Anirudh RegidiJul 08, 2016 14:30:53 IST
Do you really need an antivirus program in 2016? Yes. Yes you do. The short answer is that you need it because common sense isn’t that common. For the long answer, read on!
Any competent geek will tell you that they’ve never needed an antivirus program, that Windows Defender is enough. I’d say the same myself. But that’s the thing, we’re talking of competent geeks here. For better or worse, we know our systems inside-out.
It’s as if our internal clock has somehow synced up with the CPU clock. If something takes an extra half-second to open, we know something’s wrong, we automatically glance at the bottom left corner of the screen before clicking on a link. Phishing mails are brushed aside with the merest glance. We know how to secure our Wi-Fi, our passwords will put many an encryption key to shame and LastPass is our God.
In fact, that’s why we geeks hate it when other people touch our PCs. The “others” are introducing an unknown into the mix, something that we have no control over.
To us, an antivirus program is just an additional headache that takes away absolute control of our PC in the name of security that we know we don’t need.
To the average person however, this is too much hassle. The average person just wants a PC that works, a program that does its job and they want the freedom to do what they want on the PC without worrying about consequences. The average person will not know to scan a pen-drive after it’s done the rounds of the college/office/cyber-cafes, they will not know to check URLs before clicking on links and they don’t know what a real download button looks like.
These are people who’d just hit “I agree” and “Yes” to everything while installing a program. Worst of all, they’ll use the same password literally everywhere and then wonder why their accounts are compromised.
There are three primary sources of infection that can compromise your computer and its data:
- A link with malware
- An infected pen drive
- An infected installer
There are other sources as well, such as network infections and hacking, but they’re relatively less frequent and the source of those infections is usually one of the three listed sources anyway.
As it happens, sites with malware and sites used for phishing are usually flagged by your browser anyway. It’s not a 100 percent reliable and there are still seemingly reliable sites like download.com that will download crapware (junk programs, adware, and infected installers) to your PC. Email spam and phishing attacks are also filtered by a more reliable email provider like Gmail and Outlook.
An infected pen drive is a bigger threat, but if you’re running a modern operating system (yes, Windows 7 is also too old) which is regularly updated, you’re safe enough. An infected installer is the biggest problem of all because you’re explicitly giving the installer permission to run on your PC.
A decent antivirus program will catch the infection in time, but it’s not always reliable and in some cases, can create more problems than it solves. To be fair, Windows 10 itself has a slew of in-built safe-guards, such as sand-boxing, that prevent these programs from doing much damage.
If you’re sensible and careful when dealing with your PC, you’ll never need an antivirus program. The problem is that many of us are not that careful or don’t know enough to be more careful. For people like this, an antivirus program is crucial. Sadly, the vast majority of the world falls into this category.
If you really need an antivirus program, you need one that’s reliable. Sites like av-test thoroughly benchmark antivirus suites for various platforms.
Based on my own experience testing various suites and av-test results, I’d recommend the following:
I’d also suggest that you install and use LastPass for managing passwords and always keep your PC updated. It also doesn’t hurt to have a backup of your important data, preferably online.
Of course, if you’re on a Mac or Linux platform, you’re relatively safe. Those operating systems are more inherently secure than Windows and can get by without an antivirus program. Usually.
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