One thing that bugs me to no end are sales team members at big box stores. I get it, they are just trying to help and push a few products to get some commission. I’d be fine with this practice if it weren’t for the fact that they are often selling something that is not required and even potentially harmful to the consumers…I’m talking about 3rd-party anti-virus software.
Back in the days of Windows XP, and earlier ones of course, it was a standard practice to purchase a piece of software that promised to repel and quarantine harmful files in exchange for your hard earned money. This was due to the fact that earlier operating systems were not built on a secure foundation…security was an afterthought.
Save Your Money!
If you are ever in the market for a new Windows PC, do not let yourself be talked into purchasing a protection suite. The sales person will try to convince you that you should buy one, making you feel that your new computer will be at severe risk of attack if you don’t install an anti-virus.
Many of the popular options in the anti-virus market will cost an average of $20 to $40…some even have yearly costs to “protect” your operating system. Keep that money in your pocket. The software that comes pre-installed on any modern operating system is more than capable of keeping your PC safe…as long as you follow safe computing practices.
Use the Built-In Protection
Modern operating systems that are up to date will have all the security features you need without slowing down your device. If you bought and installed anti-virus software, you are giving it access to almost every area of your operating system. This is how they try to protect you…looking for anomalies in system files and rogue applications. By giving any application this level of access, you are putting your computer at risk. If there are flaws in the anti-virus software…attackers could potentially exploit those flaws and attack the PC.
Windows uses a tool called Windows Defender that is turned on by default and is more than capable of protecting your PC. For years it has been running on all of my Windows machines and I can’t remember the last time I was infected. Macs are a bit different in the way you obtain software. Having an App Store, Mac users can safely download and install trusted applications that have been vetted by Apple and other users. Mac apps implement what is known as ‘sandboxing’, which prevents one app from venturing out of its little container and potentially harming system files or other apps.
In your internet browser there are also safeguards that prevent rogue applications from running on your machine. Popular browsers such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are filled with top-notch services that protect the users from an attack…because, let’s face it, your biggest risk of getting a virus is while you are browsing the web and downloading files.
Tips to Avoid Being Attacked
Even with modern operating systems, the number one reason a person is infected is due to their own actions. Clicking on malicious links, opening attachments, visiting seedy websites, etc. Follow these few tips to help avoid being targeted.
- Stop visiting sites you are not familiar with.
This may seem like common sense but there are many people out there who will just click on a Facebook post that someone shared and it will direct them to a less than reputable website…where they start clicking on various other links.
- Ensure your operating system and browsers are UP TO DATE!
Turn on those automatic updates and stop ignoring them. Windows 10 makes it hard to avoid updating the operating system…this is a good thing. Updates are not bad. Sure, it might be a slight inconvenience to you. Maybe you’ll need to restart your machine. But updates are one way that the software developers patch holes in their software. Without these patches, you are putting a larger target on yourself.
- Don’t hit those download links! Get the software from the source.
This tip is a bit difficult to explain without a slick graphic to accompany it. So please look at the image above. Can you spot the real download link? I’ll give you a minute…try to find it…maybe the green one….could be the orange one….that green arrow next to “download now” looks good…well, could you see it? Answer, they are all bad links. This screen showed up AFTER successfully downloading the software. There are many software download sites that offer thousands of applications to download and many of them are filled with these fake buttons that download garbage software at best…viruses and malware at worst.
- If you aren’t expecting an attachment in an email…don’t open it.
If someone sends you a link or a file attachment that you weren’t expecting…delete it. Sometimes attackers try to spoof a contact in your email contact list and send you an email with a malicious link or file. Just delete it.
A Final Thought
If you have anti-virus software installed, you are probably okay to uninstall it. The software isn’t really doing much if you are using safe browsing tactics and have Windows Defender activated. I’d recommend running a full scan with Windows Defender every once in a while to ensure you aren’t harboring any stowaway applications.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section or email me directly at HandyDandyHim@gmail.com.