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How relevant are antiviruses nowadays, and what are the alternatives

04.04.2023
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Viruses have plagued the Internet community and justified the creation of anti-virus software. Every day, new malware and other online threats appear. Unfortunately, the AV-Test Institute registered over 350,000 new malware and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) every day. This is why most people rely on antivirus software as their first line of defence. While there is no doubt that antivirus software works to prevent, detect and remove malware from internet devices, it is not 100% perfect. An IMB Knowledge Center report highlights the limitations of anti-virus protection, citing file size, scan time and nesting depth as affecting its functionality.

The common problems anti-virus users encounter are:

  • some anti-virus software can interfere with updates either by preventing them or harbouring them incompletely
  • some need to be updated on a regular basis and might skip the mind of the user, thereby endangering their system. Some anti-virus software can get outdated due to the advent of new viruses on a daily basis
  • some anti-virus software can tag normal, non-malicious software as dangerous. Tagged as “false positives,” it is common with anti-virus software, and most might delete or deactivate the program
  • some programmed anti-virus software are fake or substandard. Some users might install fake anti-virus software programmed by threat actors unknowingly
  • the renewal cost of most anti-virus software is regarded as costly. The cost ranges from $40 to $60 annually, depending on the programmer.

Fortunately, there are tested alternatives to using antivirus software. These alternatives can work alongside your current anti-virus programme or replace it entirely. Alternatives such as network and hardware firewalls can protect your system by monitoring and controlling traffic based on a pre-defined list of rules to ensure security. It can run alongside an anti-virus program to reduce risk.

Another better approach is online scanning. With online scanning tools, you can scan your internet devices at will to detect or remove unwanted malware. Although it's not as powerful as most antivirus software, it can provide a temporary solution and can be used to scan more specific parts of your device, such as folders, files, local disks, etc.

Migrating to cloud computing is also advisable, as cloud anti-virus software acts as a modern update and uses machine learning algorithms to detect and destroy threats from a single location, rather than on each specific workstation. Cloud antivirus can run on multiple platforms, providing more comprehensive security and safer endpoints.

If you can't keep up with some of these alternatives, anti-virus software is still your best bet for basic security. Anti-virus users are advised to choose the best available from the right source, and to avoid downloading multiple versions of media-hyped anti-virus software.