Sure, you can use the power of thoughts and prayers to keep your devices and network safe — but (like gun violence) it’s almost guaranteed that won’t be enough. More than 350,000 new malware variants are released onto the web every day, creating an ocean of hundreds of millions of malicious programs striving to install themselves on your devices. Worse, malware isn’t the only threat out there; you could fall victim to phishing or pharming attacks or be infiltrated through outdated software or weak passwords. In truth, the only way to stay safe and remain connected to the internet is to equip yourself with impenetrable cyber defenses — but what kind of defenses are enough?
Most cybersecurity companies offer a range of security products to keep you safe, but their security packages tend to be tiered. While the low-cost options might be tempting, will they do anything to protect your devices and network? Different security providers have different names for each tier of cybersecurity services; read on to find out which tier is right for your needs.
Cheapest Option: Antivirus
The lowest tier and cheapest option available is a basic antivirus software. This tool is an undeniably essential element of successful cybersecurity; antivirus programs thwart malicious downloads in a number of ways. All antivirus tools will scan your device for malicious code, quarantine that code and remove it before it can do any significant harm. Usually, antivirus from well-respected cybersecurity brands, like Trend Micro or Kaspersky, also include features in this tier that scan links and downloads for dangerous code even before you click. Thus, you can identify and avoid risky areas of the web even with this bare minimum cybersecurity protection.
Though this is the least expensive option, it isn’t ineffectual. On the contrary, antivirus software could be the most powerful weapon in a home cybersecurity arsenal, especially if the antivirus program you choose is state-of-the-art. Older antivirus options tend to be signature-based, meaning they compared all code on your device with known signatures of various malware to detect issues. More cutting-edge antivirus uses heuristics or (even better) machine learning to anticipate what malicious code could look like and continue to thwart it into the future. Even if you are purchasing the lowest cybersecurity package, you shouldn’t be afraid of asking questions about how the software works.
Middle Tier: More Security
Often with names like “internet security,” the middle tier of cybersecurity includes antivirus software as well as a few other bells and whistles designed to keep you even safer online. Again, the exact features will vary from service to service, but generally you can expect to acquire some additional protections against web-based threats.
For instance, it’s not uncommon for an internet security tool to include a virtual keyboard, which you can use to navigate the web or input login credentials without worrying about keyloggers tracking your movies. Additionally, in the middle tier you will likely gain access to some parental controls, which is important if you have kids beginning to explore the web. Finally, you might be able to find a middle-of-the-road option that includes banking safety and privacy tools, which protect your identity when you shop online or use online banking services. All of these services are useful — but if you are looking for more comprehensive cybersecurity than mere antivirus, you might as well invest in the best protection available.
Cream of the Crop: Max Security
Instead of picking and choosing some cybersecurity defenses, you would do well to equip yourself with all of them — and that means springing for the highest tier of security software available. Maximum security for home users includes a full suite of tools designed to keep you as safe as possible by identifying, eliminating and blocking threats in a variety of ways.
You should expect the third and highest tier of cybersecurity to include everything that comes before it, such as antivirus, banking safety, virtual keyboards and the like. However, you should also expect max security to include a bit more to keep you safe. One such additional feature might be a password manager, to create and store any passwords you create for programs and websites. Good cyber hygiene dictates that you should have a unique password for each login, and password managers will help you develop a strong password and remember the code, so you don’t have to. You should also have access to a number of firewall features and a greater variety of parental controls, so you can determine exactly what you and your family members see online.
More and more, the internet is becoming a dangerous place. Fortunately, when you equip yourself with the right cybersecurity tools, you should be able to explore the web in peace.