The term ‘antivirus’ is a bit of a misnomer today, since today’s antivirus software must protect our computers and data against not just computer viruses, but against all forms of malware. Thus, a more appropriate name today is anti-malware software, but whatever name you use, make sure you have this software installed on your computer. Antivirus software is the “sentinel” that guards your computer system, looking for, detecting, and destroying threats to your data and computer. Without it, your privacy and personal records are vulnerable.
Of course, if you make a habit of visiting only reputable sites, only downloading from official sources, and always keeping your operating-system software updated, you may well be wondering why antivirus software is needed. The fact is, going online without antivirus software is like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. It’s an unnecessary risk and the potential harmful consequences, too great. The people who write malware have the tools, motivation, knowledge, and techniques to launch their cyber attacks around the globe and get it out there to the wider digital world. A few sobering statistics from hashedout.com can shed some light on the severity of cyber crime:
- The number of records to be exposed by data breaches between 2018 and 2023 is estimated at 146 billion.
- Ransomware attacks are expected to increase 5x by 2021.
- In 2019, 1.16 billion email addresses and passwords were exposed in a massive breach called ‘Collection’.
- 540 million Facebook users were exposed in breach announced in 2019 (and 30 million were exposed in another breach in 2018).
- Email is responsible for spreading 92% of all malware.
- 30% of the world’s top websites are not secure.
You might also be wondering why antivirus software is needed if you already have Windows Defender. Defender is certainly an excellent baseline antivirus tool, but it is just that – baseline. It’s not enough to protect you against new and emerging malware known as zero-day threats. For this type of protection, you need dedicated antivirus software, which takes a comprehensive approach to threat detection and has more advanced detection capabilities as well as a wider range of security features such as VPNs, camera protection, password managers etc.
At the end of the day…
Unfortunate as it may be, crime is a feature of society. It exists in our real world and now in our digital world too. While we might be able to reduce it and control it, crime will never go away entirely. Thankfully, we don’t have to take unnecessary risks; we can lock our doors at night, wear motorcycle helmets when we ride a motorcycle, and install antivirus software on our computers.