9 common antivirus misconceptions explained

Windows Defender
Windows Defender (Image credit: Windows Central)

The volume and complexity of cyber attacks is growing every day. So for everyone who uses the internet, there is an increased risk of being targeted by viruses, malware and other forms of cyber crime. This is where using some of the best antivirus software can really help you out.

Antivirus programs are generally seen as the best way to stay protected from increasing online threats, but they're clouded by various misconceptions that may deter you from purchasing one. We explain some of the common myths surrounding antivirus software.

Some devices are more secure than others

If you use an Apple product or Google Chromebook, you may think that they're more secure than other devices and therefore don't need antivirus. While these manufacturers (and many others) have developed their products with a range of built-in security features, that doesn't mean they still can't be breached by hackers. Regardless of the make or model of your device, it will be at a greater risk of becoming infected with a virus or malware without antivirus installed. The combination of excellent security functionalities and antivirus will make your device more secure.

Antivirus hinders the speed of your device

One of the biggest reasons why many people refrain from installing an antivirus program on their computer or mobile device is because they believe that it'll have a detrimental effect on system performance. While it's fair to say that antivirus programmes will require some harddrive space and will perform regular checks to identify security threats, most modern antivirus software shouldn't result in a slower computer.

As long as you opt for a reputable antivirus solution and ensure you have chosen the correct version for your device, performance shouldn't be an issue. You may also be able to schedule scans to happen during the night or at a time of your choosing, meaning you don't have to worry about your computer slowing down when it's in use. Either way, having an antivirus app installed will protect against viruses that could impact device performance.

Antivirus can make computers faster

Just like some people have claimed that antivirus slows down devices, some have said it can speed up computers. Sadly, you shouldn't purchase an antivirus application thinking that it'll make your computer run faster, as you'll be greatly disappointed. There's no concrete evidence to suggest that antivirus can suddenly make your computer perform quicker - it's just yet another antivirus myth that has been circulating the web. That said, an antivirus app will prevent your computer from becoming riddled with viruses (which would affect device performance). So that's definitely a good thing.

Hackers won't target you

When you see reports of cyberattacks in the news, it's usually large companies or key figures who have been targeted. So it seems logical to think that hackers wouldn't target you if you don't fit into these categories and that you may not necessarily need antivirus.

Unfortunately, while nobody wants to be targeted by hackers, there's always the risk of falling victim to cyber crime if you regularly use the internet. Antivirus software will protect you from viruses, malware and other cyber attacks. Overall, your device will be much safer.

You don't use your computer much

Not everyone spends most of their day browsing the web and using internet-connected services. But even if your internet usage is minimal, that's not to say you shouldn't invest in antivirus protection. At the end of the day, if you own a connected device for accessing the internet, you are still at risk of being hacked and should take appropriate precautions to protect your data. The most effective way to do that is by using an antivirus programme.

Free antivirus is all you need

You'll be inundated with hundreds of options when searching for antivirus programs online, and many of these are free to download. Everybody loves a freebie, but when it comes to free antivirus, some things are just too good to be true. Often, free antivirus applications only have a few basic features. If you use the internet a lot and want to mitigate a myriad of security risks, you're better off going for a premium antivirus. What's also worth mentioning is that many premium antivirus solutions are cost friendly and packed full of excellent features.

You'll only fall victim to viruses by downloading files

Another common misconception is that your device will only become infected with a virus or malware if you download files. While you can indeed fall victim to cyber attacks through file downloads, cyber crime happens all over the internet. From malware that hides in the source code of websites to malicious links in phishing emails, cyber attacks come in all shapes of forms and don't just rely on files. That's why you should always have an antivirus application installed on your device.

You only need antivirus on your PC

Go back a decade or so, you could only really access the internet via a desktop PC or laptop. But with the rise of mobile technology over the past few years, the way people use the internet has changed dramatically. So it's not just traditional computers that require antivirus protection. Whether it's a smartphone or tablet computer, any connected device can be targeted by cyber crooks and is much safer with antivirus. Most popular antivirus providers offer applications for different devices and operating systems, rather than just PCs and laptops.

Antivirus software is limited to a select few viruses

If you've been reading up on antivirus software, you may have come across claims suggesting that it'll only protect against certain viruses. But that's not necessarily true, with the vast majority of antivirus programmes capable of identifying and mitigating a range of different viruses, malware and cyber attacks that are both already known and emerging. You shouldn't worry about a reputable antivirus solution being unable to protect you from different online threats.

It's fair to say that there are a lot of misconceptions about antivirus applications, and as a result of these, many people may be put off purchasing antivirus. Realistically, antivirus software is a must-have for anyone who uses internet-connected devices and who wants to protect themselves online.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020

This antivirus monitors your computer in real-time to stop malicious files before they have a chance to start downloading.

Nicholas Fearn