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Cybersecurity Tips | Antivirus Software Thumbnail

Cybersecurity Tips | Antivirus Software


Hi, my name is Dave Hatter and I'm a cybersecurity consultant at IntrustIT.  I'm excited to be here on behalf of my friends at HCM to talk about a very important and timely cybersecurity topic, antivirus software, or apps.

What is antivirus software? Let's talk about some of the other terminology that you might hear used in reference to Antivirus Software. The term antivirus has been around for a long time, but over time as different types of malicious software or malware have evolved, the definition has become a little bit broader. You sometimes will hear nerds like me talk about anti-malware versus antivirus, or even endpoint protection, an end point being something like a phone, a computer, a server, et cetera. As more devices have been encompassed in the need to be protected from malware., and as the definition of malware continues to evolve because the bad guys are bad and they constantly changed their attacks, you've had this evolution in the terminology.

When you hear a nerd like me say antivirus software or app, anti-malware software or app, or endpoint protection, software, or app, it generally means the same thing. And essentially what it boils down to is software that you would install on your devices, your mobile phone, your PC, your notebook, your desktop, your server, your tablet in order to try to keep that device from becoming infected with malware things like viruses, worms, trojan horses, root kits, ransomware, et cetera.

It's really important that you put antivirus software on every device that will support it. Sometimes internet of things devices, smart refrigerators, TVs, or whatever, there's really no way to install antivirus software on that, or there's no antivirus that that particular device supports. But for any device that will support endpoint protection or Antivirus Software, you really need something on it. Running devices without endpoint protection or anti-malware software, you're really just opening yourself up for a whole plethora of issues. Modern antivirus or endpoint protection software has gotten very robust, very good. In the past, sometimes it would cause problems with performance issues, might make machines lock up occasionally. We don't see those kinds of problems anymore. It's something you just need to do.

And there's a couple of things that you need to understand. Once you have antivirus software, and I want to point out, you'll see, in the second to last bullet point there, if you use Microsoft Windows 10, it ships with Windows Defender, Microsoft's free Antivirus or anti-malware software.

Defender has come a long way over the years. In many cases, people will say, well, should I use something free, like Defender or other free antivirus software, or should I spring for something like Norton? Okay. This is not just my opinion. You can see, I have a link there to CNET, CNET is one of many websites I like to refer people to. CNET.com ZD, Ziff Davis, net.com.

You've got PC magazine and others out there where you have editors and experts who will vet software. They test it, they make sure it's legitimate, they test it to make sure it does what it's supposed to do. They test it to make sure that it won't cause problems for you.

Don't just take my advice for this, you can go out and before you download any software and especially something as critical as antivirus software, do some homework. This particular link here to Cnet.com takes you to their best antivirus page for 2021.  Every year they’ll put out a list of various different types of software where their experts and their editors will rank it.

You'll find that in the free software bucket, because again, Defender's free it ships with windows, it's come a long way. Most sites will tell you it's probably as good as anything you might pay for. If you look at IT industry groups like Gartner or Forrester or others, you'll see they rank Defender very high. If you don't want to spend money, my advice you would be used Defender. It's certainly better than nothing. You might also want to use a second antivirus application. Sometimes that can cause problems, both performance issues, as well as they'll conflict with one another. But even those kinds of issues are pretty minimal in today's world.

If you don't use anything else, use Defender. If you're interested in paying for software, antivirus software. I would strongly recommend you take a look at CNET or other sites like ZDnet, or PC magazine where they'll rank these things. But I have no problem recommending to you as a bare minimum, use Defender.

Couple of other things you need to know about antivirus or anti-malware software. Just because you've installed it, you're not done. You need to make sure that it's being regularly updated. Generally speaking, it will be configured so that it will automatically connect to the vendor’s servers and download updates. Because, as I mentioned before, the bad guys are constantly changing their attacks. Unfortunately, they are very creative and very innovative and frankly, very devious and very evil. The antivirus vendors are trying to keep up with this. They're putting out updates to help their products find these new attacks. It's absolutely critical that you regularly update your antivirus software and ideally you will configure it so that it updates itself automatically. Unfortunately, I can't really tell you exactly how to do that. Cause it's going to depend on your particular antivirus software. But you should be able to easily find instructions online, how to do that, or find a nerdy friend like me that can help. But you need to make sure it's updated regularly. You need to make sure it's regularly scanning. Ideally it would be running on the computer at all times, looking for abnormal activity that could indicate some type of malware and will attempt to block that and reverse it.

But it's also a good idea to do a regularly scheduled scan. Ideally. More frequently is better, sometimes that'll cause performance issues while the scan is running, but at least once a week, you ought to have it do a deep scan where it scans the entire computer. Each one, how that works, is a little different, but the idea that it's going to perform a regular scan and look for things to that might not find during regular a daily operation is very important. . You should have Antivirus Software or anti-malware software on every device. It's extremely important. There's a lot of very high quality, a very excellent free antivirus software out there. Again, Windows Defender ships free with Windows 10. Get your endpoint protection or antivirus software on every device that will support it.

If you have questions, you're welcome to look me up on Twitter or LinkedIn. I'm easy to find, and I will be happy to try to provide some additional guidance. But in general, your best bet is ultimately to use a site like or again, ZDnet, PC magazine, other reputable sites, where their experts and their editors are ranking this stuff every year.

Thank you very much. I hope that helped. And if you think I can help feel free to reach out, have a great day.


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