Antivirus has been falling out of vogue somewhat recently, largely due to articles that claim it doesn’t protect you. Some users mistakenly believe that the built-in capabilities of their operating systems and careful online behavior will protect them against digital threats.
Unfortunately, it’s not true.
Following best practices such as keeping your software and operating systems updated, not downloading suspicious files, and avoiding links from untrusted sources will go a long way in protecting you. However, it’s not enough when a brand-new malware comes along and blows right past your system’s defenses.
There are too many dangers out there to risk going online without proper protection. Antivirus is still absolutely necessary to protect you from unwanted and malicious intruders such as viruses, trojans, botnets, ransomware, and other types of malware.
Do you really need an antivirus?
Your antivirus keeps you safe by detecting an attack before it causes serious damage. Most modern antivirus solutions are equipped with advanced detection capabilities that go beyond filtering out commoditized threats.
The number of new malicious programs increases every day and it’s not just your PC or laptop that is at risk. Computers, smartphones, tablets, and even IoT-connected devices are all attractive targets for cyberattacks.
Any device that is connected to the internet is vulnerable to malicious software that can infect your system, delete and alter files, steal personal data, or use your computer’s resources. It only takes one attack to hijack your computer or steal your identity. If you use any Windows, MacOS, or Android devices, you need antivirus software.
Antivirus protects against more than just viruses
The cybersecurity landscape is really a Wild West. Countless new variations and types of malware are being discovered all the time.
One of the most important cybersecurity misconceptions is that antivirus can only protect against known viruses. Since the risk from known viruses is smaller than zero-day malware threats, some users believe they should hardly bother with installing the antivirus.
But antivirus technology is not static, but rather constantly evolves. The antivirus of today does more than protect against known threats.
Modern antivirus solutions have features that handle multiple attack avenues, like phishing, adware, spyware, ransomware, malware, and more.
Antivirus evolved to protect you from threats
For years, most antiviruses have worked by checking your files against an ever-updated database of virus signatures. But as the number and the sophistication of attacks grew, antivirus software has had to evolve.
To effectively protect your devices, antivirus solutions moved beyond checking for virus signatures to detecting unencountered threats. The use of new techniques such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and behavioral tracking has turned the antivirus into a formidable defender, capable of detecting and blocking more sophisticated attacks.
More things need protecting: Android, MacOS
As the use of mobile devices grows, there’s been a meteoric rise in malware targeting these devices. Mobile devices are lucrative targets since they often contain sensitive data like mobile wallets, banking apps, or medical records.
There has also been a rise in malware targeting MacOS computers. While Windows operating systems have been the major target due to their popularity, cybercriminals have begun targeting other systems.
Picking out the right antivirus
Not all antivirus software is equal. When evaluating an antivirus solution, its ability to detect and eliminate malware threats should be your primary consideration.
Beyond a good protection rating, the developer should have an impeccable reputation for defending against growing threats such as zero-day attacks and ransomware.
We all engage in risky behavior
Some users believe that they don’t need an antivirus as attacks can be avoided if they are “careful.” This isn’t true. If you own any device that connects to the Internet, then you need antivirus software. Attackers mask malicious links and files: shortened links in Twitter or Facebook, installed free software, email attachments—all of these and more put your devices at risk. In an age where cybercrime is a lucrative business, everyone is vulnerable.
Malware threats are everywhere. While it is impossible to avoid malware infections entirely, strong antivirus software will give you a fighting chance to stop those threats from causing serious damage. Moreover, there’s no good reason not to have it installed: modern antivirus programs do not slow down your device performance, are easily available, and are reasonably priced.