Are antivirus firewalls still needed in 2020?

Whether you're a family or a business, protecting your digital assets and devices has never been more important. According to the University of Maryland, hackers attack every 39 seconds — on average 2,244 times a day. It should come as no surprise that protecting yourself with one of the best antivirus software solutions is a must these days.

When trying to sieve through cybersecurity jargon, words such as antivirus and firewall often come up when selecting a product to help protect against threats. However, are firewalls still really needed with the antivirus solutions out there?

Antivirus and firewalls work in unison

Rather than having one or the other, security products work best together rather than alone. A former cybersecurity expert who once pushed digital defence at the Houses of Parliament, Scott Lever likens the two security products to protecting a castle. "Antivirus protects computer endpoints where firewalls protect the perimeter." However, he emphasizes that they are just part of a multi-layered cybersecurity and privacy setup that everybody needs.

Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, concurs, explaining that firewalls and antivirus software have specific jobs: "A firewall will not keep all malware at bay, but it does limit outside network access to a computer or local network by blocking or restricting ports.

"However, some malware and viruses can bypass firewalls and be executed, so antivirus will step in and protect users before any damage is done," he continues.

Firewalls keep our connected life safe

The increasing use of connected devices also means there are more entry points for hackers to get into. The Internet of Things (IoT) has meant that phones can connect to devices such as laptops, televisions and even washing machines and toothbrushes. Peter Bassill, CEO of Hedgehog Cyber Security, believes that together, security products will protect from random scripts and automated attacks. "The firewall, if correctly configured and used, will protect you from the random scripts and automated attacks."

He adds that with the continual rise of ransomware, antivirus will provide users another layer or protection to keep information and data safe and secure. For those who have different operating systems across their devices, Bassill says that it's never been more important to have both an antivirus and firewall regardless.

What is the best security product in the market?

When it comes to the best solution for your whole family, the McAfee Total Security offers various security features for everyone. Unlike other solutions, McAfee offers both antivirus and firewall features plus ID theft protection, parental controls and more. It's also compatible across different devices so could be a good fit if you have Windows, Android, iOS and OSX systems.

It has safe browsing features to stop malicious files from downloading, including gaming sites and the firewall keeps an eye on all internet communication coming and going. Out of 100 test samples conducted by Windows Central, this software package earned an average protection score of 95%, scoring better than the average 92%.

However, it is a bit pricey so might be over-budget for those trying to save money. It can also cause lag on mobile devices, though seemingly not on laptops.

McAfee Total Security

McAfee Total Security

McAfee includes parental controls for tracking online activity, setting time controls, and blocking dangerous content.

Jared DiPane

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.