An antivirus suite is undoubtedly one of the safest ways to protect your system, data, and online identity. It offers protection against virus and malware attacks, especially those carried out by less experienced hackers.
However, as cyber attacks become more sophisticated, antivirus alone is no longer enough. The threat landscape is evolving so dramatically that antivirus software can’t really keep up.
Although you should definitely be running an antivirus and malware suite, here are some reasons it won’t protect you on its own.
The growing number of new threats
Typical antivirus software can effectively protect against most known threats. However, you have to take care of the new and unknown threats. Accordingly AV test, over 450,000 new malware and potentially unwanted applications are registered every day. With such a large number of new malware strains, it is unrealistic to pin all your hopes for protection on one antivirus suite alone.
Installing an antivirus program is not enough, as security vendors must first figure out how a particular malware works before they can customize the software to identify and neutralize it. Malware authors are aware of this and release new threats to avoid detection.
Phishing is a social engineering attack commonly used to collect login credentials and credit card numbers. The attacker typically poses as a trusted entity, specifically a company or bank, and trick users into clicking a malicious link.
Unfortunately, there is very little an antivirus suite can do to protect you from the many phishing attacks (although many downloads scan automatically). Spam filters can mitigate phishing emails, but they cannot keep them out completely. It’s best to avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from a company you do business with.
Delete emails with malicious links without reading them, as some attackers can even embed pixels in their emails that will let them know when you read the message. This tells them they have a legitimate address to try again or sell to other scammers.
Malvertising is a form of cyberattack launched from online ads on legitimate websites. Cyber criminals launch malvertising attacks by buying ad space on networks and then delivering ads containing malicious codes. When a user clicks on the ad, it loads and infects your PC before you can detect and remove it.
Browser-based attacks usually happen due to cloned websites and malicious extensions or add-ons. A cloned website is a duplicate of the original website with identical file names and content as the original website.
Always verify that you are on the website you are on before entering your credentials. Check for typos in the URL as most scammers use typosquatting to register domains very similar to other popular domains.
While some antivirus programs provide ad blocking and URL checker tools, it’s fairly accepted that they can’t prevent sophisticated browser-based attacks. Therefore, always install add-ons from credible developers and keep your browser updated to get all security patches.
Besides an antivirus suite, what else do you need?
Although we recommend using antivirus software as part of your cybersecurity strategy, relying on one piece of software for protection is not a good idea. Here are a few more tools you can use to keep the bad guys out of your network.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an essential privacy protection tool. It encrypts your data online and reroutes it through a secure server hosted by the provider. VPN encryption means nobody can read or use your data without an encryption key, even if they intercept it. An encryption tunnel is created for this purpose.
Aside from encrypting data, a VPN masks your real IP address and replaces it with an IP of your choice, making you virtually untraceable. There are both free and paid VPNs on the market, but the free services usually have data and bandwidth caps that limit user experience.
We recommend a premium service for comprehensive protection on PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to protect your online accounts. With 2FA, your protection goes beyond a username and password, as you need something like an app to approve requests.
When using 2FA, a potential single factor compromise will prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your account. Even if you lose your phone or password, the chances of someone else accessing your account are negligible.
We use countless websites and services that require a username and password. Managing and remembering all of your login credentials can be difficult if you don’t use a password manager.
Many people are tempted to use the same password across multiple websites and services, but it poses a serious security threat. If hackers crack one of your passwords, they try other services and steal your accounts.
A password manager automatically creates a new and strong password for each account and stores it in a secure vault. It’s fully encrypted, so even if a hacker bypasses your malware protection, they can’t recover your passwords.
If you’re not sure how to organize your password manager vault, fear not: it’s pretty easy to keep it nice and tidy.
As they say, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In the unfortunate event of a virus attack or data leak, you should be able to restore your files and operating system to its original state.
Backing up your data is the surest way to ensure you are proactive about data security. We recommend routinely making copies of critical information that can be used to restore the original data.
Although you can back up individual files manually, it’s better to automate the process so that no files are missed and the backup is performed regularly.
Never compromise on online security
The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and a simple antivirus suite is no longer enough to protect you from new threats. Even paid antivirus tools consistently don’t stand a chance against sophisticated phishing scams and identity theft.
For complete protection, you need a VPN, two-factor authentication, and full system backups. You also need to regularly check your system and network for cyber hygiene and develop a prevention strategy tailored to your needs.
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