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Hackers are a constant threat to anyone connected to the internet. A Clark School study at the University of Maryland revealed that hackers attack computers every 39 seconds. They use automated scripts to gain access to systems exploiting vulnerabilities such as weak credentials, lax security protocols, and bugs in operating systems and applications. Once they have control, they are able to invade the users’ privacy by stealing information or fully take over systems.
Computer users must take all necessary precautions to avoid having their privacy compromised. Measures typically include having running antivirus solutions to detect and remove malicious programs that hackers may use to gain access. However, security solutions have varying approaches to protecting user privacy. Many of them even fail to secure three areas that could potentially expose user privacy – computing peripherals, online activities, and data transmission.
Fortunately, some software does. Here are three antivirus solutions, Reason Cybersecurity, Panda Security, and EmsiSoft– whose key features cover these areas.
1. Reason Cybersecurity
Remote access tools allow hackers to control peripherals such as web cameras and microphones. Once they take over these devices, they can then watch or listen in on users’ private moments and conversations. This has given rise to sextortion as a cyberattack method where hackers threaten to leak compromising pictures and videos of victims for ransom. Recent incidences of camera hacking have also raised concerns about the possible use of such methods to aid the commission of physical crimes like kidnapping and home invasions.
If you’re worried about hackers spying on your private moments, then Reason may be the antivirus for you. Reason provides protection against camera and microphone hacking. It can limit usage of these devices to known applications or notify you and ask for permission if an application is attempting to access them. You can also set it to block or allow all device access.
Everything else considered camera and microphone protection is just a huge bonus. Aside from protecting your peripherals, Reason also features essential antivirus functionalities such as real-time protection, manual and scheduled scanning, and virus database updates.
It also has an unwanted software blocker that bars installers and adware from sneaking in pesky extensions and toolbars into your system. To further protect privacy, it also has tracking protection and a security extension that protects you while browsing the web.
All of these functionalities are available with the Premium edition available at $29.99 a year. Discounts on multiyear subscriptions are also available. There’s also a free Essential edition that only includes real-time protection, scanning, and threat removal.
Most of the people’s digital activities today are online. Hackers look to trick users into giving up private information or intercept data while connected to the internet. As such, more antiviruses are now training their sights on securing online activities.
Panda Security, for example, has added browsing and privacy protection alongside basic antivirus features such as real-time protection and threat scanning and removal. Its browser extension blocks known phishing websites and warns you of potentially malicious links for you to avoid. It also has a password manager to help you keep track of complicated passwords.
Depending on the subscription tier, you can also gain access to features such as ransomware protection, parental controls, file vault, remote data deletion, and a virtual private network.
Its Essential version, which includes the antivirus and personal firewall, is priced at $4.99 a month with discounts for a yearly subscription. The most complete Premium tier is available at a monthly rate of $13.99. It also offers a Free antivirus-only version.
Despite claiming to protect privacy, most of the popular antivirus software actually gather data from users’ machines and transmit them to their own servers.
As for-profit organizations, some of these solutions providers capitalize on the data they collect. Prior to the emergence of data protection rules like the GDPR, some even sell the data to third-parties. Others are even allegedly involved in state-sponsored espionage. Kaspersky, for example, has been banned from use in U.S. government machines due to its alleged ties with Russian actors.
EmsiSoft presents itself as an alternative by taking care to transmit as few customer details as possible. It doesn’t transmit identifiable information such as internal IP addresses and other machine and personal data.
The Home edition, which is targeted for ordinary consumers, retails at $19.99 a year. It covers essential real-time protection and threat scanning and removal features. There is also a Free edition that lacks real-time protection.
Cyberattacks are now a sad part of computing and users have little choice but to cope. Threats to privacy aren’t something to underestimate or ignore. Personal and financial information that is stolen from compromised computers can be sold to identity thieves and fraudsters or be used to threaten users themselves. No one would want to deal with identity theft, fraud, or extortion.
Security solutions should provide the necessary protection to prevent such malicious acts. However, only a handful of available solutions have been focused on privacy and trust so far. Hopefully, the space moves towards a direction where providers offer better features and mechanisms to safeguard users’ privacy.
In the meantime, users should be mindful of which solutions they implement and prefer those that cover their privacy protection requirements.