Do you still need antivirus protection for Windows in 2024?

February 8, 2024  |  Anas Baig

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The question of whether you need antivirus (AV) for Windows devices is always up for debate. The advancements and new technology have made the operating system (OS) more secure and reliable. Nevertheless, the effectiveness and lethality of cyber threats have increased as well. And every year, millions of Windows users fall victim to various digital perils.

This article will discuss whether antivirus software is needed for Windows devices. You’ll discover how AVs work and the most common cyberattacks they can prevent. Moreover, we’ll review the benefits and drawbacks of built-in and third-party antivirus software.

How does antivirus work?

Scanning, removing, preventing – these are the 3 main stages of how an antivirus works.

Once you install an AV, it scans every email, app, and file. During this process, it compares the results with its database. If something is off, the antivirus marks it as malware.

Then, the AV either quarantines the malicious files or entirely obliterates them. And while all that is happening, a reliable antivirus runs smoothly in the background, preventing intruders from harming your devices and stealing your data.

According to Datto’s global research, Windows device users should be the most concerned about their safety. Around 91% of gadgets that use this OS have been targeted by ransomware attacks.

Nevertheless, none of the OS are entirely immune to various online perils. Whether using a Mac, Windows, or Android device, it’s better to be safe than sorry and use an AV. That way, you won’t put yourself, your devices, or your precious data at risk.

What threats can a Windows antivirus prevent?

As we briefly mentioned, a reliable antivirus can protect your device from online dangers. There are a few most common ones. Below, you’ll find them and what threat they pose:

  • Viruses: These malicious programs multiply and spread from one computer to another. Viruses can attach themselves to programs and files, damage the system, and let other malware in.
  • Malvertising: Cybercriminals can inject malicious code into online advertisements. These compromised ads can infect users’ devices or redirect them to dangerous websites without their knowledge or consent.
  • Ransomware: Malicious actors use this tactic to lock up your data and demand a ransom, usually in cryptocurrency, in exchange for the decryption key.
  • Phishing attack: You might receive fake emails and messages or be redirected to websites asking for information. That way, cybercriminals want to get access to your usernames, passwords, and financial data.
  • Drive by downloads: You might stumble across malicious sites that automatically download unwanted files onto your device. The software then can wreak havoc on your computer or smartphone.
  • Password attacks: Malicious actors can use brute-force attacks (repeatedly trying different combinations), keylogging (recording keystrokes), or credential stuffing (using known usernames and passwords obtained from other breaches) to steal your information.

You can fall victim to any of these attacks. Therefore, we highly recommend getting a powerful & reliable antivirus for Windows 11.

Built-in or third-party Windows antivirus: which one should you choose?

You probably know that Windows comes with its built-in antivirus, Windows Defender. It’s automatically enabled and provides real-time protection against various types of malware, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware. While it’s suitable for basic safety, it’s far from ideal.

Sadly, Windows Defender doesn’t have the advanced protection features that third-party AVs have. Moreover, other anti-malware apps perform better on Windows devices without taking a massive toll on the system. Plus, using a third-party antivirus can create a more diverse security ecosystem that will ensure better security and privacy.

Therefore, if you don’t want to risk your data and be 100% sure that no one breaches your privacy, it would be wiser to use top-tier third-party antivirus software for Windows.

How to choose the best Windows Antivirus?

There are loads of antivirus apps that claim to be the best for Windows OS users. However, you shouldn’t trust every claim they make. Therefore, before choosing an AV, we suggest looking at the most important aspects that will help you pick a trustworthy antivirus:

  • Reputation. To find out whether an antivirus is truly worth it, check out Reddit threads, forums, and review sites. They gladly share their experiences with the AVs, so you’ll get a better understanding of how good the antivirus is.
  • Effectiveness. Another thing you need to look at is how well the AV performs when detecting and eliminating malware. For that, you should check out independent testing sites like av-test.org or selabs.uk.
  • Privacy. Don’t forget to look at your potential provider’s privacy policy. Some AVs are notorious for collecting users’ data and later selling it to data brokers.
  • Ease of use. An antivirus should provide an intuitive interface and easy configuration settings. Yet again, you can depend on Reddit threads or test it out yourself if an AV has a free trial period or a free version.
  • Features. At the very least, the antivirus should provide real-time scanning, firewall protection, email filtering, and behavioral analysis. Moreover, some providers might include useful extras, like password managers, VPNs, ad blockers, etc.

Conclusion: Is antivirus software for Windows really necessary?

The short answer is absolutely! As we mentioned before, Windows devices are the most targeted OS by malicious actors and snoopers. While there’s Windows Defender to keep you safe at first, you need more robust protection nowadays. That way, viruses, malvertising, password attacks, and a bunch of other digital perils won’t be a problem.

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