Finding the Security Software That Suits Your Needs

04/08/2016 04:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Along with the numerous benefits the internet offers, not the least of which is access to information 24/7, hackers and malicious entities roam the cyberspace, justifying the oft-used expression, "This is why we can't have good things."

Spear phishing, spam, malware, viruses, worms, ransomware - there's a whole battalion of them waiting in the sidelines to launch an attack, especially on unprotected, unsuspecting users. (For more information, this Infosec article differentiates one virus or malicious code type from another.)

This being the norm, leaving the security of your devices to fate is irresponsible. Keeping your computers and smartphones protected is paramount, the same way securing your house before you retire for the night is second nature for most people around the world.

Surely, you don't want your private information plastered on public forums for the world to see, or your bank accounts wiped clean without your permission.

The good news is that security software products to safeguard your devices - home computers, office computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones - are plenty. The bad news is that there are so many of them on the market that it can be difficult to determine which best suits your needs. Those days when security software choices were a toss-up between McAfee and Norton are long gone.

This article offers a proven two-step process to find the security software that's just right for you.

1. Research

Although it can potentially consume a good chunk of your time, thorough research can do you no wrong. If anything, it saves you from buyer's remorse in the long run.

Some pointers to remember when conducting your research on security software:

Cross-platform, multi-device security

In 2014 alone, 40% of adults online used multiple devices, switching between them to start and complete activities.

And because users nowadays would rather get things done than tinker with the security of their devices, according to PCMag, one vital aspect to consider when looking at security software is multi-device, cross-platform safeguarding. This software type requires just one account to protect all of your devices - PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.

Examples of security software that fit this mold are McAfee All Access, Norton Security Premium, Kaspersky Total Security Multi-Device, Bitdefender Family Pack 2016, and ESET Multi-Device Security.

AV-TEST

Headquartered in Germany, the AV-TEST Institute is an independent IT security and antivirus research organization that has been in the space for over 15 years.

With more than 30 IT experts on board, what it does is carry out tests to detect the latest security threats to various computing platforms, such as Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android devices, and how security software fare against certain benchmarks.

Results of their findings are published according to area of application, and you only need to navigate to the area you'd like information on, be it mobile, home, or corporate.

Each security application is tested based on three criteria: protection, performance, and usability.

As of this writing, in the Home User, Windows category, the top antivirus software systems are visibly marked with a "top product" badge. These are Avira Antivirus Pro 2016, Kaspersky Lab Internet Security 2016, Norton Security 2016, and Trend Micro Internet Security 2016.

Technology and software review sites

With security software - or any software, for that matter - there's a long list of tech sites you can run to for information: CNET, PCMag, PCWorld, TechRepublic, among many others. Experts and seasoned tech journalists regularly publish pieces on various tech topics to educate the general public.

Software review sites also abound. A few examples are TrustRadius and G2Crowd. But be careful to only trust those that employ sufficient credibility safeguards to ensure the authenticity of their reviews and the trustworthiness of their recommendations.

As Forbes.com contributor Louis Columbus points out, positive reviews can easily be bought from sites like Fiverr and Freelance.com.

2. Trial

No matter how highly actual users think of certain applications, there's no guarantee they'll work as well for you as they did for them. Perhaps the best and only way to gauge a security system's effectiveness is by taking it for a trial run in your own unique environment.

Software research trims down your choices into a manageable list, so you need not try a whole bunch to find the right fit. For software that do not offer freemium plans, take advantage of free trials.

When testing security software, look for the following features:

● Real-time scanning
● Scheduled scans
● Email protection
● Compressed file scanning
● Script blocking
● Automatic software updates
● Social networking protection
● Browsing protection
● PC maintenance

When it's time to buy, coupon codes and discounts can be availed from sites such as Amazon, Cloudswave, and YahooShopping.

Final word

Since good old common sense isn't enough to keep digital harm at bay, remember to protect your devices by installing reliable security software. When it comes to technology, especially the internet, it pays to be safe than sorry.