Why free antivirus probably won’t protect you from malware

Malware infects your network and helps hackers steal your data

Having reliable Internet Security or Anti-virus software should protect you from possible malware attacks, but the truth is, most malware is installed by the users of your network, i.e. your team!

Can I use free antivirus software?

Of course, you can, but it’s probably not your best protection. As users install most malware, you may find that your antivirus software doesn’t do the job you expect it to. The problem with free software in many cases is that they rely on others to find the virus or malware signatures. It’s not to say there aren’t some good open-source or free solutions (check them out here: https://www.antivirussoftwareguide.com/best-free-antivirus).

What do I get with paid antivirus software?

In most cases, paid antivirus software is very comprehensive. Zero-day (0-day) viruses and malware can often be detected by paid software as they continually update their databases throughout the day and look for common signatures or unusual behaviour on your computer – both are telltale signs something might be going wrong. These antivirus solutions are much more comprehensive and do the following:

  • Monitor CPU and memory usage.
  • Watch out for spikes in usual Internet traffic.
  • Scans your email (more on that, later).
  • Watch which sites you browse using either browser extensions or by monitoring DNS requests.
  • Most include end-point security, which covers the above, well beyond simple virus scanning and monitoring.

Where do we install antivirus software?

Antivirus software is usually installed on all your workstations and servers. You can also install antivirus software on most phones as these are just as vulnerable to viruses and malware. Beyond these installations, there are some outside of your control, such as your hosted email service provider. In this case, you’re relying (or hoping) your service provider has some level of protection in place.

How can you sell your service provider has antivirus software in place?

If you’re using Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, these have some of the best protection in the market. Not only do they filter attachments and emails, but they also are very good at identifying spam messages which hackers can use for phishing campaigns.

If you’re using a different provider, they may not be running antivirus protection at all. Most do run spam protection because of the volume of email they provide, and it would overload their network if they weren’t. But, how can you tell? If your email provider does not clearly tell you on their website, you may need to contact their support, and don’t settle for “we scan your email”, ask them what systems they use. If it’s of interest, here is an article that might give you a few ideas: https://expertinsights.com/insights/the-best-email-security-solutions-for-msps/

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to protecting your network

Remember, most viruses and malware come from users taking some action. Teaching your team to keep your network safe is by far your best defence, even if you only use free software. Running even Microsoft Defender is better than nothing. Running a product that specialises in Internet security, such as WebRoot or ESET NOD32, is often much better. These companies specialise in keeping their clients safe; after all, their entire business is just that – keeping your network safe. Microsoft put Defender in place because people often didn’t install antivirus software, so they understand that some protection is better than no protection.

We have been helping businesses with online security and other online IT support for over 15 years. Be sure and check out of range of Managed IT Services

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