Opinion: No, you really don’t need to run antivirus software


Because malicious software continues to evolve, it is very important for you to stay on top of the latest updates. — Image by DCStudio on Freepik

This week a reader had a question is about antivirus software.

“I recently replaced my 12-year-old computer with my granddaughter's 3-year-old gaming desktop when she updated to a new device.

Question: My granddaughter used Windows Defender for protection, as her opinion is Norton Antivirus works too much like a virus and had a bad reputation in her gaming community.

I have used Norton on my home devices since 2006. Do you have any preferences on which gives the best security?” I do have a preference, and your granddaughter is correct.

I’m not here to talk bad about anyone’s software choices. Whatever works for you is great, as long as you are happy with the results.

As for my preference, I work for the largest university system in Texas, and we don’t use anything for protection other than Microsoft Defender, which used to be called Windows Defender.

It can be found as part of the Windows Security Center, with an icon that looks like a little shield in your system tray on the bottom right side of your screen.

In the last few years, Microsoft and Apple have become very good at providing protection for their operating systems.

Because malicious software continues to evolve, it is very important for you to stay on top of the latest updates.

If you click the Windows Security icon, the Virus Threat and Protection dashboard will come up, showing the last scan and any threats found.

You can also choose to start a scan from this dashboard.

You’ll also see when the protection definitions were last updated, and you can manually check for any newer updates.

Windows Defender real-time protection should be on by default.

As for Norton or McAfee or Trend Micro or any of the other protection suites, I’d avoid them.

In my experience, they do tend to get in the way.

Because they are not built into the operating system, third-party security suites keep a watch from the sidelines, which will slow things down.

We only use Defender at the university, and we have had no issues.

That said, if you have a work or school provided computer with third-party antivirus software installed on it, please do not try to remove, or disable it. If your school or work IT department has done a good job, you shouldn’t have permission to remove it anyways.

Lastly, if you do find there is some malware on your PC, such as a browser that keeps redirecting you to pages you didn’t ask to see or popup ads that keep showing up, I recommend downloading and running the free version of Malwarebytes (Malwarebytes.com), but I would only install it long enough to let it scan and fix things and then remove it. – Tribune News Service

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