Home Antivirus Is Antivirus Software Necessary in 2024? Everything You Need to Know
Krishi Chowdhary Journalist Author expertise
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Is antivirus software necessary? As much as the cybersecurity geek in me wants to shout YES, in truth, the answer isn’t that simple and can depend on the type of device and your usage practices.

Cybercriminals have become more dangerous with time, especially after the AI revolution. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with modern cyberattack methods.

In this article, we’ll discuss whether you need a dedicated antivirus for your devices, and we’ll offer reliable, reputable solutions you should consider using in 2024.

Do I Need Antivirus Software in 2024? The Truth

Yes, you absolutely need an antivirus solution in 2024, especially if you’re using Windows or Android since they’re more vulnerable to malware attacks.

iPhone and Mac users may not, especially if they adhere to best practices and Apple’s security measures and don’t attempt to override them. That said, an extra layer of protection is always recommended, regardless.

Here’s a table highlighting the number of active malware as per the operating system:

Operating System Number of Malware Percentage of Total Malware
Windows 2,564,285 97.32%
Android 63,723 2.42%
Linux 5,919 0.22%
MacOS 943 0.036%

Do You Need Antivirus for Windows 10 and 11?

Yes, you need an antivirus if you’re using Windows 10 or 11. Sure, Windows comes with its own suite of security functions bundled into an antivirus called the Windows Defender.

You get various scanning options, such as Quick scan, Full scan, or Customized scan. Plus, there’s domain, private, and public firewall protection that blocks suspicious websites.

Turn on Windows Defender firewall

Windows Defender has also been doing well in independent tests. The latest AV-Test reports it got a perfect score of 18 — scoring 6/6 on all three parameters – protection, performance, and usability.

This shows that it does a good job as a first line of defense. But is Windows Defender enough?

Is Windows Defender Good Enough? A Recap

Windows Defender doesn’t provide enough protection beyond basic needs. This is why many are looking to use an alternative and turn Windows Defender off.

Modern methods of cyberattacks have become more sophisticated, and Defender hasn’t kept up with these advancements. For example, it lacks:

  • A dark web monitor, so you won’t know if your details have been leaked
  • A robust ad blocker
  • Real-time phishing protection
  • Ransomware protection is turned off by default

Another factor in Windows security is the widespread use of the Windows Operating System. As of June 2024, around 72% of all desktop Operating Systems are Windows.

This naturally makes Windows a target for hackers. Apart from the 90 vulnerabilities patched in the recent update, Windows has over 600 security gaps, 357 of these related to Windows 10.

Related:

Is Antivirus Necessary for Mac?

The age-old myth that Macs are impenetrable has been broken. Malwarebytes reported an 11% detection rate on Mac in 2023.

Similarly, 21 new Malware families have been detected in the same year – a 50% increase from 2022. Today, around 24% of businesses use Mac, and with this increasing adoption rate, macOS malware is also on the rise.

However, Apple is known for its ironclad security architecture, which makes its products more secure than Windows or Android devices.

Mac Sandboxing

Mac’s security features make it almost impossible for malware to get into your system. For starters, Mac’s Gatekeeper will block all apps from developers that have not been approved.

Bypassing this setting and installing an unverified app is an option, but puts you at risk, more so as the Gatekeeper not only scans apps on installation but every time you open them.

XProtect is Apple’s built-in AV solution. It runs in the background like any Mac antivirus and detects and removes known malware. However, it’s not as effective against zero-day threats.

In addition, there’s something called sandboxing, which ensures that each Mac app can only access its own resources and not modify other programs.

This means that even if malware is on your Mac system, it’ll be very difficult for it to spread and corrupt other parts of your device.

Overall, while Mac is safer than Windows, we still highly recommend using a reputable antivirus for your Mac.

Do I Need Antivirus for Chromebook?

Chromebook holds just 1.94% market share, compared to 72.91% for Windows. So, naturally, hackers aren’t as interested, meaning the risk is far lower with Chromebooks, but it isn’t nonexistent.

Chromebooks are still vulnerable to fake browser extensions, phishing, fake apps, and insecure websites. So, we still recommend getting an antivirus for your Chromebook.

While ChromeOS, based on Linux, is considered one of the safest operating systems, where CVE found 1,100+ vulnerabilities on Windows 10, just 55 were found on ChromeOS.

Positively, Chromebooks use sandboxing to prevent apps from accessing resources beyond their needs. Plus, on reboots, it runs a “Verified Boot” to check for resource tampering.

But the threat still exists. If you use Chrome as your primary browser, you may have installed several extensions, which get synced across your devices, including Chromebook.

If you accidentally download a malicious extension, it’ll spread to all devices you’re logged into with the same Google account.

Similarly, side-loaded apps and malicious websites may bring threats to your Chromebook, which may also escape the “Verified Boot” check.

Do I Need Antivirus for Android?

Android devices have Google’s proprietary protection tool, Google Play Protect, which scans the Play Store and everything beyond it to ensure your devices are free of malware.

While this ensures you don’t install malicious apps, it’s easy to enable sideloading (where you download apps from other sources) on Android. Plus, Google Play Protect’s independent test scores aren’t great.

Play Protect Settings

AV-Comparatives tested six antivirus products, including popular solutions Avast and Kaspersky. Google Play Protect displays the highest level of false positives – over 25%.

