Installing a good antivirus or Internet security program should be your first step. However, not all are created equal. While no single antivirus product can protect against all of the millions of malware variants, some packages detect (and successfully remove) more threats than others do. For strong PC security, choose one of the top performers from our 2012 antivirus product-line reviews, such as Bitdefender Internet Security, Norton Internet Security, or G Data Internet Security. And in the future, be sure to check back for our more up-to-date reviews.
Although an antivirus package is your primary weapon for fighting malware, you might wish to add other tools to your arsenal for extra security.
OpenDNS provides content filtering that blocks many malware-infested sites and phishing scams. You can enable this online service on select computers, or on your router to protect all connected devices. The free OpenDNS FamilyShield automatically blocks malware, phishing sites, adult content, and proxy sites that try to bypass the filtering, and it requires only a simple setting change on your PCs or router. The OpenDNS Home and Premium DNS offerings filter malware and phishing sites, and let you make a free or paid account to customize the filtering and other features.
The freeware utility Sandboxie lets you run your Web browseror any other applicationin a safe mode of sorts to protect against damage from downloaded viruses or suspicious programs that turn out to be malware. It does so by running the browser or selected program in a virtual environment (also known as a sandbox) that isolates the program from the rest of your system. Some antivirus or Internet security packages come with a sandbox feature, but if yours doesnt (or if it doesnt allow you to run programs in the sandbox manually), consider using Sandboxie when youre browsing risky sites or downloading suspicious files.
Intended to complement the defenses you already have, Malwarebytes works alongside most regular antivirus programs. It may catch malware that your regular antivirus utility misses, or remove threats that your standard package cant. The free version does on-demand scans (you manually open the program and run a scan), whereas the paid version has real-time monitoring just as regular antivirus software does.
In addition to installing antimalware utilities, you can take other steps to help prevent attacks.