Is Antivirus Software Necessary in 2022?

The rate at which viruses get created in the modern era may terrify you. Here’s how antivirus software can help.
Patti Croft, Author
Catherine McNally, Editor
Last updated May 23, 2022

If you’ve been on the fence about whether antivirus software is necessary for your new devices, you’ve come to the right place. Many people don’t want to pay extra for virus protection after spending premium amounts for new technology.

We know getting antivirus software can be expensive. Unfortunately, most devices don’t have adequate protection available. That leaves your brand new system vulnerable to hackers. Case in point: In 2021, around 50 million people had their health care data breached by hackers. If this statistic seems scary, keep reading to learn why you still need antivirus software, how it protects you and your loved ones, and whether you can avoid paying high prices by using free antivirus programs.

In this article
Is antivirus software necessary?
How does antivirus software protect your device?
Is built-in antivirus software enough?
Is free antivirus software still good?
FAQs
Bottom line

Is antivirus software necessary?

Antivirus software is necessary even in 2022. When you invest in antivirus software protection, you are ensuring your sensitive information remains private. You can think of it as a shield that surrounds all your critical data.

Most iPhone users don’t have issues with virus attacks, but all other operating systems and smartphones need protection. Many viruses can inflict incredible damage to your devices. Over 6,000 new viruses get created every month. With so many unwanted programs out there, you don’t want to be vulnerable to a cyber attack.

Are computer viruses still a threat?

Just as there are old viruses that many users have experienced, there are new viruses and malware released every day. As one fades out, another one takes its place.

Another issue with viruses is that they can spread before you even know they are present. A computer virus is like an illness to your device. It goes throughout the system, causing destruction everywhere it touches. Many of us use external hard drives or flash drives for storage. A virus can spread to these like a disease spreads throughout the human body.

These computer viruses run rampant through programs and files. The instructions for the computer virus get set up in code. The code gets carried throughout the computer when the infected program gets booted or launched.

Some viruses get programmed to infect by certain triggers. These can be specific functions, dates, or other events. Imagine typing along on your keyboard and entering your wedding anniversary or birthday on a form. Once you type the number, your computer freezes and nothing you do fixes the problem. That is an example of how a virus can get triggered by a date or number.

There have been different viruses created in 2021 and this year as well. The table below illustrates how quickly new viruses present themselves and wreak havoc on any device or operating system.

New malware by operating system in 2021 and 2022

Operating system New malware in 2022 New malware in 2021
Windows 30.53 million 116.85 million
Android 599,258 thousand 3.33 million
macOS 16,809 thousand 2,741 thousand

If you’re an Android user and think you have enough security because you have Google Play Protect, you could be wrong. It works by removing malware from the Play Store, so you may still download malware accidentally. Google Play Protect won’t necessarily keep malware from breaching the store.

We must also think of the number of internet sites that exist today. There are more than ever before. Most sites, including social media, mean more chances to stumble on a nasty virus. When you go online unprotected, you are taking a serious risk every time. No matter how safe and responsible we try to be, there are always threats like ransomware, identity theft scams, and other malicious software lurking on the web.

How does antivirus software protect your device?

Antivirus software works by scanning your computer files and hard drive. It also checks the programs on your computer. As the software runs the scans, it looks for any suspicious behavior.

Antivirus quarantines infected files

If the antivirus software finds malware or viruses present, it will give you the option to remove or quarantine the offensive files. Most antivirus programs will allow you to automate scanning and run manual scans at your preference.

Some antivirus programs block remote access

Some astute hackers know how to gain control of your devices remotely. They create a backdoor into your computer that gives them access without you knowing. Some antivirus applications come with premium features that will block remote access.

Antivirus lets you run apps in a sandbox

There are multiple new apps available for use. Some may look suspicious at first glance. You can get antivirus software that will let you run these apps in a “sandbox” so they won’t affect your other programs and files. The new apps get held away from your other apps until scanned.

Look for antivirus with permanent file deletion

When you buy an antivirus software program, you may want the benefit of permanent file deletion. Many people delete old files that contain sensitive data. Sometimes you might forget that putting a document in the recycle bin does not permanently delete it. That could be detrimental if you decide to sell your device or throw it away. Someone else could see the files you thought got destroyed.

Is built-in antivirus software enough?

Most devices will come with a trial version of antivirus software preloaded. Some of these trials last for a specific time frame and end afterward unless you pay to extend it. Still, the built-in antivirus software that gets pre-installed on your device may not be enough.

Most built-in antivirus software programs offer minimal protection. When you consider how much damage a virus can do, you may want more from your antivirus application.

Preloaded antivirus software may not provide endpoint protection or remediation, which businesses need. If an organization receives a cyber threat, endpoint protection or remediation will contain it. Additionally, you most likely won’t get software that blocks against adware or potentially unwanted programs.

Some free antivirus software also only offers on-demand scanning. That means you essentially must remember to run scans to check for malware or viruses. If you forget, you could have a virus that replicates itself throughout your computer system. Once you realize what has happened, it could be too late to stop it.

