My work relies on digital security. Therefore, I make sure that I always have an antivirus on all my devices. Most of my laptops came with a free subscription. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. In the past, I have always relied on free antivirus software rather than paying for the upgrade. However, things are a little different now since I am running a business. Now that I am getting pop-up reminders to renew, I’m wondering if it’s worth paying for digital security. Are the free options enough, or do I need more to protect myself and my business?
What Do You Get With Basic Digital Security Options?
Over the years, I’ve had dozens of computers and used several antivirus programs. Since most of my PCs use Windows operating system, they usually came with a free trial for Avast, Norton, or McAfee antivirus software. However, once the trial ended, I would switch to the free version.
I currently own two laptops that I use for work and when I travel. My older laptop has the free Avast antivirus while the other uses TOTALAV. They both run regular scans and have kept my computers at optimal performance. However, I seem to receive more security threat warnings lately. So, I wasn’t sure if I should pay for one of their upgraded packages.
In order to protect my clients and information, I wanted to know if it was worth the cost of the extra precautions. After looking at the online reviews of the most popular antivirus programs, it seemed like Avast is one of the best free options out there.
Not only is Avast Essential One free to download, but it also has excellent scores from labs and hands-on testing. And, it’s compatible with PC and mobile devices that use Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. Furthermore, it offers many privacy and performance features with the free option in addition to generous VPN bandwidth limits. However, it’s missing many advanced firewall features. If you want access to the advanced features, it requires an upgrade with a paid annual subscription.
How Much Do You Gain by Paying for Digital Security?
Now that I am conducting business and dealing with client information, I’ve decided it’s time to make a change. Therefore, I want to increase my protection by paying for digital security. But which one do you choose?
While I could have upgraded with Avast, a side-by-side comparison of subscription plans convinced me otherwise. The upgraded options provide sufficient protection. But, there are much better antivirus software that offer more value for your money.
Industry experts across the board have touted the merits of Bitdefender. After further review, I can see why. It outscored the competitions in all the areas that matter. And, it adds enhanced ransomware protection, banking protection, and a VPN as well as other bonus features.
Best of all, they are currently offering a 60% discount on all their products. The basic protection gives you antivirus protection for Windows PC on up to three devices states at $23.99 for a year. However, complete protection will cost you a little more. For $36 for the year though, you can extend your subscription to five devices and it’s compatible with Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to pay if you want their VPN Premium package.
What Other Measures Can You Take for Cyber Security?
Adding antivirus software to your computer will protect you from malware and other threats. Unfortunately, paying for digital security won’t solve all your problems. While it takes many measures to protect your online presence and information, you can do more to enhance your cyber security (infrastructure, networks, systems, digital components, etc.) And, most of them don’t cost a dime.
As cybercrime becomes more commonplace, here are a few things you can do for added cyber security.
1. Choose strong passwords and change them regularly.
Although it’s easier to use the same password for everything, it isn’t great for security purposes. Therefore, you should choose a unique password that uses combinations of characters, casing, and symbols. It’s also important to change them regularly. I usually change mine every 3-6 months. If it’s hard for you to keep track of them all, you can also store them in a password manager to keep them safe and organized.
2. Use two-factor authentication.
Adding this feature for banking, email, social media, and other accounts that require a log-in will deter most cybercriminals. Having the extra step that sends passcodes, asks security questions, or requires a key adds an extra layer of security.
3. Avoid using public wi-fi networks.
Although this seems like common sense, it’s better to avoid public wi-fi. You have less exposure to hackers when you use a VPN.
4. Be aware of potential risks.
Awareness of your browsing habits and potential threats is the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Learn about phishing practices and popular scams so you know what not to do.
5. Schedule regular scans and updates.
Outdated software leaves you vulnerable. So, automatically schedule scans and updates to stay protected.
6. Encrypt storage on your devices.
If you need to keep sensitive data private, adding encryption will ensure others can’t view or copy it if it’s stolen.
7. Don’t share your information.
Although it seems obvious, people become careless online. Don’t share personal information, because you never know who is paying attention and how they could use it.
8. Enable security monitoring through your credit cards and bank accounts.
Most credit card companies and banks offer fraud protection. For a small fee, they will monitor your accounts and notify you of any suspicious activity.
9. Find a practical balance.
Security is important, but so is convenience. Adding too many security measures could be counterproductive. So, you need to figure out what is most important and necessary for you.
10. Have a plan.
With so much information online, it’s more than likely that your information will be compromised at some point. The best thing you can do is limit your risk and be prepared. Have a plan and know what you have to do if you face a cyber security threat.
Have you ever been a victim of cybercrime? What digital protection has served you best?
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.