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Consumer Reports finds you can get solid protection against cybercriminals for free

Testers evaluate more than 30 antivirus programs

To help keep your personal information safe, Consumer Reports tested antivirus software and found you can get solid protection for free.

You protect your property from thieves by doing things like locking your car and your front door, but if you are not doing anything to keep cybercriminals from getting into your computers, Consumer Reports says you need to start now.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Report shows the agency received nearly 800,000 reports of cybercrime in 2020 -- up 69% from 2019 – so protection is needed.

With so many options available for antivirus software, it can be hard to tell which one would offer you the best protection, so Consumer Reports put more than 30 antivirus programs through a battery of tests exposing computers running both Windows 10 and macOS to malware, malicious websites, and phishing attempts.

“For the first time we also gave each of the programs a data-privacy score. It’s based on how the company says it collects, shares and uses your data,” said Consumer Reports Tech Editor Bree Fowler.

Here’s the great news: Consumer Reports found you don’t have to pay anything to get solid antivirus protection that also protects your personal information.

Consumer Reports says Kaspersky Security Cloud Free and AVG Antivirus for Mac both provide very good defense against threats. And yes, Macs need antivirus software, too!

“They’re both free and they both scored excellent for advertising- which means you won’t be bombarded with ads to upgrade your service,” said Fowler.

However, Consumer Reports says paid programs do offer some extra benefits. For example, the top-rated F-Secure SAFE, which offers a parental filter, banking protection, and anti-ransomware and spyware technology.

If you do opt to pay for software, the experts at Consumer Reports caution -- a higher price tag doesn’t mean better protection.

Consumer Reports also says to make sure you’re downloading any antivirus software from a trusted site instead of clicking on an ad promising free antivirus protection. It’s best to go straight to the source and manually type in the web address for the product you choose.