Myth-busting Antivirus Assumptions
The number of new viruses grows every day. In fact, McAfee recently registered a 605% increase in total Q2 COVID-19 themed threat detections, contributing to the millions already in existence. While there is no way to know when or how cyberattacks will occur, it’s clear that antivirus software is one of the best ways to ensure you, and your devices, are safe.
Despite its efficacy, there’s speculation surrounding the effectiveness of antivirus. To set the record straight, we’ve debunked five common antivirus software myths, so you can rest assured that you are safely navigating the evolving cyber landscape.
Myth 1: Antivirus Software Slows Down Your Device
We expect a lot from our devices—faster performance every time the latest model is released. As a result, many are reluctant to install apps or software that may jeopardize device performance, including antivirus software.
Many believe that antivirus software will slow down your devices. However, contrary to popular belief, quality antivirus software can improve device performance by using advanced optimizations. It’s this simple: antivirus software conducts regular system-wide scans to identify and prevent viruses and improve performance without compromising efficacy.
To run these scans, antivirus software requires system resources, which is where this myth originates. If you download or operate more than one antivirus program or download the wrong version for your system, then yes, your device will slow to a crawl. That is why it is essential to install one high-quality antivirus software that meets all your devices’ system requirements. Additionally, best-in-class antivirus software can be set to run during specific hours to avoid delays during the busiest times of your day.
Myth 2: Antivirus Software Only Protects Against a Few Viruses
The number of malware strains and potentially unwanted applications (PUA) increases every year. It is understandable why people might think that antivirus software cannot protect against them all.
However, antivirus software can provide extensive protection against the majority of malicious programs. For example, McAfee offers advanced security by layering multiple threat prevention measures, such as signature and behavioral heuristic-based detection that leverages advanced machine learning models. These models integrate deep learning algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to emulate human-like reasoning and accurately detect threats. In addition, behavioral heuristic-based detection finds new viruses by assessing known malicious behavior, such as abnormal application demands and instructions. The unique capabilities of machine learning, data science, and AI for advanced threat detection enable antivirus software to protect against a wide range of existing and evolving threats.
Myth 3: Independent Third-Party Test Results Are Useless
Can you imagine grading your own driving test? You could omit the dreaded three-point turn and pass with flying colors, but the result wouldn’t be as accurate as that of an unbiased evaluator. This same concept applies to computer security. It’s easy for a company to set up a test environment where they highlight all the excellent capabilities of their antivirus software and gloss over its shortcomings. It’s equally as easy for a company to commission a third-party to conduct a custom test painting the company in a good light. However, the results will not be as comprehensive or accurate as those from an independent third-party. Additionally, they also will not provide a comparative analysis with other company offerings to help users draw their own conclusions.
Independent third-party test results offer a more thorough evaluation of antivirus software. They also do a better job at evaluating security features. Furthermore, ISO-certified independent third parties lend transparency and credibility to the techniques used and ensure that evaluations align with industry standards.
Myth 4: Apple Products Can’t Get Viruses
There is a common belief that Apple products are protected against viruses because cybercriminals often target Windows and Android operating systems. However, Apple devices are just as vulnerable to viruses as any other computer or smartphone. Regardless of your device or operating system—macOS, iOS, Windows, or Android—if it connects to a network, it’s susceptible to viruses.
Windows and Android have long been the dominant operating systems for computers and smartphones. That’s why macOS and iOS have, up until recently, been the lesser focus for cybercriminals. The problem is that cybercriminals want to spread their viruses to the platforms with the largest customer base which just so happens to be Windows and Android. As Apple products continue to grow in popularity, cybercriminals will continue coming out with more viruses specifically targeting Macs, iPhones, and other iOS devices.
Myth 5: You Are 100% Protected if You Have Antivirus Software
Some believe that antivirus software protects against only a small percentage of malware, but others believe that it offers 100% protection. Neither are true.
Antivirus software is not a guarantee of protection against all viruses. While antivirus software provides basic protection against malware, it comes second to heightened personal security awareness.
Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to manipulate unsuspecting victims to hand over sensitive information or click through seemingly legitimate sites out of fear or curiosity. It’s through these tactics that they gain access to users’ systems and exploit their vulnerabilities. Users must understand how to recognize suspicious messages and understand common tactics that cybercriminals use to access their devices.
Fact vs. Fiction: Know What Antivirus Software Can Do for You
It is necessary to bust common myths about antivirus software to protect yourself and your family from cyberthreats. By educating yourself and selecting a best-in-class antivirus software, you will be well on your way to implementing an effective protection strategy.
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