For many people, antivirus software is a thing of the past – a relic from the dial-up era where Norton and McAfee controlled 90% of the market. Furthermore, the incredible rise of virus-resistant Mac computers and devices in the ‘00s and ‘10s dictated a further drop in antivirus software adoption and usage.
Ironically, despite the average person’s disinterest in antivirus software, the cost of viral attacks is greater than ever. As of 2021, the cost of cyberattacks has reached over $5 billion, which is only projected to climb as our world becomes more digitized by the day.
With the impacts of viral attacks only growing in significance and frequency, having a robust antivirus is critical – for both your business and your own personal protection. Here are some of the antivirus systems that are most trusted by industry professionals.
Note: We do not receive any compensation for the antivirus programs listed in this article. We have no connection to any of these companies in any way.
In addition, these recommendations are aimed at Microsoft users – the operating system of choice for 80% of businesses.
The Best Antivirus Services in 2023
- Overview: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a highly respected, extremely robust antivirus service. The big positive to Bitdefender is its fully 360° nature. It’s a comprehensive security suite designed to offer holistic, bulletproof protection against various cyber threats.
- Ransomware Protection: Provides a dedicated defense mechanism against ransomware attacks – a type of viral attack that can be extremely difficult to detect.
- Hardened Browser: Bitdefender has its own “hardened browser” that ensures safe online financial transactions, protecting against phishing and malicious websites. It basically makes sure you’re not getting faked out by duplicitous websites.
- VPN Protection: A VPN is a must in 2023, and Bitdefender has it. A VPN protects your location data by “scrambling” your location – giving false information to would-be online ne’er-do-wells.
- Ad Tracker Blocker: Nobody wants to be tracked. Ad tracking blockers prevent advertisers from tracking your online activities, enhancing privacy.
- Security Patch Detector: Identifies and alerts users about missing security patches in their software, ensuring up-to-date protection.
- Pros: Comprehensive protection, autopilot feature for 24/7 background protection, user-friendly interface.
- Cons: Might be resource-intensive for older devices, a higher price point compared to basic antivirus solutions.
- Price: Varies, but typically around $30/year for one device.
- Overview: One of the original antivirus pioneers, McAfee is still going strong as a comprehensive antivirus platform that prides itself on broad protection across devices. McAfee Antivirus Total Protection – formerly known as Antivirus Plus – is McAfee’s top-of-the-line antivirus protection, built on its famous firewall-based architecture.
- Ransom Guard: Ransomguard is McAfee’s ransomware attack, as you might expect. They claim it operates as its own standalone layer of security – protecting your computer from malicious background tasks.
- Firewall: McAfee has always been known for its firewall, and even in 2023, it continues to perform at the highest level.
- Cryptojacking Defense: In what can only be described as insane, McAfee even has “cryptojacking defense” – a layer of security that protects your device from unauthorized cryptocurrency mining. Seriously!
- Pros: Multi-device support, established brand reputation, including personal firewall and cryptojacking.
- Cons: Some features are limited to specific platforms, and can be resource-intensive.
- Price: Varies, often around $60/year for multiple devices.
- Overview: Don’t have robust coding and computer skills? Ignore this package altogether. ESET’s NOD32 Antivirus is probably the most powerful of these antivirus programs, but it comes at the cost of usability. This is the antivirus for the extremely tech-savvy, giving users granular control over their antivirus.
- UEFI Scan: This goes a step beyond the standard boot sector scan, ensuring deeper protection even before the operating system starts.
- WMI Database Protection: Monitors the Windows Management Instrumentation database for any signs of intrusion, ensuring system integrity.
- Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS): Proactively detects and blocks attacks that exploit OS vulnerabilities, offering an added layer of protection.
- Pros: Advanced technical features, extremely customizable, very efficient in terms of resources, compatible with both Mac and Windows.
- Cons: Too complex for anyone without advanced computer and IT skills. The higher price point for advanced features.
- Price: Typically around $40/year for one device.
- Overview: The paid version of the most popular antivirus programs on the internet, Malwarebytes Premium is known for its rapid scans without compromising on protection levels. Their free version is also great for finding malware but doesn’t have nearly the robust variety of features as the paid version.
- Malware Expertise: People love Malwarebytes for its incredible ability to find specific, unique and new malware that other programs would struggle to find or define.
- Behavior-based Detection: Instead of just relying on virus definitions, it monitors software behavior to detect malicious activities, ensuring protection against zero-day threats.
- Ransomware Activity Detection: Like its behavior-based approach to viruses, Malware actively monitors for patterns consistent with ransomware activities. Once it’s identified patterns that appear as malware, it immediately takes preventive actions before the ransomware can encrypt your data.
- Pros: Fast performance, real-time protection, effective against zero-day threats.
- Cons: Limited features in the free version, might flag some legitimate programs.
- Price: $38/year for one device, $100/year for five devices.
- Overview: The big upside to Microsoft Defender is that you’re probably already using it. Yep – Microsoft Defender is integrated into Windows 10 and 11, offering Windows users real-time monitoring for various threats without the need for additional programs and licenses.
- Real-time Monitoring: Defender constantly checks files, applications, and websites for potential threats. This means you don’t have to run checks, and it’s constantly monitoring for anything.
- Cloud-delivered Protection: Uses the latest threat definitions from the cloud for up-to-date protection, ensuring that even the newest threats are detected.
- Tamper Protection: Prevents unauthorized changes to security settings, ensuring that your protection levels remain consistent.
- Pros: Built-in, regularly updated, real-time protection. Offers affordable plans for both individuals and businesses alike. Highly scalable for businesses. Best of all it integrates flawlessly into existing Microsoft systems.
- Cons: Resource-intensive, basic features, lacks advanced protection tools from other providers.
- Price: Free for Windows. Paid version available for corporate users.
- Overview: Norton 360 is focused on – you guessed it – 360° protection, aiming to create a broad wall against cyber threats and viruses.
- Cloud Backup: Provides backup storage to prevent data loss due to ransomware or disk failures, ensuring that your important files remain safe.
- Secure VPN: Encrypts your internet connection, ensuring privacy and security, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks.
- LifeLock Identity Theft Protection: Monitors for unauthorized use of your personal information and offers insurance coverage for identity theft-related expenses.
- Pros: Full suite of tools, supports up to 10 users, includes cloud backup.
- Cons: Limited features on MacOS and iOS, price increase after the first year.
- Price: $100 for the first year, $180 thereafter for 10 devices.
So What’s The Right Antivirus For Me?
If you’re a small business or a sole proprietor, you’re probably fine with a simple antivirus like Malwarebytes or Bitdefender. Even their free versions offer some robust security features – but don’t forget the massive risk you’re taking in leaving your system open.
If you’re a larger business (+10 employees), you definitely need an enterprise-level antivirus. In many cases, you may already have one in the form of something like Microsoft Defender.
At any rate, you’re going to have to do the same thing you do with every business decision – weigh the pros and cons of each and apply them to your unique situation. The main things to pay attention to when picking an antivirus are:
- The cost of the product
- The security needs your organization has
- The compatibility of the antivirus with your existing systems
- The usability of the antivirus software for the end user
Consider these things, but always always keep the end user in mind – as most cyberattacks are perpetrated via a human vector.