We rely on antivirus software to keep our computers safe from viruses and hackers that could sabotage our work, compromise our personal information and privacy, and cost us countless of dollars should the virus render our devices useless. But what about the antivirus software we choose to use? Do we have to worry about its legitimacy, or more specifically, its country of origin?
The answer is… it’s complicated. If you’re worried about installing antivirus software from countries like China and Russia, where some of the most popular and inexpensive (and free) antivirus software is made, there is reason to be concerned, but it’s highly unlikely that these programs will put your computer at risk of a virus.
The truth is, we really don’t have a foolproof way of knowing if antivirus software from any country is 100% safe. Over the years, however, antivirus companies in China and Russia have gotten into some hot water. The result is that now, many Americans are making it a point to know where their antivirus software is from, and some are choosing to use only those made in America.
Antivirus software from China
The most popular antiviruses from China include Kingsoft, Rising, Baidu, Qihoo 360 and Tencent. All of these are used across the globe, and most of them test very high for performance. The issue with using these antivirus platforms is that China is notorious for making fake products, so it can be hard to tell if you’re installing the real thing or not.
Additionally, in a 2015 AV-Test, Qihoo and Tencent were penalized for cheating. Now they aren’t able to take part in the AV-Test, which is often considered the gold standard for antivirus software and ranking.
Another problem is that some antivirus software from China is considered adware, advertising-supported software that generates ads that earn the antivirus revenue. Adware isn’t just annoying, it’s also very difficult to uninstall.
Russia and Kaspersky Labs
Russian antivirus software has also been called into question, specifically Kaspersky Labs, a multinational cybersecurity provider headquartered in Moscow. In 2015, Kaspersky came under suspicion for having ties to the Russian government, and in 2017, President Trump banned all U.S. government employees from installing software by Kaspersky on their computers.
The following year, it was discovered that Kaspersky used antivirus software to gain access to classified documents off a computer belonging to an N.S.A. developer. This incident certainly raises some concern as to whether Kaspersky antivirus software is safe for Americans to use on their devices, however, Kaspersky stands by their claim that they are a transparent company and no other security incidents have been reported in recent years.
Antivirus software made in the U.S.A.
If using an antivirus program from another country has you concerned, know that there are plenty of reputable, solid programs made here in the U.S.A. Norton, McAfee, PC Matic and Webroot are four antivirus software programs that are easy to install and offer excellent security. Below, we explain the “pros” of each.
Norton. Norton offers comprehensive antivirus and device security available in a variety of monthly plans depending on the level of security you need. Norton offers all customers 24/7 support, online threat protection and cloud backup for at least 2 GB.
McAfee. The award-winning antivirus program offers two years of total protection starting at around $35, making this a deal for those on a budget. They offer multifaced protection, promise fast device performance, encrypted storage and online support for all customers.
PC Matic. PC Matic ran into some challenges back in 2016 when its customers got infected its claim that their program was solid. They made some change and have come back swinging, offering some of the most extensive antivirus protection around. They offer an ad blocker with fake virus scam protection, automatic PC maintenance, patch management and driver updates.
Webroot. Webroot offers real-time anti-phishing blocks, a firewall and network connection monitor and advanced web-filtering. If you do a lot of searching on Wi-Fi, you may want to consider Webroot’s Wi-Fi security and virus protection package.
Free antivirus software
If you don’t want to spend money on an antivirus program, we recommend Microsoft’s Security Essentials or Fortinet’s FortiClient. Both are simple to install and offer basic protection, however, if you’re needing security for your business, consider investing in an antivirus program that offers customer support and additional layers of protection.