I digress – this post is not intended to “scare-you-into-taking-excessive-security-precautions”, actually quite the contrary as you’ll see. A user from Bleepingcomputer forums asks for recommendations for anti-virus software, and gets several thoughtful and informed replies (one of them being a forum moderator). The best way to wrap your head around all the different statistics available is to rely on an independent source – that way there isn’t any conflict of interest or biased opinion. The inevitable conclusion sources like these arrive at is this: there is no such thing as 100% secure.
If you’re thinking about installing two anti-virus programs to hedge your bets, that is a big no-no. More often than not, having two anti-virus applications running will dramatically slow down your computer. In fact, Windows already passively runs (unless disabled) “Windows defender”, which is actually only a few points behind full antivirus suites. If you do end up choosing a free antivirus, Avira, Avast and Malwarebytes have never let me down. For a paid service, many people swear by Bit Defender and Panda. These are all options that you must weigh with their respective pros and cons though. Do you want to pay $40 per year for this software for (perhaps) marginal improvement over free alternatives? Do you have enough memory to run the scans while using the computer at the same time? Are you infuriated by having to add every application, game, or website to a whitelist? You can always do what I did, and just take advantage of the fact that most infections come from hacked websites, drive-by ads, and social engineering by preventing the attack from ever happening.
Several lightweight, free and opensource add-ons/extensions for Mozilla and Chrome are readily available for installation, and they can do just as good of a job keeping you safe with very little effort on the user’s end. They’re called “uBlock Origin”, “NoScript” and “uMatrix”. The latter being the only one which requires a bit of configuration and “whitelisting”, which I cover here. To successfully supplant antivirus software, one must incorporate smart web browsing techniques to evade attacks on the weakest element in computer security – the human element.