More About Antivirus – Just Because I Care

Dear Grandma…

The last time I wrote to you about what Canadians know about Internet security.  I also gave you some quick tips on how to protect yourself online. Today I want to translate some of that terminology or “techno-babble” for you so it’s easier to remember. (Yes, techno-babble is a real term, I didn’t make it up).  So here is the antivirus tip from my last note, but with a little more explanation. (By the way, I may call it antivirus or antimalware but for this note they’re basically the same thing).

Install antivirus (or antimalware) software on your home computer.

There’s antivirus that comes built-into Windows 10 called Windows Defender, but don’t rely on it. While Defender is convenient, it’s the worst possible option because it offers the least protection.

Here’s what you should do…

  • If you (or anyone else in the family) don’t want to pay for an antivirus program for home, a free program is better than nothing. PC-Magazine, a publication I trust, reviewed several free antimalware programs in November 2018 and nominated the following ones as their best choices:  
  • If you don’t mind paying for an antivirus program (typically around $20-$60 CAD) then here are some of the best ones today, as rated by TechRadar  (another publication I trust):
  • If you or others in the family decide to buy a Mac computer this year, then you need antimalware for that too.  The number of different malware programs that attack Apple Mac computers rose 270% this year.  According to
  • If downloading stuff like this from the Internet seems like a bother, then just go to the store and buy it in a box. Stores like Best Buy, Staples, Walmart, and so on, all sell antivirus or antimalware software. Some of them, like Best Buy, even have services (Best Buy Geek Squad) that will install it for you if you bring in your laptop or PC.

If you buy the antimalware software, get an annual subscription license.

If your software is not kept up to date, it gets stale. It just won’t be able to keep your computer protected against the latest threats. Choosing a renewable annual subscription right when you buy the software means it will maintain itself for the most part. It also means less work for you later. When the software gets too old, it will simply update itself and you won’t have to pay additional fees each time. 

Here’s what you should do…

  • Get a renewable annual subscription.  When you go to download your antimalware, the seller’s website will ask if you want the subscription. Agree to the subscription. You will need to give your credit card number to pay for the software, and the system will remember your credit card. In a year, when it’s time to renew this license, the vendor will email you to remind you and then automatically renew your subscription for another year. Meantime, your antimalware program keeps itself current. Now if you’re not comfortable doing that or paying online with your credit card, its best just to go to the store and ask for their help.
  • Don’t respond to unexpected emails or website messages offering to install antivirus software on your computer.  If you ever get an unexpected email or a warning on screen that your computer is infected with a virus and offers to download a new antivirus tool you never heard of– DON’T DO IT!  That’s a scam – it’s just trying to scare you into infecting your own computer with malware or paying for something you don’t need. If you followed my instructions above and already installed your own antimalware through a store or from an official website, then you already have plenty of protection.  So delete that unexpected email or close the website that told you that you needed antivirus.

I’ll write more about the other tips (strong passwords, password keepers, and fingerprint ID) next time.  Gotta run!


Cool Grandma Tips

If you want to protect several devices in your home (computers, tablets or phones) all at once, then instead of just antimalware consider an “Antimalware Suite” or “Internet Suite”.  These suites typically cost around $40-$100 CAD but cover several devices (usually 5) for the one fee.  They include the same antimalware protection plus additional advanced features to protect all your devices. Considering how many devices they protect and how many people have a phone, tablet and multiple family computers at home, that’s a pretty good deal.  Here are the top 2 overall security suites as rated by TechRadar for on December 1st 2018:

Internet security suites are a little tougher to find for Macs but according to Macworld, the best security suite for Macs is Intego Mac Internet Security X9,  which is typically over $65 but also discounted now.

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