Do You Need An Antivirus On A Laptop?

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  February 12, 2019

Long gone are the days where you only had to be concerned about computer viruses that affected the desktop computer or even the computer network at work. Today, we face viruses, malicious software and hackers, but do we really need anti-virus software on a laptop?

There are those who believe that Just because a laptop is not hardwire connected to the Internet, that there is no security risk.  This is not true, however, as both the desktop computer and a laptop computer are equally vulnerable to viruses, malicious software and brute force attacks.

Just how much security do we really need on our computers today?  There seems to be so much talk about “cyber-security” and threats from everywhere. With so many threats, how can we possibly protect our computers and the data on them?  In this article, we are going to look at what threats are out there, and how we can protect ourselves from those threats.  Additionally, we will look at several things to consider before purchasing security software.

Are Desktop Computers More Vulnerable than Laptop Computers?

If one is connected to the internet in any way, be it by way of an ethernet cable, Wi-Fi, or even via hotspot through your cell phone, your computer is vulnerable.

In fact, it could be argued that laptop computers are even more vulnerable than desktop computers because they can be used in places like coffee shops and airports where there is no Wi-Fi security. 

Hackers are attracted to places where public Wi-Fi is available.

You could be sitting in a coffee shop enjoying your coffee and a cinnamon bun, while the guy at the other end of the restaurant, or even in the building next door, could hack into your computer unbeknownst to you and either place a virus on your computer or steal sensitive information right from underneath your nose, all without you ever knowing what happened.

Today, more than ever, computer security is essential, especially if you access the internet, (or are connected to a Wi-Fi network).  Even if you never launch your web-browser to access the internet, but were connected to your home Wi-Fi, you are vulnerable.  There are just so many ways that viruses can access your computer and it does not matter if you are using a laptop or a desktop computer.

Do I Need Anti-Virus Software?

There are literally thousands of computer viruses out on the internet waiting to infect your computer.  You can obtain a virus by simply visiting a website and clicking on a link, or by downloading a program.  You can even get a virus by opening an attachment in an e-mail that was sent to you, by someone who you know!

Some viruses will intentionally slow your computer down and that’s all.  Other viruses may delete files on your computer’s hard drive without you knowing about it.  Still other viruses can literally erase your computer altogether, at 2:30 in the morning when you are fast asleep.

Viruses hide themselves well.  Sometimes you’ll find them in an e-mail, or in a program that looked innocent when you downloaded and installed it. 

The problem is that you don’t know when or how you contract a computer virus, much like a flu virus.

For example, if you had known that you would contract the flu when shaking hands with a person who didn’t know that they in fact, had the flu virus, you never would have shaken their hands.  On the contrary, you would have walked the other way.

Anti-Virus software addresses all “computer germs” that you may encounter while innocently opening up an e-mail, surfing the internet, or plugging in a USB device.  Anti-Virus software is like a body-guard that everything has to go through before getting to you.

Do you need anti-virus software running on your computer?  Absolutely.  The good news is that Windows already comes with pre-built anti-virus software already enabled on your computer by default.  However, is that good enough?  Read on and we will address that very question.

Is Windows Defender Good Enough?

Windows Defender comes pre-installed with Windows 10, and is much better than its predecessor, “Windows Security Essentials” that was offered as a separate download for Windows 7.

Windows Defender does some really good things, such as 100% protection against zero-day attacks.  A zero-day vulnerability is when software flaw unknown to the manufacturer. Hackers try to leverage that flaw to conduct a cyber attack.  This is what is known as a zero-day exploit.  Another advantage it has over other security software out there is that it only reduces web-browser speed by 4%, whereas the industry average is 10% for all competing security software.

Those are the good things about Windows Defender.  The bad part is that when you install an application, it may not install as fast as it would if it were being protected by other security software.  But how often do you install software?  Probably not that often, and that reason alone is probably not reason enough not to use Windows Defender.

All in all, Windows Defender does a good job.

Given that Windows Defender is free and does not require a subscription plan like almost all other security software out there, it’s not a bad choice, especially for those users who are not really computer savvy.  You simply turn your computer on, and you are protected.

