You can get solid protection against cyber threats for free, Consumer Reports finds

30 antivirus programs put to the test

SAN ANTONIO – Protecting your property from criminals is something most of us do, whether it’s locking your house, your car, or even your bike. But what about protecting the personal information on your computer from viruses and cybercriminals?

To help with that, Consumer Reports tested antivirus software and found you don’t have to pay much, if anything, to get solid protection.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Report makes it clear how important it is to protect your computer from intrusions. The FBI received nearly 800,000 reports of cybercrime last year, up 69% from the year before.

There are a lot of antivirus programs to choose from, so Consumer Reports put more than 30 through a battery of tests. They exposed computers running both Windows 10 and macOS to malware, malicious websites, and phishing attempts.

“For the first time, we also gave each of the programs a data privacy score. It’s based on how the company says it collects, shares, and uses your data,” said Bree Fowler, tech editor for Consumer Reports.

What they found is that you don’t have to pay to get solid antivirus protection that also protects your personal information.

Consumer Reports says Kaspersky Security Cloud Free and AVG Antivirus for Mac both provide a very good defense against threats.

“They’re both free and they both got a score of Excellent for advertising, which means you won’t be bombarded with ads to upgrade your service,” Fowler said.

Yet, Consumer Reports says paid programs do offer some extra benefits. The top-rated F-Secure SAFE offers a parental filter, banking protection, and anti-ransomware and spyware technology.

If you opt to pay for software, the experts at Consumer Reports caution that a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better protection.

Consumer Reports also says to make sure you’re downloading antivirus software from a trusted site instead of clicking on an ad promising free antivirus protection. It’s best to go straight to the source and manually type in the web address for the product you want.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.