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Is Free Antivirus Free of Benefits?

Is Free Antivirus Free of Benefits?

January 12, 2024

Remember the era when antivirus software, like most computer programs, came packaged in hefty textbook-sized boxes on store shelves? Fortunately, those days are over. Today, there are a myriad of antivirus options available with a very basic Google search. Having so many options can overwhelm someone looking for basic protection for themselves, so today we thought we would look at free antivirus and whether or not it can be an option. 

You often get what you pay for, so there is some built-in skepticism about free antivirus.

On one hand, any software developer can create “antivirus” software. Often, malware disguises itself as "free antivirus" or "free Internet security software" distributed online, often using deceptive ads that give users the illusion that they’ve been breached and the software will remediate the situation. Unfortunately, it only exacerbates it and your system is saddled with malware. Most of these scams mimic established antivirus brands or name-drop Microsoft Windows to appear legitimate, but they definitely cause more harm than good.

On the other hand, there exist genuine free antivirus solutions, either entirely free or offering a basic set of features without cost. These are developed by reputable cybersecurity firms that contribute not only software but also engage in extensive research and investigative work in the realm of information security to stay at the forefront of protection.

Some of these reputable companies, in no specific order, include Acronis, Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, Eset, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Norton, Trend Micro, SentinelOne, and Sophos.

While free antivirus software performs its primary function effectively—scanning files to prevent malware—it lacks some premium features, such as the ever-necessary phishing protection and continuous monitoring. Additionally, these free versions may prompt users to upgrade, constantly. These reminders can get extremely annoying. 

When is free antivirus suitable for your computer or laptop? For personal computers with minimal sensitive data, family home computers, or travel laptops used for entertainment purposes, a reputable free antivirus solution is likely adequate. Conversely, when dealing with sensitive information, online banking, or business-related activities, upgrading to a more robust protection plan is advisable.

Businesses should always avoid free antivirus and consumer-focused premium solutions. They just aren’t robust enough and that can wreak havoc with any organization’s compliance responsibilities. Businesses should choose centrally managed antivirus systems deployed across the network, ensuring every device receives proper protection, updated virus definitions, and additional security services to combat various threats.

Unfortunately, the days of relying solely on antivirus are long gone. Organizations need comprehensive cybersecurity with layers of protection, including active threat monitoring, firewalls, data encryption, phishing prevention, and employee cybersecurity training. Achieving compliance standards while safeguarding your business requires a customized approach. First Column IT technicians can help implement a network security solution that is just right for your organization’s needs. To learn more contact us at (571) 470-5594.

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