It’s been a rough year for antivirus software. More and more PC security experts are pointing out weaknesses of antivirus software every day, and even an average virus can avoid the filters established by antivirus programs.
To make this issue even more frightening, viruses like Flame were able to infect computers for three years before they were even discovered by antivirus programs. Identifying the Flame virus was one thing, but removing it was an entirely different story. The Flame virus affected antivirus software for months, and many people lost faith in their programs after that debacle.
One network security expert is claiming that the age of antivirus software is over. Bill Brenner, who writes for a blog at CSO Online, states that:
“A lot of very smart people in the security community have been panning AV [Antivirus software] for some time now. Their main gripe is that AV programs are constantly behind the times, unable to keep up with an always rapidly changing threat landscape.”
Basically, antivirus software is reactive, not proactive. Instead of helping users avoid threats before they occur, antivirus software needs to update itself every time a threat is discovered. This means the virus has time to attack users before they update their antivirus software. Since some viruses lock down a computer’s internet after they infect the system, these antivirus software updates might never even take place.
The one thing preventing PC security experts from moving away from antivirus software entirely is that having antivirus installed is still better than having no antivirus software installed. In other words, imperfect antivirus software is better than having none at all.
However, some PC security experts say that having no antivirus software is actually a good thing. Antivirus software just gets in the way of having a more perfect type of PC defense – namely, educating the user on how to avoid threats on their own.
So, if antivirus software weren’t installed at all, PC users would have to know what is safe and what isn’t on a computer. They would have to spend time educating themselves on security threats and learning how to avoid them. For example, these users would learn that downloading free songs from the internet in the form of ‘.exe’ files is a bad idea, or that they should avoid clicking on shortened links sent to them through Facebook or Twitter.
Since many tech experts operate computers safely with no antivirus software installed, the ‘educated user’ defense is perfectly adequate for computer users who know what they’re doing.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid viruses is to educate yourself on safe internet practices while having antivirus software installed. That way, you can avoid 99% of all virus threats while still having the antivirus software as a safety net for times when a virus slips through the cracks. Because at some point or another, even the best PC security experts encounter a virus that they didn’t expect.
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