There are plenty of people who believe computer viruses and malware represent a distant threat they won’t have to face.
“I don’t use the internet much”, they might say. “And I’m always careful when I do.”
However, cyberspace is no respecter of cautious behaviour or periodic browsing habits.
Malware is being reported at record volumes, and cybercrime levels continue to rise with every new set of quarterly data.
So is it possible to manage without any antivirus software?
The threat level depends on the device
Although it’s an urban myth that the software architecture of Apple computers makes them immune to viruses and malware, Macs are certainly less susceptible than Windows PCs.
Equally, Apple’s mobile platform is more resistant to malicious software than its Android rival, with every iOS app vetted thoroughly and housed in a sealed runtime environment.
Even so, no machine is completely safe without some form of protection.
Any device could potentially download a malicious email attachment, access a compromised webpage or be hacked and have sensitive data stolen or logged.
But viruses are generally only capable of targeting one operating system – and it’s usually Windows.
The most recent figures suggest 77 per cent of all malware was aimed at Windows, with barely six per cent targeting Android.
Mobile devices contain a lot of personal information nowadays, but they’re rarely used for major tasks like setting up standing orders or submitting job applications.
Many of the leading antivirus software providers listed on our site only cover desktop platforms, which indicates where the real threat lies.
And though mobile malware is being recorded in record volumes, infection rates fell throughout 2017 according to McAfee, with an accelerated decline in Q1 2018.
Smartphone antivirus software isn’t essential. But it remains desirable, particularly as we become increasingly reliant on mobile devices for daily activities.
So can I get away without antivirus software on a desktop computer?
Unlike mobile devices, where authorised apps conduct most activities, desktop computers rely heavily on web browsers and standalone programs like Microsoft Outlook.
Windows devices dominate every chart depicting malware infections by operating system, but infection rates on Apple Macs also reached record heights this year.
Of the companies featured on our website, only BullGuard and Panda are Windows-specific – every other provider also offers protection for Macs.
Mac OS now comprises ten per cent of the desktop market, and it’s rising all the time.
Criminals are increasingly searching for OS-based flaws and weaknesses, alongside the historically vulnerable Windows platform with its belated (and patchy) security updates.
Because Windows retains almost 89 per cent of the desktop OS market, it’s an obvious target for worms and viruses.
Without AV software, there’s no protection against harmful email attachments, unsafe websites or insecure ecommerce platforms.
Even if you’d rather take the risk and use an unprotected mobile device, desktop computers simply must have antivirus software installed, activated and regularly updated.
The consequences really don’t bear thinking about.