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Is third-party antivirus software needed in 2022?

25th April 2022
Computer viruses are so last decade, aren’t they? Don’t most operating systems already come loaded with antivirus software these days, and if so, what’s the point in paying out for software that simply does what the device already does? It’s true, many operating systems do include some form of antivirus software, but built-in antivirus, without the added extras usually offered, is pretty basic, and often won’t protect you against the newest threats.

And we’re talking a lot of new threats…

Over 350,000 new malware and PUA (potentially unwanted applications) threats are detected each day by the AV Test Institute. And if you’re a Windows user, the bad news is, 87% of those malware attacks are directed at you.

So, how does antivirus protect?

Basically, antivirus is like a team of security guards for your operating system. It’ll spend its time scanning, and if it sees any trouble, it’ll investigate, quarantine the culprit, and if it finds anything serious, it’ll remove it.

Of course, that’s a very simple analogy, and even basic antivirus software does a lot more than simply scan and remove threats. To go into a little more detail, here’s a rundown of the features most antivirus includes?

  • Scans: All antivirus software will have the ability to scan your device/operating system, whether it’s on a permanent basis or scheduled.
  • Virus quarantine and removal: A scan is great, but it’s what happens when a threat is detected during each scan that matters. That’s why, most antivirus will have a quarantine and removal feature, which basically means the threat is separated from the rest of the system, checked if it really is a threat, then removed if it’s deemed to be dangerous.
  • Behaviour-based detection: Behaviour-based detection is a feature in your antivirus software that detects malware, based on certain behaviours – a bit like the metaphorical security guard looking out for people acting differently/suspiciously from the usual crowd.
  • Web browsing protection: This feature usually runs constantly, so that should you find yourself on a dodgy website, it’ll either give you a warning, or prevent you from visiting the site.

And here are some of the extra (often paid for) features common with some good antivirus software:

  • Parental controls: This does what it says on the tin – it gives parents or guardians control over what children see and do online.
  • Firewalls: Firewalls are there to block threats before they become a danger to your device or operating system.
  • Password manager: A feature that stores your login credentials.
  • Encrypted cloud storage: This is a file storage feature which is encrypted, which basically means it each file remains scrambled and can only be unscrambled with a password or other login method.
  • System optimisation: System optimisation is a feature that removes threats and slow-running programs etc. to help your system run faster and smoother.
  • VPN: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a feature that encrypts your web activity and your IP address to improve privacy, especially when using free and unsecured Wi-Fi.

So, why do I need third-party antivirus?

Good question – if built-in antivirus software in general contains all of the above, why bother with third-party antivirus? The simple answer is, built-in antivirus often lacks some essential features required to protect against modern cyber threats. Two of those features are:

Endpoint Protection: An endpoint in IT terms, is a device connected to an IT network. So, if you login to your works network, your device is the endpoint. Endpoint protection is software that keeps that (vulnerable) connection between you and your works network secure.

Automated investigation and response: Automated Investigation and Response (AIR) is a security feature that automatically investigates a threat and remediates it in the same way a team of security analysts working 24-7 would.

What about free antivirus?

Free antivirus is an option you could investigate, but before jumping in headfirst, here are a few things to consider:

  • Free antivirus doesn’t usually have a firewall
  • Free antivirus might not be compatible for your device
  • Free antivirus will usually only cover one device
  • Free antivirus will usually only be free for a limited period
  • How to get the most out of your antivirus software

Now that we’ve hopefully convinced you of the importance of third-party antivirus software, here are a few tips on how to get the most out of it.

  • Keep your antivirus updated: Once you have your third-party antivirus installed, it will require updating from time to time, especially if you need to add more devices.
  • Don’t double up: Some people feel that the more antivirus software they have the better. This simply isn’t true, and by doubling up you may actually be making your network more vulnerable.
  • Make sure you enable real-time scanning: Some antivirus software will only scan your device or network on demand, unless instructed otherwise. So make sure to enable real-time scanning, so that you’re protected at all times.
  • Hire a professional: When you have a large business IT network, consisting of multiple users, setting up and managing antivirus and antimalware software, is going to be a complex task. In these circumstances, we’d always advise on hiring a cyber security professional, someone with the knowledge and experience to ensure all areas of your business IT network are protected ongoing, and that a remediation plan is in place should your network suffer a cyber attack.

Contact us

If you’re looking for jargon-free help with antivirus or antimalware software for your business, contact JamCrackers today. We have over 10 years’ experience in providing bespoke cyber security packages to a whole range of businesses, across a large variety of sectors and industries.