Skip to content

Do I need antivirus software in 2024?

woman using laptop

Worried about malicious software harming your device? Find out if antivirus software can help.

In an age where our lives are increasingly intertwined with the digital realm, the internet has become a central hub for work, entertainment, and social interaction.

While the benefits are manifold, this digital dependency also opens the door to a host of risks.

Malicious software, or malware, can wreak havoc on your system, compromising your personal data and the performance of your device.

This is where antivirus software steps in as a digital shield, but is it still the stalwart protector it once was?

The evolution of antivirus software

There was a time when antivirus software was the go-to solution for anyone venturing into the online world.

It was seen as an essential layer of defence against the myriad of cyber threats lurking in the shadows.

However, as technology has advanced, the role of antivirus programs has come under scrutiny.

Smart technology has become more adept at managing risks, and in some cases, antivirus software can even be counterproductive, giving users a false sense of security.

Weighing the pros and cons

The question remains: do you really need antivirus software today? To answer this, let's delve into the advantages and disadvantages of employing such software on your devices.

Our aim is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding, enabling you to make an informed decision about your cybersecurity needs.

What is antivirus software?

At its core, antivirus software is a program designed to protect your computer and other devices from viruses, worms, trojans, and other forms of harmful software.

It works by scanning files and applications for patterns and behaviours that are characteristic of malware.

When a potential threat is detected, the software takes action to neutralise it, often by quarantining or removing the offending file.

How malware finds its way in

Malware can infiltrate your system through a variety of channels. It might hitch a ride on a file you download from the internet, sneak in from an infected USB stick, or exploit vulnerabilities on websites that lack proper security measures.

Once inside, it can cause a range of problems, from annoying pop-ups and slowed performance to more serious issues like data theft and system failure.

Is antivirus software safe?

When sourced from reputable brands, antivirus software is generally safe and designed to operate without causing disruption to your device.

However, it's important to be aware of the limitations of antivirus solutions. They are not infallible and cannot protect against every type of online threat.

For instance, they may not guard you against sophisticated phishing attacks or scams that rely on social engineering.

Generally speaking, antivirus can’t protect you from those, so you still need to keep your guard up.

Our page on keeping safe from scams goes through some of the common ones to watch out for.

If you think your personal details have been stolen, our page on protecting yourself against identity theft goes into more detail.

Do I need antivirus software?

The necessity of antivirus software largely depends on your online habits. If you frequently download content from unofficial sources or visit unregulated websites, antivirus software can provide an additional layer of security.

However, for the average user who sticks to well-known, secure websites and downloads, the need for antivirus software is diminishing.

Modern operating systems come equipped with their own security measures that often mirror the functionality of antivirus software.

Keeping your system updated with the latest security patches is crucial. For those using devices that are over five years old and may not support the latest updates, antivirus software can serve as a vital safety net.

Which brands offer antivirus software?

Several companies have built their reputations on providing robust antivirus solutions. Among the biggest names in the industry are:

  • Norton
  • McAfee
  • F-Secure
  • Kaspersky
  • K7

Additionally, some broadband providers, such as BT and Virgin Media, offer antivirus software – either free with your plan or as an add-on for an extra charge.

Is Windows Defender enough to protect my device?

For many users, Windows Defender — the built-in security feature of the Windows operating system — provides sufficient protection for everyday internet use.

However, for those who engage in riskier online activities or want an extra layer of security, investing in dedicated antivirus software may be a wise choice.

  • Is it still necessary to get a TV licence?

  • What is full fibre broadband?

  • What is a good broadband speed?

  • Moving Broadband to a New Home

  • BT vs EE broadband: which is best?

  • EE broadband and phone deals May 2024

  • Is it still necessary to get a TV licence?

  • What is full fibre broadband?

  • Moving Broadband to a New Home

  • Can I get Virgin Media in my area?

  • BT broadband routers

  • Shell Energy broadband routers

Compare broadband, TV & phone deals
if (siteConfig.Is("moneysavingexpert")) { } else if (siteConfig.IsMoneySuperMarketTheme() || siteConfig.Is("muuvo")) { } else { } Exclamation In Circle