Which Antivirus Should I Get?

By | December 11, 2015

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The question that many PC users find themselves asking (though it might be the wrong question to ask): which antivirus should I get? Any security specialist will tell you it is far more difficult to prevent or remove threats than it is to create and spread them. There is an actively maintained database of vulnerabilities that you can search, freely available to anyone. For example, a search of “Flash” and “JavaScript” returned over 1,800 results, starting from the turn of the century. Similarly, [a little bird told me], there are around 40 specific highly exploitable vulnerabilities like this, known to many, that still haven’t been fixed. The most threatening scenario is a zero-day (or 0-day) attack, where malicious code is executed on your computer before the vulnerability exploit is made known to the public. This can lower the detection rate from ~90% (link to a recent test in October 2015) to about 50% at best. You can see for yourself that the sheer volume of malware has increased markedly (keep mobile devices in mind) in the last decade – it only takes one infection getting through to compromise a system.

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.

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A snapshot of the previously mentioned Bleepingcomputer thread.

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.

uBlock + Chrome + uMatrix

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.

 

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3 thoughts on “Which Antivirus Should I Get?

    1. transposedmessenger Post author

      Thanks for the suggestion Comodo User! To be fair though, there are hundreds of AV to choose from so I just made mention of what first came to mind. I did not know Comodo offered antivirus software. What do you like about it?

      Reply
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