Why do I need antivirus software? What are some of the scariest threats online?
With cyber criminals making more money than the global drug trade in 2018, the complete list of online threats covers way more than we could possibly describe on this page. The most significant online threats can however be summarized as follows:
Botnets: These are a collection of software robots, or 'bots', that operate as an army of infected computers (also known as ‘zombies'). They are remotely controlled by the virus creator. Often users are infected without even knowing about it. If you are infected by a botnet virus, your computer will send spam emails with viruses attached to your contact list or be used as part of a denial of service attack against other systems.
DDoS attacks: A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack occurs when a malicious user gets a network of zombie computers to sabotage a specific website or server. The attack happens when the malicious user tells all the zombie computers to contact a specific website or server over and over again. That increase in the volume of traffic overloads the website or server causing it to be slow for legitimate users, sometimes to the point that the website or server shuts down completely. It could be possible for malicious users to use your computer in one of these attacks.
Malware infection: Malware is one of the more common ways to infiltrate or damage your computer via computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware. These viruses are often used to intimidate you with scareware, which is usually a pop-up message that tells you your computer has a security problem or other false information. You could also lose all your information due to an attack on your hard drive, have your files altered, or your sensitive information stolen.
Ransomware: A type of advanced malware that is rising in significance, ransomware extorts users to pay a sum of money in order to regain control over their operating system/private files. Payment to the cybercriminal is typically made with an untraceable cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
Phishing: A method most often used by cyber criminals because it's easy to execute and can produce the results they're looking for with very little effort. It is basically fake emails, text messages and websites created to look like they're from authentic companies. They're sent by criminals to steal personal and financial information from you. This is also known as “spoofing”. This can trick you into giving them information by asking you to update, validate or confirm your account. It is often presented in a manner than seems official and intimidating, to encourage you to take action and will provide cyber criminals with your username and passwords so that they can access your accounts (your online bank account, shopping accounts, etc.) and steal your credit card numbers.
Check out our Known Vulnerabilities Scanner
to see a list of the most common threats attacking systems at the moment.
Why do people create viruses? What is the point?
It depends on who created the virus. Most are made by criminals for financial gain. Ransomware or phishing attacks are usually of this type. Some are made by hackers just because they can (as an intellectual challenge to see who will detect the new virus and fix it) and some are made by governments (the best example being the now infamous Stuxnet worm that was created by the US and Israeli governments to target Iranian nuclear facilities and which caused their centrifuges to self destruct).
OK so I need a decent antivirus software. But is there really a difference between the different providers?
Yes, there are huge differences between the different offers. Some are better for Mac computers and some are only for Mac computers. Some support iOS and some only Windows. Some have better firewalls than others. There are those with lots of added features such as password managers, parental controls and gaming modes and those that only offer antivirus features but really good ones at that. Some are more user friendly than others, some are lighter on system resources and some offer packages for many devices at a decent price. That is where we come in – to help you make sense of it all!
Does antivirus software slow down my computer?
All software requires a certain amount of processing power to do its job and antivirus programs are no different in this respect. With the increase of processing power, most beliefs of antivirus software slowing down computers usually come from people who have suffered these issues in the past. The last 10 years have seen significant improvements in this respect and during our testing process we now find that even the most thorough scans consume almost negligible amounts of resources. So unless your computer or laptop are more than 7 years old, you should not worry about this at all!
Does a free antivirus program provide adequate protection for my needs?
As with most things - you get what you pay for - and in the case of antivirus software, this is definitely true.
Free antivirus programs do offer better protection than having no antivirus program at all, and may be sufficient for some people.
But when it comes to proper protection, the results of AV-Test and other leading cyber security laboratories have proven that in the long run, free antivirus programs by and large score way less well than their paid alternatives. Our own experience has shown that even though free programs are successful at fending off some threats, they tend to lack vital protection in key areas such as ransomware protection. They also have no extra features, poor customer support, and can be quite annoying in their attempt to upsell you to the paid version.
Whether or not one of these issues is a deal breaker for you probably depends on what you use your computer for, how important your personal information is to you, and what your personal financial situation is.
We spend so many hours and such a vital part of our lives online, and yet quite a few people are still reluctant to pay the small cost of proper antivirus protection. The results speak for themselves: The total cost for cybercrime committed globally has added up to over $1 trillion dollars in 2018! Cyber crime is now becoming more profitable than the global trade in illegal drugs.
Don’t become a victim of ransomware, phishing or other malicious attacks – protect yourself now!
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