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Antivirus is software that keeps your devices, files and online activity safe from malware threats. The best antivirus programs not only detect known malware based on signatures that are updated constantly, but also spot new threats using technologies like machine learning and AI. They also scan your external devices, run full-system scans and sift through your email, apps, web activities and other data to detect malicious code or suspicious behavior.

Viruses and other types of malware can do far more than annoy you with slow systems or inconvenient wipes; they can steal your personal information, compromise your bank accounts, destroy your files or all of the above. Today’s criminal hackers aren’t just show-off hackers massaging their egos; they want your money, your privacy and the security of your files – and you can bet they’ll use every trick in the book to get it.

One of the first things to look for in a top-rated antivirus program is how well it performs at detecting and blocking malware. Antivirus companies test their programs not only to see how many different kinds of malware they can block using largely signature-based detection methods, but also how quickly they can stop brand-new, unknown malware caught in the wild.

Other features to look for in the best antivirus programs include a password manager that generates super strong passwords and saves them so you don’t have to remember them, and parental controls that let you monitor your kids’ activity without spying on them or limiting what they can do online. You should also make sure that any antivirus program you consider includes a device finder that lets you track down a lost Android or iOS device, and remotely lock or erase it to keep your data secure.