Do I REALLY Need Antivirus Software?
I've used antivirus software for years, and it's never found a virus. I get the feeling that it's only slowing down my computer and costing me money, for no apparent benefit. Do I really need antivirus software?
Do Ya Feel Lucky?
Congratulations! You've been very fortunate, careful, lucky, or more likely some combination of the above. Perhaps you've never been in a car wreck, either. Does that mean you don't need a seat belt or air bag? Let's dig a little deeper into the car/computer analogy...
Maybe you're one of those people who use the Internet only for email, and occasionally a visit to a trusted news or shopping site. Maybe you never open email attachments, and you always keep your software up to date. Even if you're the poster child for "safe surfing" I'd say it still requires a bit of luck and a LOT of diligence to stay safe online.
The only way to be 100 per cent certain that you will never catch a computer virus is to completely isolate your computer from the rest of the world. You can't use the Internet. You can't insert a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive into your computer. It would be as if you locked your car in the garage to avoid getting into a collision. Yes, you'd be safe, but you would not get much use from the computer or car.
Antivirus software does not immunize you against all malware infections. It's just one part of a total computer security strategy that relies heavily on you, not software, to keep your computer virus-free.
Part of your security job is to keep all of your software up to date with the latest security patches. Enable Windows automatic updates, which will download and install critical security fixes at set times. Application software may include auto-update agents as well; don't turn those off, but let them do their jobs. See my article Secure Your Software for tips on how to check all the software on your computer for security vulnerabilities.
Well, Do Ya?
Practicing safe Web browsing is just as important as looking both ways before pulling your car out into traffic. Always think before you click on a link. Would your bank really be asking you to login and verify your social security number? Why is someone offering you free software? Where is this link going to take you, really? You can tell by hovering your cursor over the link to reveal the underlying URL.
When you receive email with attached files, be wary even if the email seems to come from someone you trust. Forged email is a favorite way to distribute virus-laden payloads. If something about an email does not look right, don't open the attached file. Contact the purported sender to verify that the message actually came from him or her, and ask what's in the attachment.
If you do all of this, do you still need antivirus software? Yes, because you, like all humans, are fallible. Antivirus software is your protection against human error. Virus authors are highly skilled at forging credible emails, and they know all the psychological buttons to push in order to get you to click on their links. If you make one mistake, you will be glad to have antivirus software to catch you.
In my opinion, there's really no good argument for NOT having anti-virus protection. See my article Free Anti-Virus Programs for a list of several excellent freebies that will do the job with minimal impact on your system performance.
Just don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because you use an antivirus program. Antivirus software developers are in a constant arms race against bad guys who keep coming up with new ways to slip malware through defenses. An antivirus program is no substitute for safe computing practices. But if you want to enjoy the benefits of computing, especially online, then you need to keep a good antivirus program active at all times.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Jul 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do I REALLY Need Antivirus Software? (Posted: 21 Jul 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved