Do you really need to install security software anymore?
Summary: Many computer and smartphone manufacturers today claim that their devices don’t need an antivirus. This is not quite true since in-built protection isn’t always enough sophisticated. This article will analyze the level of protection of popular gadgets and decide whether you need to install an additional antivirus app on them.
Many computer and smartphone manufacturers today claim that their devices are protected from viruses straight out of the box. Some users take it for granted and don’t install antivirus software. However, the manufacturers’ assertions are sometimes not fully justified, and there might be threats to your personal data. This article will analyze the level of protection of popular gadgets and decide whether you need to install an additional antivirus app on them.
Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center comes with all Microsoft devices. It’s not an antivirus program but rather a not so powerful substitute for it. If you don’t run a third-party antivirus on your computer, the Center kicks in automatically. But if you turn on a full-fledged antivirus, the Center will remain dormant.
It protects you from some viruses and malware indeed, and it has a firewall. Also, it prevents unauthorized changes to files in certain folders (this feature is turned off by default, so you need to turn it on manually). But its efficiency against fishing, for example, is unacceptably low, and it works only in Microsoft browsers. If you prefer Firefox or Google Chrome, you’ll remain unprotected.
Google Play Protect
Anyone can upload virtually any content in Google Play since there is no vetting process there. As soon as Google detects any malware on the Google Play Store, it deletes it, however, it still takes time for Google to detect if it’s there. So there is a chance you might download a malware app, especially if you allow your smartphone to sideload automatically any additional apps it needs.
Once the malware is downloaded, it should be detected by the in-built Google Play Protect antivirus on your smartphone. But this antivirus makes mistakes too often. Sometimes it won’t identify malware, sometimes it might mistake a safe app for a spying one.
AV-Comparatives made an experiment with Google Play Protect and 10 third-party solutions. All of them had to face thousands of Android malware samples and either eliminate or launch them. 500 safe apps were added to the selection as well, in order to check the reaction of the antiviruses. With the safe apps, Play Protect took wrong decisions 28 times out of 500. With malware, it proved right in 83% of all cases. All the other antiviruses that took part in the experiment provided at least a 99.9% protection rate.
Trend Micro Maximum Security was the one to score a 100% protection rate. Its set of features is much broader for Windows and Android, but even with macOS and iOS, its protection goes beyond the basics. You can purchase it for $49.95 for 1 year, for 5 devices.
macOS is better protected than Windows. There is no sideloading, and you can install apps only from the AppStore. In the AppStore, there is a strict vetting process, so it’s hardly possible to upload any malware. As soon as you download any app on your macOS, the Gatekeeper component rechecks it for security. Moreover, the Gatekeeper will recheck the app on every launch if you use macOS Catalina. Every app needs to get permission from Catalina if it wants to access a critical area.
macOS won’t allow one program to modify another. That’s exactly what viruses need to do, they are helpless without modifying. Also, macOS won’t allow a program to access your browser memory — so a banking Trojan won’t be able to steal your data. All the apps are separated from each other, and the operating system itself is isolated from all the programs. T2 chips are built in newer Macs to create secure enclaves in their memories. Only the processes that are a part of macOS can gain access to these enclaves.
Unfortunately, hackers start to specifically target Macs more often now because the market share of these computers is steadily growing. There were cases already when certain malware managed to bypass the Gatekeeper by coopting a certificate that belonged to another program. Malwarebytes experts warn Mac owners: in 2019, the number of attacks on macOS increased by 400%.
MacKeeper is one of those apps that security experts recommend to install both for business and private use. It contains an antivirus as well as an ad cleaner and efficiently blocks malware or spying attacks. Your private data will be safe thanks to multilayered protection. The price for 1 month of using MacKeeper depends on the plan you choose and might differ from €14.95 (for a 1-month subscription) to €4.95 (for a 24-month subscription).
When the developers started to work on iOS, they relied on their vast experience of working with macOS. The very first version of iOS was already extremely well protected, and it kept evolving. Today your iPhone has such a sophisticated level of protection that you can’t even run an antivirus on it. However, iOS isn’t immune to malware. There might be some unwanted elements in it, but you won’t be able to identify them and they won’t do you any harm.
Maybe you’ve heard of certain solutions that allegedly allow a partial jailbreak of any iPhone. You shouldn’t be afraid of them since it’s impossible to jailbreak a locked smartphone. A malicious user will need to connect your iPhone to a computer to jailbreak it. Moreover, the effect will be gone after you reboot the phone.
Any average smartphone is protected from viruses better than an average PC. Smartphones are built on UNIX-based systems, so a virus can’t target them the same way it targets Windows. Due to the “sandbox” design, the app layer of an Android smartphone is separated from the system, which creates obstacles for a virus. If you download a malicious app, you need to start it yourself. Otherwise, it won’t do any harm to the device.
The paradox is that the most dangerous apps to install on a smartphone are antiviruses. Hackers often disguise malware as antiviruses, so please avoid downloading any unknown apps from third-party sites.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android might be an efficient and reliable choice for your gadget. It won’t block the malware, but it will scan all the apps and warn you if there is any potential danger. It will also warn you against suspicious websites and make your browsing safe. You can download Kaspersky Internet Security in Google Play for free.
So far, iOS serves as the best example of a safe, well-protected operating system. Hopefully, this won’t change in the next few years. At the same time, no computer on the market has a 100% reliable in-built virus and malware protection. Some solutions might be more efficient in combating viruses, like macOS for example. Others deliver unimpressive results and shouldn’t be used as the only level of protection, like Google Play Protect. No matter which computer or operating system you use, it would be wise if you install a proven antivirus and regularly update it. There are plenty of solutions available for a reasonable price that will keep your private data safe and your user experience impeccable.
By Naomi Stone (@Naomi99Stone) is a business strategist, storyteller, and global speaker who’s crazy about technical stuff and how things work. She’s a regular contributor to The Thrive Global and HubPages.