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Viruses, malware, spyware, rootkits, worms, ransomware, and other online threats aren’t just an annoyance—they can compromise your devices’ performance or destroy your data. Antivirus programs can thwart these attacks by checking your files for signs of infection and running scans to find and eradicate malware before it spreads.

What’s more, most antivirus software now relies on a combination of signature and behavior-based detection methods. The former compares a file’s fingerprint against a database of known malware to detect threats. The latter identifies suspicious behavior patterns to identify new and unknown viruses. Combined, these technologies help your MSP to protect against more sophisticated attacks.

When choosing an AV program, look for high-performing software with multiple protection bells and whistles. In addition to traditional scans and virus definition updates, the best antivirus will monitor your web browser for shady websites and potentially dangerous links, spot unexpected activity that may be a sign of not-yet-identified threats, and offer ransomware protection.

Many AV programs also gather and analyze information about your device and operating system, including URLs visited, metadata about files, signatures of software programs, hardware details, and more. Some AV companies collect this information for their own purposes, and others disclose it in their privacy policies. Read these terms of use carefully to understand exactly what your antivirus is collecting and how it will use it—and then choose a product with an adequate level of transparency.

While a top-rated antivirus program can safeguard your devices and data from many cyberattacks, it’s important to consider other security measures as well. These might include a VPN to bolster your anonymity, a password manager to keep your logins safe, or an identity-theft protection suite.