One thing that I really do like about Windows Defender is that it does not really affect system performance that much at all.  However, there is a downside, and it’s a bit of a big one.  I think that Windows Defender is just a little inadequate.  It does not offer an all-inclusive solution like BitDefender, or Kaspersky, or Trend Micro, to name a few.  Windows Defender does great in protecting one from viruses, but what about Malware (malicious software), or protecting your computer from intruders while surfing the internet?

What You Should Look for in Security Software

There are several things that you should consider when purchasing Security software for your Desktop and/or Laptop computer.  To begin, you want to be sure to purchase security software that is all-inclusive.  IN other words,  you want to get a security package that protects you on all fronts, from viruses, malicious software, and protection while surging the internet.

Think of an all-inclusive security software package as a “team”, all experts in their own right.

I like to think of an all-inclusive security software package as a “team” of individual software solutions, all experts in their own right.  For example, the best firewall solution, the best virus protection, the best malware protection, and the list of team members goes on and on.

You want a security solution that offers a layered approach to security, where every part of the “security team” works in conjunction with every other “team member”.  Each part of the software security team works together as a whole to protect your data.  It is this security team that you want to hire (pay for), to protect your interests.  This is what all-inclusive security protection looks like.

A good “security team” that will address all of the following:

Adware

This is probably the most common type of malicious software.  It will display advertisements (usually when surfing the web), that you can’t get rid of, and when you close one, another pop-up will display.  It’s incredibly annoying, and will lead to a terrible user experience.

Ransomware

This is more like kid-napping malware.  Once infected with Ransomware, one or more programs, files, photos, or videos, are encrypted on your computer.  They then try to get you to pay them to free your computer by trying to get you to pay “kidnappers” a fee, usually in BitCoin.  This is personal and leaves one feeling violated.

Viruses

Viruses spread within your computer and from your computer to other computers.  They can cripple your computer or, as I have already mentioned, can completely erase your entire computer, permanently deleting all of your files, documents and pictures.  An Anti-Virus program will prevent these small programs from infecting your computer by completely removing any trace of them.

Trojan Horses

Like the famous story of the trojan horse in the city of Troy, a trojan horse will pretend to be a real software program, when in fact, it’s a fake. It usually is unleashed upon clicking on an .exe file to execute the mission of the trojan horse, which is to open the doors for others like it to infect your computer.

Worms

Real worms (think maggots), devour whatever they can.  They focus on security holes within the operating and exploit any security hole they can find.  What differentiates a worm from a virus, however, is that worms reproduce themselves without you having to click on an .exe file or triggering them. Worms are just nasty.

Spyware

Like real spies, spyware (small software programs that often go undetected), are stealthy in that they gather intelligence about you and report back to their creator, which could be a computer nerd who lives in his mother’s basement, or a government agency from a foreign government.

Rootkits

This is a particularly nasty approach to hacking.  When a hacker infects your computer with this type of malware, it gives the hacker remote access and control over a device on your computer.  This is one reason why people put masking tape over the web-cam on their laptop computer monitor.  When the hacker gets access to a rootkit infected device, they can do all sorts of damage.  They can change settings, destroy files, and the list goes on. Scary stuff.

Web Threats

When you use a web browser to access information on the internet, in effect, “you are leaving home and going out”.  Generally speaking, home is a safe place.  However, daughter’s leaving home to go out on dates, is what keeps Dad’s up late at night.  Internet Security software will protect your from malicious software while surfing, before it has the opportunity to infect your computer.  In other words, it keeps “bad dates” at bay, preventing them from entering into your home, (your computer).

Network Attacks

This type of attack usually occurs in a business.  The malicious software looks for an opportunity to get root access to a device (see Rootkits above), of the network.  The solution here is to employ a firewall on your network.  I know of a network where it brought the business to its knees for over a week.  The solution?  They ended up completely formatting each computer in the company.

Does the security package that you are looking at automatically update your virus definitions, or do you have to manually click a button to update them?  If you leave your computer on, will it automatically scan your computer at a specific time?  Just like the President should not have to tell his security detail what to do and when to do it, so too, the security software that you employ on your computer should not have to be told what to do and when to do it.

