In the current economic climate getting anything for free is a bonus as we are all looking for ways to pull our belts in. But when it comes to cyber-security free antivirus software is not enough to protect our systems from the cyber threats we are bombarded with daily.
Free antivirus software is better than nothing as it does scan your device for common viruses, removes malicious files and blocks threatening apps and files but when we think about how we are currently using our home computer systems, making savings on security is not the best decision.
On our home systems we browse the internet, use social media, do online shopping, online banking, make financial transactions, update our house and car insurance and deal with our children’s schools. Now think about all the data that is going through your home system to carry out these transactions; financial, address, dates of birth, banking details and personal details. How much of this would you want to be compromised and sold on the dark web?
Now, let’s think of those home users who run their own business or are working from home. Whilst your place of employment may have provided hardware, how often have you sent emails, or accessed material on a personal laptop or PC which should have gone through the business network? How much of that data is sensitive? What would happen to your business if your client data was hacked?
These are sobering thoughts.
Whilst we are very careful with home security, not leaving the house without checking windows and doors, we are often a little more slapdash with our cyber security – going for the minimum protection even though our devices hold enough data to ruin our businesses and our lives if it got into the wrong hands.
Many think that they are too small (whether as a business or an individual) to be attractive to a cybercriminal. But think again.
All data has a value, and if the cyber criminal makes a few hundred pounds or thousands it’s all money. In 2020 it was thought that one in every 3,722 emails was a phishing attempt in the UK. Add to that, one small business is hacked every 19 seconds, with more than 65,000 attempts at hacking small businesses every day.
Free vs paid antivirus software
If you are relying on free antivirus software it is worth noting that they offer fewer features than a paid for version. There are two core features of free software:
- Scanning – to scan your device for viruses and malware and deleting it before it can embed itself in your machine.
- Real-time protection – the software will scan your system constantly blocking ransomware and malware as soon as it hits your PC.
This is the bare minimum when it comes to cyber security and will only be sufficient for light users who are not processing any sensitive data – and that includes payment and financial details.
However, to add extra layers of protection to your devices a paid for software service will offer more features designed to keep your devices and your data safe. These include:
- Password Manager – These provide unique, strong passwords meaning your systems will be safer than using the same password for multiple devices and applications as many users do.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A VPN will encrypt any data travelling over your network, masks your IP address and makes it more difficult for your activity to be monitored.
- Internet of Things Protection – Smart homes today mean there are many more ways for cyber criminals to enter the network: through your smart kettle, your electronic doorbell or your Alexa for example. Adding extra protection for this new technology blocks another route of access.
- Firewall – A firewall is an important part of the defence against cybercrime, and paid software offers an upgraded version which monitors all incoming traffic, blocking malware, phishing and virus attempts.
- Multi-device – A paid antivirus solution will protect not only your home PC, but smartphone, laptop and other devices under one account, ensuring you are safe regardless of where you are accessing the internet from.
Cyber attacks are on the rise, and the SonicWall 2022 Cyber Threat Report shows that in 2021 encrypted threats had risen by 167%, ransomware by 105%, intrusion attempts by 11% and Internet of Things Malware by 6%. In 2022 these threats are only likely to keep rising, and as we use more smart technology we will be more at threat if we don’t start taking cyber security more seriously.
If you are still using free-antivirus software solutions but don’t really know how to upgrade and what you should be looking for give the team at Security Everywhere a call today for a no-obligation chat about how to keep your IT systems safe.