Today, computers are an essential part of life. In developed countries like Germany, most households are equipped with a computer, including access to the internet. No computer functions without software. Next to the system software (for example the operating system and device drivers) some application software is also considered to be very important. Computer experts agree that no computer with connection to the internet should operate without antivirus software.
Antivirus software consists of specialized programs which protect the computer against threats from the internet. The amount of malware online increases continuously. Malware can cause severe damage to the infected computer. In the past, malware was mostly used to cause problems with the infected computer. Increasingly however, internet criminals are using such programs to steal passwords or even the identity of a user in order to get access to his or her account or to buy goods in the user's name. Malware consists of viruses, worms, Trojan horses and others. A good antivirus program scans the computer all the time and gives a warning if malware is detected. The malware is put in quarantine or deleted. Some of the antivirus programs have to be purchased, others can be downloaded free of charge from the internet.
Before a user decides to install a certain antivirus program, he should spend some time and effort to investigate the matter. Not all free programs are bad compared to the ones which have to be purchased. A good guide and source of information about that topic are leading computer magazines, many of which have an online edition. They evaluate the antivirus software currently on the market in regular intervals. In many cases they permit users to download free programs from their sites. Alternately, in the paper edition, CDs with useful free programs included can be found, amongst them often antivirus software.