By Josh MacEwen
I think it is a waste of money for most people. Antivirus software is invasive and can introduce more entry points for attacks. Regardless of the developer, injecting antivirus into the operating system creates new vulnerabilities. The problem is that people need to protect themselves and their data from things such as ransomware. Once January 2020 hits, even more people will be exposed.
Support for Windows 7 is ending, which means Microsoft will stop releasing security updates. It is essential that PC owners upgrade to Windows 10 to remain protected. My advice is to do this by February. After that, it is unlikely Microsoft will release another free upgrade to Windows 10. Trojans and ransomware are becoming more rampant. It is critical to keep our devices secure. Thankfully, Windows 10 comes with a comprehensive security package called Windows Defender. Believe it or not, it outperforms third-party antivirus software in most metrics. Its biggest flaw is that it detects viruses when they do not exist. In my opinion, the benefits outweigh this. Integrating antivirus protection into the operating system reduces the number of attacks points when compared to third-party software. Defender alone is worth the upgrade from Windows 7, especially for businesses.
Even Mac OS is becoming more vulnerable. Macs do get viruses. Enough people use Mac OS that it has motivated some to develop exploits for it. As a result, Apple is starting to lock down the Mac, similar to iOS devices. In the next OS update, Apple is adding in new protections that make it challenging to use applications from outside the Mac App Store. Though this can be inconvenient, this behaviour is not out of character for Apple. They have put a lot of work into making their brand synonymous with security and privacy. For most users, this is positive.
For most of us, mobile devices contain our most sensitive data. Phones store our payment information, photos, texts, and e-mails. Thankfully, we are protected here. As mentioned previously, Apple prioritizes privacy and security. They lock down iOS, so it is challenging for unverified third-party software to get onto your phone, including viruses. Android has a more spotty track record, but I don’t consider it unsafe. I have Android phones, and I don’t use antivirus software. I’ve been fine. As long as you are not bypassing the Google Play Store to get apps, and have a phone getting regular security updates, you should be fine. That being said, I set family members up with Apple. It is considered the safer operating system. Regardless, even though mobile devices contain our most sensitive data, antivirus software is not required.
Honestly, the ways you are most likely to be harmed will not prevented by antivirus software. Your account could get hacked. You could fall for a phishing scam triggering ransomware. Protecting yourself is not as simple as sweeping your computer for viruses. You need to update your system, drivers, and applications. Back up your files properly and regularly. Get a password manager, I suggest LastPass. Also, use multiple methods of account authentication, like a YubiKey. Definitely don’t use text messages. All in all, protecting your data doesn’t need to cost you money. If you are going to allocate money towards augmenting your digital safety, I recommend you don’t spend it on antivirus software.
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