Cyberthreats are more dangerous than ever. Back in the day, malware attacks were a small nuisance that slowed down computers. But nowadays, they have the ability to lock up files and demand money from victims, which could shut down small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in California for good.
Why are free antivirus programs risky?
Antivirus software is essential to keep your systems protected from malware such as viruses, ransomware, worms, Trojan horses, and the like. When picking out antivirus software, you have two choices: paid or free versions. While SMBs would typically pick the latter to save money, there are many downsides to free antivirus software that they should consider.
#1. Fewer features
Free antivirus software only provides basic features, such as protection from common malware and internet threats.
For instance, free versions usually do not offer advanced firewall systems and identity theft protection. These features are useful in a time when data breaches and malware attacks are common. Without them, businesses are more likely to get infected with new types of malware.
#2. Data collection
There’s a saying that “nothing in life is free,” and it rings true with antivirus software. Some free antivirus programs collect data from their customers and sell them to third-party companies to make money.
One company caught doing this is Avast antivirus. In January 2020, the popular antivirus firm was found recording users’ online behavior. The data included people’s browsing history, searches, and clicks, which was sent to Avast’s subsidiary Jumpshot for…
#3. Targeted ads
Jumpshot then used people's internet activity to create targeted ads. The way these ads work is if, for instance, you are constantly searching online for vegetarian food, the advertisements you will see will focus on that search term.
While this may be helpful for some, targeted ads have long been under scrutiny for privacy invasion issues. It’s safe to assume that the user didn’t sign up for targeted ads when downloading an antivirus program, unless they read the fine print.
Data collection and targeted ads are also risky for businesses because of the possibility of data theft, which could be costly.
#4. Slow scans
Antivirus programs take up a portion of your RAM while they are running, and may consume more during virus scans. If you often use your computer for resource-intensive tasks such as video editing and spreadsheets, your antivirus may slow down your system and make your computer hard to use.
Some free antivirus software are also inferior to paid versions when it comes to detecting malware. Studies have shown that paid antivirus applications perform better than free variants, which is crucial if you want dependable malware protection.
#5. Poor customer support
Users of paid antivirus software get better customer support compared to those who use free ones. While some manufacturers may offer support, it is limited to basic troubleshooting, knowledge bases, and message boards.
Just think: would you be willing to search for answers on your own compared to paying a fee and getting real-time customer support? While you may find some solutions online, not all issues can be resolved.
What’s the best antivirus option for my business?
If the use of free antivirus programs is risky, how should you protect your business from malware and other threats? Using a paid antivirus is nonnegotiable, as it gives you access to more features that can secure your business.
For instance, ransomware protection ensures that even if one of your employees accidentally clicks on a malicious program, your files would stay secure. Advanced firewalls can also prevent hacking attempts by cybercriminals.
But cybersecurity isn’t just about using the best antivirus software. It’s also important to educate your employees about staying safe online. Teach them to stay away from potentially unsafe websites and avoid opening links and attachments they don’t recognize. This way, your IT systems become less likely to contract malware.
You can also partner with a reliable managed IT services provider (MSP) like USWired. We won’t just protect your San Jose business from malware, but we will also proactively monitor and maintain the integrity of your IT infrastructure 24/7/365. Plus, our services cost less than paying a full-time IT staff. If you’re looking for the best guidance on how to stop malware, download our FREE eBook today then schedule a consultation with us.