Antivirus Software: Do You Still Need it This 2020?Donna Marie Padua
The days of computers and laptops being viewed as a box where viruses breed are long gone. Computer makers are now pre-installing antivirus software in their new units where buyers need to buy a subscription to enjoy the full service. And this is how they make more money from their customers.
But buyers should instead look at the brighter side of this selling strategy. In this modern world, cyber threats are becoming scarier, and it’s no longer just viruses that we need to protect our computers from.
So do you really need an antivirus software this 2020?
The fact that we still refer to this type of software as “antivirus” is out of date. No longer do we have to be worried only about nasty viruses infecting our computers and wiping out our personal data. Malware is perhaps more common today, with a different tactic to achieve a still-nefarious goal.
Microsoft takes your security and safety in this permanently-online world very seriously, and it built some essential tools into Windows 10 to keep you safe. And, because it’s integrated into the OS, it doesn’t hog any additional resources. Microsoft also updates it frequently with new data definitions, all the while looking to keep the latest threats at bay.
If for any reason, something breaks through and you can’t get rid of it, there’s a beefed-up version called Windows Defender Offline. You can run this while not connected to the internet from a USB drive, and it should find those harder-to-kill viruses.
Windows Defender is still considered in many corners to be little more than a baseline, though. Whatever your own opinion, it’s still a useful tool, and there’s no reason not to use it. It’s also good to use alongside other security software like the top-rated Norton, McAfee, AVG, Avira, and Kaspersky.
You might think that you’re careful when you’re online, visiting reputable sites and downloading from official sources like the Windows Store, or iTunes. But here’s the thing: You’re never truly careful if you’re going online completely unprotected.
Would you ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Even if you’re careful, there’s potential for disaster.
The people coding viruses and malware know precisely how to get it out to the broader world. That’s why it still exists.
Importance of Antivirus Software this 2020
Earlier, we asked if you need to use antivirus today. The answer was yes, and no. The no refers to the fact that you don’t have to go and find antivirus software anymore. If you’re using Windows 10, and everything is up to date, you already have a reliable, free tool built in that won’t hog your system resources and will keep an eye on things in the background.
And if you’re using nothing at all, immediately enable Windows Defender.
Sadly, you do still need antivirus software in 2020. It’s not necessary to stop viruses anymore, but there are all kinds of miscreants out there who want nothing more than to steal and cause mayhem by getting inside your PC. It sounds scary, but because much of our lives are now conducted online, the threat is as real as ever.
Which route you take and which software you use is ultimately your decision. But don’t think it won’t happen to you. That’s precisely when it will.
Antivirus May Not Be Enough
However, you shouldn’t settle with just an antivirus.
Malicious software and viruses are as prevalent as ever, and that’s why having antivirus software is as crucial as ever. But the “threat landscape,” as security experts like to call it, is changing. And that means your approach to protecting your identity and your data should also evolve. Antivirus alone may not be enough.
As we mentioned earlier, malware is more common now, and this threat comes in different forms. There’s the dreaded ransomware, then the spyware that most hackers use to see what you do online; the adware that’s so annoying, you couldn’t work correctly online at times, and so on.
Every year, malware keeps getting scarier and scarier. New types are getting harder to beat. So you’ll need a special program to eliminate the effects of malware on your computer. Ransomware is even harder to defeat since it encrypts files and threatens to post sensitive data online when the ransom asked won’t be paid on time. And there are more risks out there that simple antivirus software can’t protect you from.
A dozen or so years ago, your computer might’ve been your sole source of cyber risk. As a result, antivirus software was a solid solution to help protect yourself. Now, cybercriminals are going after you in other ways. For instance:
- Viruses and other kinds of malicious software — or malware — are more advanced. Crooks can use ransomware to lock your computer or encrypt your files. They can also commandeer your devices to mine for digital coins, an attack known as cryptojacking.
- There are now more internet-connected devices than ever before, and criminals have taken note. They’ve designed malware that can attack not only your PC or Mac®, but also your smartphone, tablet, home router, and items you may not even consider at risks, such as a smart thermostat, gaming console, and baby monitor. In some cases, criminals have harnessed all kinds of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices to use their combined processing power to stage cyberattacks. There was a 600 percent increase in IoT attacks from 2016 to 2017.
- As you use your mobile devices outside the home, taking advantage of public Wi-Fi networks, cybercriminals can be on those same networks. After all, public Wi-Fi passwords aren’t difficult to come by. And with the right tools, criminals can monitor what you’re doing online, including the forms you’re filling out, and steal your personal information. With that information, they can steal your identity.
- Identity theft can also occur as a result of the many data breaches you see in the news — the number of which is on the rise. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data breaches in 2017 reached a record high of 1,579, an upturn of 44 percent over 2016.
If cybercriminals put their hands on personal identifying data, they can use it to open new credit accounts, file for a tax refund, and even obtain medical care — all in your name. Personal identifying data includes your full name, address, Social Security number, and other kinds of information. As an identity theft victim, it’s up to you to clean up the mess left behind, one that could affect your credit history, your finances, and more.
Aspects of Your Online Life You Should Protect With Antivirus
Computers, be they PCs or Macs.
Antivirus software is still an essential means of protection. Viruses and malware threats have evolved and increased in number. For example, ransomware infections have increased year-over-year since 2013, and reached an all-time high of 1,271 detections per day in 2016, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report.
Make sure you have security software installed on all of your computers and keep it updated, so you’ll have protection against the latest known threats. One option you may want to consider is Norton Security, which provides real-time protection against existing and emerging malware, including ransomware and viruses.
Mobile devices, both smartphones, and tablets
Security software can also protect devices other than computers. Since malware and other threats also target smartphones and tablets, it makes sense to install protection on all of your mobile devices.
Public Wi-Fi connections
If you pay bills, shop, check email, or otherwise share information while on public Wi-Fi networks, you need to be careful. Cybercriminals may be watching your actions and can steal your personal information. You may want to save such activity until you’re back at home. But if it can’t wait, make sure you’re using a virtual private network — or VPN. A VPN encrypts the data you send and receive while on public Wi-Fi or even at home.
Given how connected most of us are to the internet — through our computers, smartphones, and online accounts — it makes sense that the information that makes up our identities is also connected. Think about how much of your data is “out there,” no longer under your control.
In the event of a data breach involving a company with which you do business, information such as your full name and Social Security number can quickly make its way into the hands of identity thieves. They can then use it to gain access to your financial accounts, hurt your credit history, and more.
Your home Wi-Fi network and connected devices
The ability to adjust your home’s thermostat from your phone or see who’s at the front door on your tablet are just two of the many benefits of having a smart home. Such conveniences will only increase as more connected devices become available. But that connectivity — if not secure — can be risky. It can give hackers more opportunities to access your Wi-Fi network and the information you may share on it.
The cyber realm is filled with dangers that are hard to predict. Attacks can happen at any time of the day and in any manner. It’s vital to have an antivirus to protect our devices and our data from malicious attempts. But as we said, the antivirus may no longer be enough to keep us safe. There is software out there that you can use where antivirus protection and anti-malware features are combined in one package. The leading security brands like AVG, Symantec, Avast, F-Secure, Kaspersky, and McAfee all have Total antivirus software that is complete with the basic and advanced online protection you need. Check them out today to see the best program that will suit your daily online activities.