is performed users can choose from several scan options or even create their own custom scan. Additionally, their ‘Quick Scan’ option is very fast and thorough enough to detect any present risks or vulnerabilities. 

Avast offers users four core shields that will protect them against any online risks. Users can choose to be protected by; the file shield, which scans any files that are added to their device, the behavior shield, which warns them of any apps that are performing suspiciously, the web shield, which blocks unsafe web downloads, and finally the mail shield, which checks incoming and outgoing emails for dangerous attachments or links. 

Avast performs exceptionally well at blocking malware attacks and securing threats with very few risks slipping past its protection. This software can also easily detect phishing websites and will automatically update itself whenever a new attack is discovered so that it can constantly evolve to block and fight against new phishing attempts and malicious technology. 

Avast’s free package offers a valuable privacy feature called ‘Hack Alerts’ that constantly monitors users’ accounts to identify any hacks or password leaks. Avast also offers a password manager is another great addition that you don’t see included in many free antivirus packages. Unfortunately, features such as a data shredder and webcam shield are only included in the premium package.

2. AVG Free 

Supported platforms – Windows 10, macOS, Android

Pros – Plenty of user flexibility 

Cons – Very few extra features

Although Avast and AVG merged in 2016, the two company’s antivirus software remains separate, with each of them offering a unique selection of features under a free package. Although AVG is supported by macOS and Android, it’s optimized for the Windows 10 audience who will receive the most benefits and features from this free antivirus software. 

With a straightforward interface and advanced malware protection, AVG is a great free antivirus that can protect your important files and keep hackers away. This software includes helpful features such as a file shredder, which permanently erases all selected files using the same technology as the US Department of Defence. 

AVG gives you plenty of flexibility when it comes to scans. You can schedule when and how often scans are performed in addition to selecting which files you want to be excluded from said scans. The range of options available for scans is a terrific bonus for free antivirus software but we would like to see an additional ‘Quick Scan’ option implemented in the future. 

AVG scans also don’t seem to impact users’ devices as much as other antivirus software and PCs especially will still run smoothly even when a deep scan is being performed. 

AVG’s ransomware protection also offers users some flexibility. You can opt for either ‘Smart Mode’ where trusted apps are permitted to change or delete files, or ‘Strict Mode’ where all apps must ask for permission before making any changes. AVG’s anti-ransomware software will not only protect you against threats lurking in web pages, but also those hidden in malicious links, attachments, and emails.

Unfortunately, there are no parental controls or password managers offered in the free package, but these are bonuses that are often unnecessary if you’re just looking for basic protection against malware and viruses. 

AVG comes in at a very close second place as Avast has just a few more additional features. However, this AVG package has a very impressive selection of features and user flexibility which makes it another ideal choice for those looking for free online protection.

3. Avira Free

Supported Platforms – Windows 10, macOS

Pros – Many features include in a free package 

Cons – Some features are very basic

Although Avira doesn’t offer all the extra features that we have seen from the premium antivirus options, it still does a great job at protecting its users against viruses, malware, and other cyber threats.

When using online banking or making a payment, Avira will open up a secure browser to guard your sensitive details against hackers. There is also an included password manager that, although basic, will still generate and store online passwords in a secure database. For free antivirus software, the password manager is surprisingly functional and very useful for providing extra security for users.

Avira offers plenty of additional features such as a file shredder, startup optimizer, battery saver, and power cleaner. The interface clearly shows users which features are available and how they work, making the user experience very swift and efficient.

Another feature included in Avira’s free package is a tune-up tool that assesses which programs are putting the most stress on your device and can clean up your system to improve its overall performance. There is also an included VPN which again is basic but a nice addition that is rare to find in a free antivirus package. You can use up to 500 MB of data with Avira’s VPN to anonymously and safely browse the web.  

As already outlined, it’s better to opt for a free antivirus software rather than not have any at all and Avira goes above and beyond when it comes to their free package. You not only revive superb online protection against hackers and malware attacks, but you also get some other useful features such as a safe banking mode and password manager. 

FAQS

Do I really need to use antivirus software?

Definitely! Cybercriminals can be sneaky and malware threats can be easily hidden so you’ll never truly know what risks your devices are exposed to without using antivirus software.

What is the best antivirus software in 2022?

Our top antivirus software for 2022 is Norton 360 as it offers a range of top-grade security features on top of an incredibly reliable anti-malware engine. 

Can I use free antivirus software?

Yes! If you’re on a budget then you can opt for free antivirus software. They tend to offer fewer features overall compared to premium options but it’s still better to use free antivirus software rather than have no protection at all,

What is the best free antivirus software in 2022?

Our top free antivirus software for 2022 is Avast as it offers an impressive selection of features that are not usually included in free packages and has the most secure anti-malware protection.

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