Do you still need an antivirus software in 2021?While modern operating systems are equipped to offer some level of protection against viruses, having antivirus softwares provide that extra layer of security.
We have come a long way from glitching Windows screens to adware and just plain annoyance viruses. Windows 10 today doesn’t feel as unsafe as the operating system in its earlier days. Viruses are mostly controlled by Microsoft’s in-built Windows Defender and with proper digital hygiene, tech-savvy people can identify phishing attempts and viruses manually. Considering how Windows automatically protects you from digital threats, do you need an antivirus software in 2021?
While yes, viruses have been controlled to some extent in modern operating systems, we have also seen some malicious applications plague digital users in the recent past. WannaCry was the infamous ransomware cyptoworm that encrypted around 200,000 computers across 150 countries. Mydoom, a worm, is considered one of the fastest spreading email worms with computers getting affected even today since its inception in 2004. As security has changed, so have the many viruses that infect your computer. While in the past, viruses were mainly designed to annoy or display unwanted information, the current landscape of the digital world has also given rise to more complex viruses with a specific purpose. Malware, like Stuxnet, have even been used to disable and disrupt nuclear power plants and engage in cyber warfare.
Antivirus software like Windows Defender is good in detecting known threats, blocking unwanted applications and network attacks but newer and newer viruses are developed which might not be identified in virus databases. These new variants can easily pass through antivirus scans and by the time they are detected, they might already have wreaked havoc on your computer. And even more than direct network attacks, social engineering infections are also one of the most common ways that computers are infected. If you don’t know what to look for, an exact copy of Facebook’s login page might be a phishing site.
While known threats are easy to protect against, it is the newer ones that use unknown vulnerabilities within a system that internet users need to be more worried about. The power of your computer to be used as a botnet and access to your personal data can be disastrous these days. Third-party antivirus softwares, while providing all the services of Windows Defender, also offer some great tools to keep you that extra bit safe on the internet.
Antivirus softwares like Kaspersky Internet Security, ESET Internet Security, Avast Antivirus, McAfee and BitDefender are all available in Nepal through eSewa or Khalti. All of these antivirus softwares have free versions as well but if you want to pay for the service, there are local dealers for them. For a free service, however, we recommend staying with Windows Defender since the integrated software works really well with Windows and is very light on resources. Free versions of any of these third-party services would add a few new features but for the most part, Windows Defender should work fine.
Paid versions of these services are where their value truly resides. Almost all of the third-party antivirus softwares come equipped with machine learning and artificial intelligence-based threat detection. Some, like Kaspersky and McAfee, also offer Password Managers to help complicate your passwords and keep them safe. Further features like Ransomware remediation help you protect your files even after your computer has already been infected by a ransomware. Threat detection for all of the aforementioned antivirus software are impeccable, helped by the fact that threat detections are now shared across all antivirus softwares. But for added protection to privacy, some also offer VPN services and software webcam kill switches.
Extra security is all well and good, but it doesn’t help very much if they hog all of your system resources. And in the past, antivirus softwares have been notorious resource hogs, completely freezing your computer while an active scan is running. With how invisible Windows Defender is, this doesn’t seem to be a problem with Microsoft’s in-house offering, but what about the third-party ones? Installing any new antivirus is definitely going to take up some of your system resources but it’s not as bad today as it was in the past. This is also because hardware has continued to evolve over the past decade, and what felt like heavy programs in the past, now run easily on one core of your CPU, leaving you with plenty of parallel processors to work off of. Kaspersky, ESET, and McAfee all raise system resources by a couple of percent while idle, but these are minimal increases that don’t necessarily affect system processes unless they’re running active scans. Norton was the heaviest and still, system performance was only slightly affected.
Considering everything, would I recommend installing an antivirus on your modern 2021 computer? Absolutely. The added protection offered by any of these security solutions will help not only protect your computer from infections but rather act reactively to malicious software as well. Additional services like Password Managers and VPNs are a must use today, and even if you don’t end up shelling out money for any of these antiviruses, free Password Managers (BitWarden) should be an essential program for any internet denizen to keep their online accounts safe. Getting one of these paid antivirus software is definitely going to help protect your data better, but they also come at a cost. Which is why, we recommend the default Windows Defender too, for those looking for a free solution. Viruses aren’t what they used to be, they’re used more nefariously today than ever before which is why thinking about cyber security should be a must to keep yourself safe in the digital world.