Malware is an ever increasing threat in today’s internet. While many believe that they are not a target or that they are safe from malware, that may not be the case. Even the ever reliable mac has fallen prey to attackers more and more frequently. So the question today is not if you will be exposed, but when. Attacks can come from many unexpected angles, and from seemingly innocent sources. One of the last lines of defense, and one of the most important is your Antivirus suit. But with so many options out there, choosing the right software for your needs can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, these programs are tested every year and given ratings based on detection rates and false positives. The recommendations made here are based on the numbers for these tests, any linked received a detection rate of 99.5% or better with 5 or less false positives in a real world detection test. Many of these have a free version available as well as a more comprehensive subscription based service. Linked below is the chart put out by AV Comparatives. The antivirus programs will be listed with a link to their website.
A warning about Microsoft Security Essentials, the one that gets shipped with Windows. This program does not have a high detection rate relative to the ones above, ~88%. While this is a high number that means in an everyday situation 3 in every 25 pieces of malware will get through. As such, disabling it and using a different software to meet your needs is a better choice.
It is recommended to run the program Malwarebytes on top of any antivirus suit as well. This is a lightweight program that does an excellent job. Their free version is more than sufficient if running with an antivirus suit.