Viruses and spyware are different forms of malicious software and you need protection from both types of malware to keep your computer and mobile devices secure.

Some internet security suites offer protection from viruses and malware as well as spam, phishing attempts and content filtering; other software may simply protect against one or the other.

As more and more of us use smartphones and tablets to go online, it’s important to also protect these mobile devices against new forms of malware targeting ‘pocket computers’.

Many of the popular security companies now provide paid software packages that will help you protect multiple devices for just one payment.

Keep your virus definitions up to date

Malicious software is constantly being written and circulated online and you need to keep your security software current and the files it relies on to identify threats up to date.

If your paid subscription or free trial has expired then the software will no longer defend you against website and email threats.

If the software if always alerting you don’t ignore the messages or turn it off – it’s trying to protect your computer and save you from the hassle of cleaning up after an infection.

Won’t the software slow down my computer?

Many computer users worry that bulky anti-virus software will slow down their machine. In some cases this is true but the benefits outweigh any reduction in performance.

Malware will also slow down your computer and may prevent you from using it at all.

What’s the best anti-virus and anti-spyware software for me?

Many computer owners make use of popular free security tools. Free doesn’t necessarily mean the product isn’t as good as paid for but PC owners need to be aware of the complexities behind the software, as this article entitled Battle of the Security Superpowers in PC World magazine makes clear:

It’s no longer enough for antivirus software to scan files on your PC. You need someone looking over your shoulder and telling you whether it’s safe to click that link; whether the popup for that software update is legitimate; and whether that download from your favorite social network is actually a tool created by organized criminals for stealing your personal information. You need an all-in-one internet security suite capable of identifying, blocking, and cleaning up after a wide array of malware.

As a not for profit, NetSafe doesn’t recommend a particular product but we can point you in the direction of independent test results that regularly put anti-virus products through rigorous tests.

AV-TEST is an independent German organisation which publishes security ratings under the following categories:

How can I clean up an infection?

Taking proactive steps to prevent an infection is essential for improving your computer security. Read our advice on how to security check your computer and devices and shore up your defences against ransomware and other malware.

Anti-virus software is not infallible though so if you find your PC is showing signs of an infection and want a second opinion then the best software to scan your computer for free is Malwarebytes. This can find and clean the majority of nasty software which you might have downloaded whilst being online.