Is antivirus enough protection for your family?

David Strom 24 Nov 2021

Here's what to think about when considering an all-in-one suite

In a word, no. While having antivirus is a good foundation, you still need to build the rest of the structure to protect all of your family’s activities, especially if you have children and if you consume a variety of online resources such as games and social media. You have two basic paths towards building out your protection: choosing a variety of tools and then integrating yourself or using an all-in-one security suite (such as Avast One). The risks with the former, DIY method is that you might not cover all your bases or that your tools won’t play well together. 

If you are considering an all-in-one suite, here are some things to think about.

Does the software run on both desktop (MacOS and Windows) and mobile (Android and iOS) operating systems? If so, are the features at parity between all four operating systems? You need protection across all of your devices, and that means having four solid versions that are designed to deliver similar features. But this means you have to examine the fine print to determine which features don’t apply (or haven’t yet been implemented) on which particular OS.

Does the software work proactively or retroactively at protecting you from various threats? In other words, what happens when your computer or mobile device is compromised? Is the malware stopped before it can do any damage, or do you have to act after you have been notified to cleanse your system from all traces of the infection? Look for those products which have built-in firewalls to complement anti-virus/anti-malware features, and those that can detect and warn you when you are using untrusted network connections or accidentally browse phony websites that could be dangerous (such as copycat banking sites that are trying to phish your credentials).

Does the software protect your privacy under a variety of circumstances? Ideally, you want software that will keep your private information as private as possible. For example, does the software stop tracking devices such as cookies, ad tracking and browser fingerprinting? There should also be several features to protect your family when you shop and bank online, or when providing other sensitive information such as your birthdate or medical information or when you use an email address to identify yourself on various websites. Some products, such as Avast One, also detect when you are browsing a non-encrypted website (in other words, not using the HTTPS protocol) and offer to switch you to an encrypted connection to prevent any personal data from being intercepted.

Do you already use a VPN? If so, what are the specifics about its protection? If you don’t already make use of one, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are useful for a variety of reasons: they can protect your online browsing when you share a connection to a public Wi-Fi network, keep your actual location private as well as add additional protection so all of your online activities can’t be so easily compromised or tampered with. VPNs can also allow you access to the same content on your streaming media subscriptions when you travel. Some VPN products place a limit on data usage. 

Does your software monitor data breaches and compromised passwords? This feature is useful to alert you to any new data breaches that might have included one of your accounts that might have leaked this information, so you can update your password with something stronger to protect your online accounts.

Finally, what can you get for free, and what costs extra? Many vendors offer “trialware” that only works for a limited time or has crippled features. Some charge extra for specific features for example, the free plan for Avast One limits you to 5GB per week for one location. The paid plan expands this to allowing you to choose more than 50 locations in 30 different countries and allows for unlimited data usage.

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