With all of the news about corporate hacks that have affected companies such as SolarWinds and Microsoft, we want to take a moment to remind everyone about the importance of antivirus. Among the things that get lost in all of the doom and gloom news is that there are some simple steps we can take to protect ourselves online. Antivirus programs are one of the most basic, but there is a lot of bad information floating around out there, so we wanted to set the record straight.
Debunking Some Common Myths About Antivirus
- Windows Defender will NOT be enough to protect your system by itself
- Apple products ARE vulnerable to malware and viruses
- Safe websites CAN be hacked
- Emails from friends and family are NOT always safe
- Antivirus will NOT slow your system down
- YOU ARE A TARGET
There are more but let’s just wipe these myths away now.
Before we get into the details you need to know, let’s talk about why this is so important.
One reason that viruses and malware are so prolific is that many people don’t really understand what threats they face out on the internet. Hackers are actively trying to get your information. Yes…YOU! Every piece of personal information has a dollar value to someone. At the extreme ends are Marketers who want to find better ways to sell to you and Hackers who want to find better ways to steal from you. In between is a whole lot of people who can make money by collecting your personal information and selling it.
Many people don’t believe that they’re important enough to be targeted, and those trying to collect your information want you to keep believing that. The less aware you are, the easier it is for them to make money off the information they steal from you.
Awareness is good, but it’s not enough, that’s why we’re going to discuss:
Antivirus! The Information You Need To Know
A question we often get: Do I really need an Antivirus?
The answer in an unequivocal YES! Personally or for your small business, having an antivirus program is vital to internet security. There are many options when it comes to antivirus programs, which is good because different people have different needs.
We’re going to discuss why they are important and what they do for you, features to look for, and how to go about choosing the best option for your needs. With all of this information, you’ll be able to look at the landscape of available options and select the one that is best fit for you.
Why Antivirus is Important?
As we discussed earlier, it’s your information that’s at risk. From finances to friends to where you browse on the internet and so much more – your information belongs to you and it should be protected. Do you leave your front door unlocked or your keys in the car? Of course not that’s like inviting thieves to steal from you. Not having an antivirus program is doing just that. Antivirus programs help to protect you from cyber threats including malware, phishing scams, ransomware, spyware, Trojans, and more. In addition to stealing data, these types of attacks can also cause your computer to slow down, files to go missing, or completely lock you out, making your computer unusable.
Computers are our gateways to news, entertainment, communication, and millions of cat videos. Antivirus programs exist to help us protect our computers from viruses, hackers, and scams. But how?
Like the locks on your front door and car, antivirus programs are there to prevent intrusions into your computer. Also like those locks, they can’t stop every intrusion, but you are much safer with antivirus than without. All computer intrusions, whether or not they cause damage or steal information, are accomplished by exploiting a vulnerability. These vulnerabilities serve as the access point to an attack, and send a signal to others that the computer has been infiltrated, opening the door to bigger and more vicious attacks. Antivirus programs identify these vulnerabilities and close that door. The programs evolve to identify and counter new threats as hackers come up with them, which brings us to:
Lot’s Of Features
All antivirus programs are going to advertise a list of features. While all features are important, some are more important to specific people than others. We’re going to break down some of the most common features to look for when deciding which one to choose.
Far from the only features included with antivirus programs, these are the most important.
While the above features are essential to having a quality anti-virus program, there are others that may be important to one person and not another. An included firewall, easily navigable interface, multi-device protection, or VPN are just a few options that may be included in the software. Some of them, like the firewall might be good for personal use, but would not be anywhere near robust enough to handle a small business. Other factors such as multi-license costs, identity protection, and the availability of tech support might appeal to some people but not others, or businesses and not personal.
When choosing an anti-virus program, so long as it contains the features we discussed above, you will be protected. Always check the features to be sure it includes all of them. When looking at additional features, be aware that add-ons are just that…an anti-virus company is not going to be able to do firewalls, VPN, or backups as well as a company who specializes in those products, but what they offer may be enough to meet your particular needs.
Bonus Tip: The best way to compare features of specific programs is open a web browser and type: [product 1 name] vs [product 2 name]. Incidentally, this is a good way to compare features of product. You could even just type [product name] vs and get a list of similar products.
I’ve always had a love of working with technology, being fortunate enough to have grown up with a grandfather who taught me how to fix things for myself and not be afraid to jump in and get my hands dirty. Over the last three decades, I’ve worked as a technician, trainer, technical writer, and manager in small business, enterprise organizations, and government. In addition, I’m an author, having published multiple works available online and in print. You can find my creative work at https://WritingDistracted.com