Nov 25th, 2020

By all accounts, this is shaping up to be a truly odd holiday season. Most of us won’t be able to see our loved ones or anyone beyond our designated “pod,” nor will we be able to celebrate in any other way besides sticking to our zoom sessions. It can be sad to think about, but the good news is that this may be the last time we will have to spend far from loved ones – the end of this pandemic is on the horizon.

However, till then, we will be spending plenty of time online, doing the majority of our shopping, working, and schmoozing. As such, now more than ever, security is profoundly important, and we need to protect our information from being stolen and keep our precious familial online zoom sessions from being hacked. Security software has always been important, but that importance has been taken to a different level this year, even becoming one of the best and most practical things you can give yourself and others. The following is a guide that will help you approach shopping season and ensure that you purchase the best software out there, according to your needs and everyone else’s.

The Burden of Free Programs

First off, let’s do a rundown of the most basic kinds of security software now available on the market. Arguably, the most famous programs we are all familiar with are the free, anti-malware software you can download online. These include Bitdefender, Avast, Abira, and so on. So many of these programs are readily available for PCs that it is easy to lose count of them. 

However, their efficacy is a bit malleable and ultimately depends on the computer system’s hardiness to withstand an attack. As anyone familiar with PCs knows, they are mighty machines but are vulnerable to all forms of hacking and cyber attacks, far more than their Apple counterparts, which is why investing in security software is so important.

Paid Software

This brings us to the paid programs that are lauded within the tech community and can help erase the precarity that comes with a run of the mill free downloadable software. These sites include major names such as McAfee Antivirus, Trend Micro, and so on. There are quite a few salient options available these days, which come with a lot of added value. For a comparative shopping experience, you can check out Antivirus, Password manager, and VPN Black Friday Deals first to ensure that you get a bit of research under your belt first when it comes to functionality and cost. It is especially helpful to get all your research done by Black Friday since you want your wallet to be prepared to make the right choice by then! In any case, be on the lookout for software that offers an all in one package. 

Don’t just go for malware protection – that’s a bit old hat these days. Invest in software that offers a firewall, an anti-spam filter, and other extras that will help safeguard you and your loved ones from identity theft. Also, if you have children, a child filter is especially helpful these days to prevent them from being vulnerable to violent content or being subjected to a lot of needless advertising online – which has recently become a significant problem given YouTube and the proliferation of child-friendly content that arrives with a ton of commercials. 

A child filter will usually include a browser toolbar that will alert parents whenever their child finds a site that hosts malware, so this is a definite plus. Furthermore, this software can help a great deal by including a file shredder so that sensitive documents can be decimated, never to fall into nefarious hands, while also coming with the requisite backup software so that you can hold onto said documents safely.

How to Purchase

Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to purchase the software for yourself and as gifts for others. Most security software programs can be purchased online by downloading or upgrading from a free trial you already have on your computer. If you want to buy it for someone else, then online gift certificates would be advisable. You can email them a link to the software directly after purchasing, depending on the options available to you by the company. The great thing is that purchasing the software means that it can be used on several devices throughout a household, making it a very practical present. 

They are also reasonably affordable: usually fifty to eighty dollars, the software also comes with a full year of service, including customer service. Afterward, some forms of software may entail paying a small annual fee to renew the service. When purchasing the software, be sure to find out what the concurrent fees would be. Most of these are also affordable, and you can pick up the tab for your presents if you like through the same online vendor – everyone will thank you for this act of generosity.

Understanding Add-ons

Even the best software program will be lacking in one vital area, so you would need to look into ensuring that you have your bases covered. For example, spam filters are pretty essential since it provides protection from unwanted messages filtering your email and all messaging programs. Anti-phishing toolbars is another feature that you will need, since it protects your browsers from phishing sites, especially if you’re using an older version of the browser that is just not up to date. Or, you would prefer to have extra protection. However, make sure that your browser is compatible with this software feature before purchasing since not all browsers are equal or can have the same level of protection.

Finally, we mentioned file shredders quickly earlier in this article. Still, it is important to reiterate their importance and that you would need to ensure that the software program you want to purchase will have you covered. A file shredder helps to remove all electronic traces of a file, causing it to disappear, thus shielding it from theft. Some documents leave you vulnerable since they allow others to access your data once they have your computer in their hands – whether you take your laptop in to be fixed or give your laptop to someone else to use. Anyone can easily recover some or all of your data, and so to eliminate this possibility altogether, file-shredding software can provide excellent protection. Look for a suite that also offers file shredders to get that extra veneer of safety.

A Few Considerations

Before purchasing, there are a few things you need to consider. First off, think of the computer you are trying to protect, especially if you are purchasing the software for yourself. It all boils down to your computer’s operating system and the extent to which it could be vulnerable to hackings. For one, don’t be complacent if you have a Mac. All operating systems will need some kind of protection, with varying degrees. A Windows firewall will help block malware and nefarious websites from stealing your data. Sometimes when it comes to a Mac, a version that can be downloaded for little to no cost will be sufficient, but it depends on how up to date the operating system is and the extent to which it communicates with a Windows PC in the network. 

Another factor to consider before buying is to check the amount of space or the kinds of resources the software requires before using it. If your computer is low on memory or chugs away at infuriatingly low speeds, then you might have quite a bit of trouble getting the program to work properly. If you have an older computer, try to find a version that could work for you, or make a few necessary upgrades to your operating system first. 

Small Businesses

If you are the owner of a small business or are hoping to purchase security software for a loved one who runs their enterprise, this is definitely the best gift to buy. Without the benefit of a sophisticated, full security program suite, it is easy to have consumer data fall prey to phishing scams and to have your financial accounts compromised. 

Given that most enterprise now occurs online, it would be prudent to safeguard all your files and invest in different kinds of encryption, anti-phishing, and anti-spam software. A hack or having any of your information compromised is the kiss of death, so it makes sense to take the time to research and find the best version for your computing systems.

Reports of online work meetings being hacked by hate groups or people going about stealing the identity of those who have suddenly found themselves having to do all their shopping online have only accelerated in the past few months. The thing is, these incidents will occur more often regardless of the current circumstances as thieves become more sophisticated. So, as part of your holiday shopping for 2020, stay ahead of the game and invest in the best security software available.

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