Day 7

AntiVirus and AntiMalware Software Apps


DAY 7: AntiVirus and AntiMalware Software Apps

Welcome to Day 7 of my 30 day security challenge, the month long challenge I created to help you gain control of your privacy and security online. You can follow along with the security challenge via my blog at, where you can skip ahead or download a checklist of the challenge. Each video will also be curated into a playlist so it'll be easy to follow along from Day 1 all the way through 30 here on Youtube.

We're gonna have a lil chat about anti virus and malware detection tools. Viruses and malware are these bits of code that could be installed on your computer without you knowing. They could wreak havoc on your machine, or spy on you secretly and send data back to an attacker. It's a worrying scenario, and one to be mindful of. For the longest time, anti virus has been a big thing for the Windows crowd. But lately, that has changed. Many infosec professionals nowadays will tell you that you don't need anti virus on your machine because the free ones will slow your computer down or aren't updated fast enough to deal with the newest malware being distributed. I would have to agree with them... but you have to follow the rest of my 30 day challenge to really make me feel comfortable recommending that.

If you don't feel comfortable turning off your anti virus and just depending on your own good internet hygiene, you should absolutely leave it on. There's many AV software suites to choose from - I like Avast for the folks in my family. But whichever anti virus you choose, ensure that automatic updating is on if available, and make sure it is set to do a scheduled scan as often as possible. I usually set them to run every night after the user goes to sleep.

If you have a newer Windows machine, you could also turn on Windows Defender, which is a built in anti virus straight from Microsoft, the creators of Windows. If you use Windows Defender, you DO NOT need to install another anti virus software app. To turn this on, click Start, Settings, Update and Security, Windows Defender, then enable it. Windows Defender is probably the best option if you don't want to download a third-party anti virus. It's already built in, doesn't slow down your computer, and updates almost daily.

If you choose to not have any anti virus software on your machine, I'd still recommend doing quick scans now and then. You can do this with Microsofts Safety Scanner (link is in the shownotes). It asks you if you're downloading it for a 32 bit or 64 bit computer, so to find out, go to Start, Settings, System, About, then look for "32 bit" or "64 bit". It's probably 64 bit, FYI.

Now, if you've ever had a feeling that your computer been infected before with malware, run MalwareBytes for Windows. The link is in the shownotes to download this, then you can scan your computer whenever you want to make sure its not infected. You don't have to buy it - the trial version is free, just use the free version unless you REALLY think you might get malware.

Moving onto Macs. Many experts in the field will say that you do not need antivirus software on a Mac computer. It is harder for a Mac to be hacked due to it's underlying technical aspects - the fact that it runs on a Unix-based platform allows it to be a sandboxed operating system, which means it's more "firewalled" than a regular Windows machine. But this doesn't mean Mac malware or viruses don't exist. While not as popular as Windows malware, they definitely do pop up now and then, and using proper internet hygiene can save you from a lot of headache. (More on that in a future video).

However, there are antivirus available for Mac machines, free or otherwise. Avast offers a free Anti virus, and Bitdefender offers a purchased one. There are many others to choose from as well, in case you have a different preference. With any of these, you may experience a slight slowdown in performance of your machine, but you should also set up scheduled auto-scans, and make sure the anti virus software is updated on a reoccuring basis.

iPhones are the same way. You will generally find that you don't need anti-virus on an i-device because of how they are built. If you "jailbreak" your phone, which I'm assuming you aren't, then you'd probably want to consider anti-virus depending on your needs.

Android phones are another story. Unfortunately, most android anti-virus apps have been researched to death and found to not be very consistent nor useful with their anti-virus or malware scanning. While Google has been working on improving the security of Android phones, we continually see malware-ridden apps entering the Google Play Store. My advice would be to use very strict judgement when downloading apps, only get them from the Play Store, and check app permissions when you download something. Seriously, a selfie app shouldn't need access to your email. While apps like Sarahah or Meitu are fun and cute, they may also come with a backdoor, collecting information you don't want to share (and yes, I specifically mentioned those because both of them had weird permissions).

Much of the anti-virus spectrum is debatable by folks in the tech community, so I tend to work from my own experiences and by reading recent research and data provided by experts. Use your best judgement when it comes to anti virus picks, and always take it with a grain of salt.

Day 7 is now complete. Congrats!

Tomorrow we'll chat about browser security. But first, make sure to subscribe on youtube and hit up for the downloadable checklist and to skip ahead on the 30 day security challenge. Again, I'm Shannon Morse and I'll see you tomorrow for day 8!

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