If you’ve purchased a device recently, the chances are good that you are either using the Windows 10 operating system or macOS. These are the two most popular systems available.

If you use a device that has Windows 10, it will come equipped with Windows Defender security software, also called Windows Security. A newer Mac computer will have the macOS operating system. It comes with XProtect antivirus software built-in. Apple designed this software to run in the background so that the user has nothing extra to do. It scans without you noticing any changes. When you purchase your new device, you may not understand how the built-in antivirus software works or what it protects.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus and Firewall

Microsoft Defender Antivirus claims real-time protection against malware, viruses, and spyware. The software looks for threats in email, apps, cloud storage, and the web. To get endpoint protection for Windows 10, you would need to buy Defender for Endpoint. Also, if you have an older version of Windows, you will not be able to use Windows Defender. For new versions of Windows, you will get Windows Defender Antivirus and Windows Defender Firewall¿ pre-installed, but you will have to go through a few steps to enable it.

To assess threats, Microsoft recommends running Defender Vulnerability Management. This program is supposed to protect against data breaches and predict the likelihood of them happening. One of the shortcomings of Windows Defender is that it has some trouble blocking phishing attacks.

macOS XProtect antivirus

XProtect is the built-in antivirus software that Apple designed to run in the background while users work. The problem is that this does not block potentially unwanted programs that can sneak in without the user knowing. XProtect also won’t block adware, so some malware can still get by it and bog down the device.

Is free antivirus software still good?

Some people argue that free antivirus software is the way to go because it can work as well as anything else. You should remember that not all antivirus software systems are created the same. Also, depending on your operating system, the one you choose may not work at all. There are specific antivirus software programs designed to work with Windows and some are for macOS only.

We don’t discourage the use of reputable free antivirus software programs. Avast, AVG, and Bitdefender are some of the more popular options. Having more protection is certainly not a bad idea. In addition, free antivirus software can be a foundation for a more premium antivirus program. That alone can make using a free program worthwhile.

Free antivirus options likely protect one device. The average user has multiple devices, and this would force a choice to get made. You would need to decide which device you need to protect the most.

Many free antivirus options come with a time window. You can use them for a limited time, usually 30 days. Then, you will need to buy the license or forfeit coverage.

Some programs also change your computer’s default functions, which can be annoying to say the least. Many free antivirus software programs will install bloatware you may not want or need. These can contain offers to buy other programs, and ads will pop up at inconvenient times.

As a user, the best antivirus software you can get will give you all the protection without the unwanted issues that come with free programs. You can get a solid antivirus software platform that is affordable and gives you much-needed peace of mind.

Many subscriptions offer annual pricing and discounts when you pay for extended periods. Some also come with extra features that give the user more value for their money. Having the flexibility to choose a tailor-made option appeals to many users.

You can purchase antivirus software that will update all the apps on your device. That is crucial because some apps become outdated and can pose security threats. Updating apps can lessen the chance of virus vulnerability.

FAQs


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Do I need antivirus for Windows 10?

Yes, it is advisable to get an additional antivirus software package for Windows 10. With more malware created all the time that targets Windows operating systems, more protection is better than the basic coverage you may have with Windows Defender.


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Is antivirus necessary for Mac?

Contrary to popular belief, Macs can get viruses, too. While most Mac users consider the device safer than others, malware has increased by more than 60 percent in 2020. Although Macs may seem the safer option regarding threats of malware and viruses, they may benefit from extra antivirus protection.


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Is antivirus necessary for Android?

The Google Play store can get malware. Because of this, we recommend antivirus protection for Android users. Otherwise, you could download an app that infects your android device. Some malware looks like a genuine app you might choose to download. These can compromise your device.


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Is antivirus necessary for the iPhone?

iPhone users may be the exception when it comes to antivirus software. This is the case because the Apple iOS system does not allow apps into the App store before getting checked for potential threats. That leads to extremely minimal chances of iPhone users needing extra virus protection.

Bottom line

Although technology is always evolving, many are hopeful we won’t need antivirus software one day. We have not reached that day in 2022. With so many threats floating around and more malware created every day, you need antivirus software to safeguard all of your devices.

You never know when you could make your computer susceptible to the next bit of malware. Internet searches, traveling with your device, and opening emails can pose potential risks. Keeping your devices secure requires antivirus software that meets your specific needs.

If you have children that use any of your devices, getting an antivirus software program is a good decision, as they are often the target of internet scams. Children also don’t know much about internet safety. Extra protection may make parents feel more comfortable with their loved ones using devices online.

Is antivirus software necessary? If you want to know that your personal information is safe and all your data stays secure, then yes, it is imperative.

There are tons of antivirus applications available for users. What you choose will depend on factors like the number of devices you have and product features you may want. Many offer advanced settings that can give you options to run scans manually and at automated times. Look through some of the highest-ranking antivirus software options to see which ones work for your budget and security needs. Check out our website for more on which antivirus software programs could offer the best protection for you.

Author Details
Patti Croft
Patti Croft has a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and an MBA. She's also a Certified Health Data Analyst through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Patti worked in Information Technology for 16 years and loves everything tech and gadgets!