Back in the day when people started buying home PCs, not many people knew that computers could get viruses.  It sounded like a trick question, “Can a computer catch a virus?”. The unfortunate answer was yes and, though that remains true today, antivirus software is on hand to protect not just your PC, but also your phone, laptop and tablet.

What is malware?

A virus is just one type of a broader category of threats called malware, which is simply shorthand for malicious software.

Typically, this software is designed to make the creator money so malware can do various things from encrypting your files and asking you to pay a ransom, to stealing your passwords and other personal information. This is done using so-called keyloggers, which secretly record what you type and send it back to the criminals, who can then use it to make money. That could be as simple as emptying your bank account or selling on your details to other criminals who might use them to do that.

One of the other purposes of malware is to spread to other devices because the wider its reach, the more money criminals can make.

Again, there are many ways that malware can spread: it can be in apps you download, or it could be in a file attached to an email. Criminals also use  a technique called phishing. This isn’t malware: it’s an attempt to trick you into handing over confidential data by sending links via social media or in emails which take you to fake websites where you might be fooled into thinking it was the genuine article and typing in your login or even payment details.

Obviously, you should do everything you can to protect yourself from malware and modern antivirus software will do just that by scanning downloaded files, email attachments and even detecting it before you download and preventing it from infiltrating your device in the first place.

Most people call it antivirus software, but it’s a lot more than that. The core antivirus protection is often complemented by a password manager and a VPN, both of which help to protect your identity and give you back your privacy online.

There’s usually web browser protection, too, which will warn you of dangerous or fraudulent websites such as Covid-19 scams as well as securing online payments.

What’s the best antivirus software?

There’s a lot of choice, so picking the best can seem like a daunting task. It’s a very good idea to look for a security suite that includes the features mentioned so far. But you’d probably be surprised to know what you can get all this for free.

That’s right: Avira Free Security costs nothing at all. You won’t be asked for your credit card details or email address and Avira doesn’t sell user data to third parties.

The suite includes antivirus protection, a password manager, VPN and tools for optimising and speeding up your devices (and it definitely won’t slow down your computer).

It guards against all types of threats, including ransomware and, thanks to the Safe Shopping web browser add-on, it will protect you from fake and infected websites as well as phishing attacks, which are scams designed to steal your personal information.

The VPN brings privacy online, preventing anyone from snooping on your activity when using the internet and keeping you and your data safe when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.

Avira’s password manager remembers all the logins for the online services you use so you can set a strong, unique password for every website. That’s much more secure than using the same password and email combination for everything.

Get Avira Free Security

Antivirus software is something you might associate only with Windows PCs and laptops, but Avira Free Security is available for Android phones and Macs too. So all your devices can be protected for free.

To find out more and download your free security, visit Avira’s website.