Is Antivirus software a waste of money?

Computer security experts often scoff at consumer security products. They point out that consumer level security software is no match for a dedicated hacker.

Are computer security experts just justifying high incomes by positioning computer security beyond the realms of the average home user, or are they fundamentally right? If consumer security products don’t work, should people even bother to purchase and install them?

There’s no point in sugar coating it. The computer security gurus are essentially correct. If you are specifically targeted by cyber criminals, and you are reliant on consumer security – you’re in trouble. The good news for most people reading this blog is that they are not “high value targets” and are not going to be targeted by dedicated cyber criminals. Simply put, they’re not worth the investment in hacking time.

All security is about risk management. The level of investment we make in security should be appropriate for the risk we face. For most consumers and small businesses, the main threats they face are from non targeted malware. So the real question is – how well do consumer security products protect you against these threats.

The answer is – surprisingly well. This US PC Mag test shows the results from a range of 2012 security products. I was surprised how well they did. The results more than justify the relatively minor investment in these products. Even some of the free products do well.

But if you follow that link, you will see that no product was 100% effective in every test.

At any given time, each product will have malware that it misses. This is why it is important for people to remain vigilant. It is possible for your computer to become infected even if you have security software. If you think this might be you, run one (or better still – more than one) of the remote scanners listed on NetSafe’s website.  netsafe-netbasics-logo

And importantly, computer security isn’t just about security software. This is another area where security experts despair – because consumers are more often tricked by simple ruses than “hacked” in traditional terms. For this reason, NetSafe developed the NetBasics which looks at both the technical and non-technical aspects of security.

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