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What is AntiVirus Software?
We use the term ‘antivirus’ software since that’s what it’s always been called but in reality, today’s antivirus software does so much more.
Threats are everywhere on the internet today. In the old days, getting a virus on your computer usually meant downloading a bad piece of software with a virus attached, or opening an email attachment with a virus.
These days, just visiting a website can be enough to infect your computer if you are not protected.
Viruses, Malware, Phishing sites and more are some of the ways your system can get infected.
What is Malware?
Malware is a generic term that stands for Malicious Software.
Basically, anything that can harm your computer or identity would be considered Malware.
What kind of threats are there?
Common types of Malware threats are:
Software that lurks in the background on your computer and keeps track of what you are doing. Usually used to gain access to things like your online banking information, etc.
A computer virus acts just like one in your body. It can spread throughout your computer, rendering it very slow or completely disabling it.
A Trojan virus can be very difficult to detect and protect against and is probably the most common threat online today. Trojans usually come from visiting infected websites or come via email.
This form of malware will lock down your computer, usually making it unusable until you pay the author of the virus some kind of fee.
Adware is one of the least destructive of all the forms of malware but unfortunately is one of the most common. Adware works by infecting your computer and typically redirecting your web searches to another page where the author of the malware will get some kind of compensation for your clicks.
A botnet is a form of virus that works by connecting many infected computers together in a hidden network. The network is controlled by the author to do things like perform DDOS attacks.
There are even more forms of malware but these are the most common ones and likely ones that might infect you.
I don't need Antivirus Software
A lot of people will say “I don’t go to any bad websites, so I don’t need antivirus software”.
That’s like driving your car without insurance. Maybe you’ll never have an accident. Or maybe you will. If you do, you’ll be happy you had insurance. And if you come across a virus, you’ll be happy you were protected.
The cost of antivirus software is far less than what a typical repair of your infected computer will cost.
What's the difference between free and paid software?
Like anything, you get what you pay for. Free antivirus software is good but it’s not great.
Depending on the software you are choosing, paid versions will have additional features to protect you from more threats. Examples would include better identity theft protection, firewalls and greater protection from phishing sites.
Deciding on a free or paid version might depend on your budget and also your online habits. The more you are online, the greater the chances of contracting a virus or other malware.
I have a Mac, I don't need Antivirus Software
A common myth is that a Mac is immune to viruses. This is simply not true.
What is true is that Windows-based PC’s are far more vulnerable to malware and viruses. But that’s not to say that viruses for Mac’s don’t exist. Because they do.
Many virus makers tend to write their code to attack Windows computers rather than Mac simply because there are far more PC’s in people’s home and offices. And Apple’s operating system is known to detect and control malware much better than it’s Microsoft counterpart.
So to answer the question: YES, even a Mac should have antivirus software installed.
Whether you choose a free or a paid antivirus software package, surfing the web or reading your email should never be done without some protection. Without protection, it’s not a matter of IF you will be infected, but WHEN.
Most modern antivirus packages will give the average person good protection against most forms of malware. But none of them are perfect since new threats are being created constantly.
Choose a software package that has the right features for you, whether that means multi platform support or the ability to install it on all your home computers for one cost.