One thing that you definitely want to consider is how much of a performance impact the security software will have on  your computer.  All security software will have some impact on your computer, and obviously, the more powerful your computer is, the less you will notice its impact.

What you are looking for is a security package that will have very little impact on how fast your computer boots up.  In fact, it should only take a little longer, (I’m talking seconds, not minutes), than it did prior to installing whatever security software package you decide upon, (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Whatever software solution you choose, it should never get in your way.

Finally, just how fast does it scan your computer?  Does it take forever to scan your computer?   Here’s the thing:  It should never get in your way of getting things done.  Power users are going to notice this more-so than the average computer user.  For example, from the time that I push that power button to the time I see the sign in screen, 15 seconds will have passed.  That’s really good.  But then again, I have a very fast computer.

I so encourage you to read reviews everywhere, of what people are saying about a software package before you purchase it.  Don’t just read what the software manufacturer says about their own product, of course they are going to offer raving reviews.  Google “[name of security software] reviews [current year]”.  See what comes up, and read both the good and the bad.

One final note, before offering a few recommendations.  When looking for a security solution, make sure that they have a good reputation in the industry.  How long they have been around actually does matter, and just because they have been around since 1989, (mmhmmm . . . Norton), does not necessarily mean that they are the best solution out there.

There are several VERY good solutions out there, and they tend to jockey for position each year, and that’s good.  Just make sure that you do your homework before you invest in security software.  It might be a great deal, does that not necessarily mean that it a good security solution.

What Security Solutions Should I Consider?

I will offer two reputable names, but I am not going to thoroughly review them for you.  I’ve just written an entire article on what to look for in choosing a security solution for you.  Apply what I have just written to the following list of reputable names and by all means, read reviews of what other people are saying, and don’t forget to visit YouTube to see what people are saying about the security solution that you are seriously considering.

Mind you, not all reviews are equal . . . at all.  There are a LOT of ignorant people (both on YouTube and even professionals), who are simply telling you what they think you want to hear.  I find Amazon reviews awesome.  The users there tell it straight up.  They tell you what they like about a given product and what they hate about a given product.

Trend Micro Antivirus & Security

I’ve read some very good reviews on this product, and even heard a computer geek from the “Geek Squad” at my local BestBuy rate it as his favorite security software, primarily because it was “light”, meaning that it was not bloated with features and functionality that you won’t use.

BitDefender Total Security 2019

I purchased this security package myself for my own use after having read several reviews from several different sources.  I like that it’s not in my face.  Just like a presidential detail, you don’t really know they are there, and that’s the way that it should be.  Unobtrusive.  It has a very good reputation, and does things quickly, cleaning junk and clutter, protecting me with a firewall, scanning anything I open or install, and protecting me while surfing the internet while letting me do so with its own built-in VPN client.

Conclusion

Do you need an antivirus security program running on your laptop?  Given all of the ways that your personal private information can be attached, and how laptop computers are arguably more susceptible to attack because of their portability, I would have to say that an antivirus security program is essential in today’s world.

As such, there are several things that you should consider when purchasing a software security package for your computer to ensure that you are protected from all threats.  The security software packages of today not only include antivirus software, but also firewall protection, and will protect you while accessing the internet.

Selecting security software from a reputable company that delivers the goods in such a way that you don’t even know is running in the background, is exactly what you want.  If you employ a “security team” on your computer that does its job, you will be well served without the stress of having to concern yourself with security at all, and that’s the point of implementing a security solution.


Related Questions

What Is The Difference Between Free Security Software And The Paid Version?
Free security software will almost certainly offer an antivirus solution, however, it may not be automated, meaning that you will have to manually update the virus definitions.  The free version will promote the options available in the paid version, which are not available until you purchase it.

When Was Norton Anti-Virus First Released?
Norton Utilities was founded by Peter Norton and Symantec bought the brand and began to develop a DOS-based antivirus program in 1989. It was then that they then released their first antivirus product for Apple computers, called, SAM (Symantec Antivirus for Macintosh).

What Was The Most Dangerous Computer Virus Ever?
The ILOVEYOU virus is considered to be one of the worst computer viruses ever. This computer virus found its way into computer systems all over the world, causing an estimated $10 billion dollars in damages.

Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.