The hacking community is gaining strength. They are no longer a bunch that does things to simply annoy PC users. They now have the power to bring the whole world to a standstill – WannaCry ransomware served as a perfect example – on any given day. Therefore, given the circumstances, it quite easy for users to start thinking that the good old antivirus is no longer sufficient enough to protect their PC(s).
But can this be really true? Let’s examine certain aspects associated with anti-virus protection before arriving at the answer.
What Does Antivirus Software Do?
Antivirus was primarily responsible for defending PC(s) against computer viruses (the one which can self-replicate and spread themselves once they successfully infiltrate a network). But as the security threat landscape expanded, so did the list of malware the anti-virus software could handle. And today, they can successfully tackle keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses – and even the modern-day ransomware to a certain extent. So they are certainly useful, no doubts about that.
Antivirus Protection In the Modern-Day Context
Today the hacking community hugely relies on ‘zero-day exploits’ or ‘zero-day vulnerabilities’ to infect enterprise networks and individual PC(s). A zero-day exploit is a software exploit which is yet to be discovered by the makers of antivirus packages (and software vendors as well) and therefore the malware signature (signs indicative of a specific malware) won’t be available in their list.
So, unfortunately, AV(s) won’t be able to defend against these ‘zero-day exploits’ until the exploit is uncovered fully and the AV(s) are updated with the appropriate malware signature. But even this issue can be tackled by the modern-day antivirus through behavioral analysis via which any suspicious behavior will be spotted and the process terminated. But this area is indeed a weak point for antivirus software.
For this reason, these days the modern-day antivirus software is usually packaged with other cloud-based security software – known by names such as internet security software or endpoint protection – so that they stay updated with the latest malware signatures all the time.
Free Vs Paid Antivirus: Which To Choose?
Antivirus protection usually comes in two packages: free and paid. Which to choose really depends upon your requirements. If you are a PC user who uses the internet minimally and needs just the basic protection, then free antivirus would be more than enough for you. On the other hand, if you are someone who uses the internet heavily, and carries out sensitive transactions like online banking and purchases, then you have no choice but to go for the paid antivirus, because a lot is at stake and you don’t want to risk anything over a matter of few dollars, would you?
There’s nothing wrong with opting for free antivirus. It will offer PC users solid protection. But it is the ‘unknown’ which we fear the most – both in the real and virtual world. Because they cannot be predicted that easily. Therefore to handle the unknown (malware), you need your antivirus to work in sync with other security software, which makes it more powerful.
Remember antivirus acts as the final line of defense for your PC(s). Which means if all else fails, there’s the chance of antivirus stopping – or at least mitigating – any malicious software from harming your PC(s). Because of this reason, they are central to every security software suite. Therefore ensure you install one – either as a stand-alone application or as a part of software suite – to ward off various security threats.