Internet-enabled devices have become a central part of our daily lives. And with their growth, has come the growth of computer viruses. But with tons of companies selling it in various forms and for different rates, the bigger question is if antivirus software is really necessary.
The short answer is, “Yes!”
Advancing technology has made antivirus software essential, as it is the best way to protect both your computer and personal information from being damaged or stolen. Here’s why all devices need some kind of security.
What Is Antivirus Software?
Computer viruses behave much in the way human viruses do, which is the reason the analogy is so strong. As with human viruses, technological viruses enter the system, only to self-replicate and spread. They perform unwanted actions that affect data and harm files. This can range from annoying, such as slowing your computer or messing with your files, to harmful — such as stealing your usernames and password to get into your banking or medical records, taking over the use of your private webcam without you knowing it, and more.
Antivirus software was created to detect the presence of a virus and remove it from your operating system. But they are not only designed to remove existing viruses, they can also prevent new malware from entering your computer.
Who Needs It?
Some computer users believe that being careful online and only visiting legitimate websites is enough to avoid viruses and other malware. Unfortunately, that’s not enough. (Remember, your commuter or phone is probably used by others, like your kids who may be naïve to the dangers in the world.)
Beyond user error, hackers can exploit holes in operating systems, in web browsers, through email links, and in popular consumer sites. Even big-name, otherwise honest companies have become unwitting spreaders of computer viruses.
Is Antivirus Software Really Necessary?
Since there are forces in the world from thieves and scammers to governments who are looking to steal your money or identity, you can never be too safe. And since viruses can damage your computer beyond repair as well, there is no compelling reason to go without antivirus software. Therefore, practicing online safety is important, but caution alone cannot keep your devices secure.
There are three main types of antivirus programs:
- Standalone antivirus software
- Security suites
- Cloud-based antivirus solutions
Standalone antivirus software is a specialized tool designed to detect and remove viruses. Sometimes called portable antivirus software, it’s often installed on a USB drive for an emergency scan of an infected system. But that’s after the fact; these portable systems aren’t designed to provide real-time protection.
By comparison, security suites provide round-the-clock protection for your computer and its files. These programs usually include a combination of anti-spyware, firewall, parental controls, password managers and even a virtual private network (VPN).
Lastly, cloud-based antivirus solutions analyze your files from the cloud, allowing your computer can run periodic virus scans without taking up local memory. These programs also use a web service to monitor your data and inspect it for malware.
Regardless of which devices you use, antivirus software is imperative for keeping your technology and personal data safe.