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Antivirus is a piece of software that’s designed to detect and remove malicious programs, also known as malware, from your computers and laptops. Malware is code that can steal your personal information, compromise your device’s performance and even damage your system. It can hide in attachments of dubious emails, on a USB drive or on a suspicious website and can attack your devices and networks at will.

Many cyberthreats are difficult to identify without antivirus protection. Viruses are not the only threat to your devices, as malware like Trojans can infiltrate a network and steal personal information from multiple users. Hackers can use this information for their own financial gain, or to access your bank accounts and take control of your funds and finances. For this reason, it’s vital to use antivirus software that offers real-time protection and a wide range of features.

The best antivirus software 2021 should be able to protect you against the most common types of malware, including viruses and Trojans, as well as spyware, adware and rootkits. It should also provide a wide range of additional safety features, such as a VPN and identity theft protection.

Antivirus software most commonly works by scanning files and code as they pass through your network. It then looks for matches in a database of already-known viruses and malware, flagging and removing any that are found. Some packages also offer heuristic detection, which looks for patterns in the behavior of malware to catch new threats that haven’t been seen before. Heuristic detection must be tuned carefully to avoid security alert fatigue, which can degrade a security system’s effectiveness and create user frustration.