Protecting your data from malware is as important as ever but do you still need a dedicated antivirus program to accomplish this?
I posed this question to Mike Meyer, formerly Internet general manager at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, and now Chief Information Officer at Honolulu Community College.
It’s Mike’s opinion that with the introduction of Windows 10 one doesn’t need third party software to buttress your security. Microsoft’s built in system, Windows Defender, comes as the default protection in Windows 10. This means that the moment you install Windows 10, your computer is protected, so in my opinion, there’s no need to download and install an anti-virus software.
He likes Windows Defender because, unlike the free software that’s available, it won’t badger you with pop-ups and requests for money. It’s also “lighter” than many of the stand-alone antivirus software and it’s not going to harvest your browsing data and make money from it, which some free antivirus programs may do.
The upshot is that if you keep Windows 10 and your installed software updated, Windows Defender should block malware from infecting your system. Of course if you’re downloading illegal software or hanging around X-rated sites, all bets are off.
Suffice to say Mike is a big fan of Windows 10 but what if you don’t have this software?
He believes if you stay away from places on the Internet where you shouldn’t be, antivirus software is not obligatory. However, he says “for your psychological comfort” there are some companies out there who make excellent products that will keep you secure.
One of the outfits I’m personally familiar with and have recommended to clients over the last few years is ESET, a company that has its roots in what was Czechoslovakia. Founded in 1992, they are not as well known in this country as others but have become a worldwide presence and over 1000 employees.
I installed their latest software, Smart Security 9, on his PC and found it both unobtrusive, with a very small system footprint. That translates as have a very minor impact on the performance of the computer. This is no small matter. Like they used to say in the politically incorrect days, children should be seen and not heard. In a similar vein anti-virus software should be running quietly in the background, rather than being a distraction.
One of ESET’s cool features is a “sandboxed” version of the Chrome browser, which provides an added layer of protection when entering sensitive data such as financial information. Thus when you browse over to your Schwab or Vanguard account, a window pops up telling you that “A secured browser will be launched that provides additional security for banking transactions, credit card numbers and other sensitive personal data.”
For people who spend a lot of time in checking their portfolios or banking, this is a good thing. MSRP for Smart Security 9 is $60 but you can get it on Amazon for $29.98 for a single user version that lasts for a year.
Perhaps the only downside with this program, compared to a feature-packed offering from Norton, is that it doesn’t have a bunch of utilities such as a disk optimizer or cleanup functions. That said, it does its core mission, protecting your data very effectively, at a fair price.
Rob Kay has written about consumer software and gadgets for over 20 years. His columns have appeared in Pacific Business News, the Honolulu Star Bulletin and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.