This means that out of four threats identified by Google Play Protect, one is always a false positive. For comparison, other antivirus solutions exhibit a 0% false positive detection rate.

So, in short, it’s evident that Google Play Protect isn’t enough to secure your Android device — we recommend you get a dedicated Android antivirus solution like TotalAV.

Do I Need an Antivirus for my iPhone?

The short answer is no, you don’t need an antivirus for your iPhone since it is very difficult for a virus to enter the Apple iPhone ecosystem.

Just like Mac, you cannot download apps from unapproved developers on your iPhone. Plus, every app is sandboxed so that it can access only necessary resources.

iPhones have also integrated passkeys to log into websites and apps. Passkeys, which use biometrics, are considered more secure than traditional passwords.

Plus, iPhones have built-in Two-Factor Authentication for apps that require it. Every app installed will also need permission before it can track or share your information or activity.

However, this doesn’t mean that your iPhone can never get a virus. Spam SMS and phishing attempts are still possible. Plus, you may click a malicious link on a website.

iOS security becomes a big problem when you jailbreak your device to gain developer-level access and bypass Apple’s security measures to download apps not on the App Store.

This exposes your iPhone to malware, spyware, and data stealers. So, while the chances of something happening are less than on other platforms, we still recommend it for peace of mind.

The Case Being Made Against Antivirus Software

Some argue that antivirus software is a waste of money and that there’s no real need for it. One of the biggest arguments supporting this statement is the presence of built-in security features.

We find this argument a half-baked truth. While Apple has done a great job in developing a robust security infrastructure, the same cannot be said about Windows and Android.

Windows Defender lacks several modern features, such as a dark web scanner and AdBlocker, that are considered essential in the current cyber security landscape.

Similarly, it’s very easy to sideload apps on Android, and Google Play Protect can do little to ensure complete safety. Plus, Play Protect’s false positive rate is over 25%.

So, we’d say it’s clear that a third-party antivirus is a necessity for Windows and Android devices. That said, while there’s less risk with ChromeOS and Mac, attacks aren’t nonexistent.

At the end of the day, it also largely depends on your own habits. All it takes is to click on a dodgy link, email, or SMS—on any operating system.

What Antivirus Should I Use? The Best Compared

If you’ve decided to get an antivirus, the next problem is choosing one for your device. We’ve compiled a short table with the best antivirus solutions to help you decide quickly:

Antiviruses Best For Detection Rate Starting Price (/month) Free Version Standout Features
TotalAV Real-time threat protection 5.5/6 for performance and protection $29 for the first year Free scan — Web Shield
— Anti-adware
— Zero-day cloud scanning
Norton 100% virus protection promise 6/6 on protection, 5.5/6 on usability, 5/6 on performance $29.99 for the first year A few free tools — Password manager
— Dark web monitoring
— VPN connection
Nord Threat Protection Blocking ads and trackers ❌- No independent tests $3.99/month – 24-month plan 7-day trial on Android — Web tracker blocker
— URL trimmer
— $1M in Identity theft coverage
Malwarebytes Identity protection and insurance 5.5/6 on protection and performance, 6/6 on usability $3.75/month – annual plan 14-day free trial — Rootkit protection
— Phishing protection
— Social media monitoring
Intego Mac antivirus protection 5.5/6 on protection, 6/6 on usability ,5.0/6 on performance $39.99/year 14-day free trial — Two-way firewall protection
— ContentBarrier
— Automatic & scheduled scanning
Avast Free basic protection 6/6 for protection, performance, and usability $2.49/month – annual plan Free plan — Data breach monitor
— Wi-Fi network security
— Ransomware protection
McAfee Family protection 6/6 for protection, performance, and usability $39.99/year 30 days free trial — Real-time identity monitoring
— Secure VPN
— Protection score
TrendMicro Online payment protection 6/6 for protection and usability, 5.5/6 for performance $19.95 Free online scan — Advanced AI learning
— Trend Micro Pay Guard
— Social media privacy
ESET Home security 6/6 for protection, performance, and usability $39.99/year 30 days free trial — Multilayered protection
— Ransomware shield
— Web and email scanning

Editor’s Choice:

TotalAV is one of the best antivirus solutions out there. It provides excellent real-time protection against malware, ransomware, viruses, and other forms of threats.

It also protects you from zero-day threats—new threats where fixes haven’t yet been released. You also get a dark web scanner that’ll alert you if your details are found on the dark web.

TotalAV has also garnered exceptional scores in independent testing. The latest AV-Test reports that it has a perfect 100% score in the “detection of widespread and prevalent malware”.

Other notable features include a WebShield that blocks suspicious websites before they can damage your system. TotalAV works on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices and costs just $29 for the first year.

On its Antivirus Pro plan, which is the basic TotalAV plan, you can protect up to 4 devices. If you choose to upgrade, you also get a VPN and a password manager, and you’ll be able to protect more devices.

Is Antivirus Software Necessary if I have a VPN?

Depending on the product, you may need an antivirus even if you have a VPN, and vice versa, since both of these deal with different kinds of threats.

A VPN secures your online connection and masks your IP address. However, it doesn’t prevent you from downloading malware and threats to your system like an antivirus does.

Thus, you need both a VPN and an antivirus for complete system protection. The good news is that with some services, you won’t have to invest separately in both products.

Many antivirus providers such as TotalAV, Surfshark, and Norton include a secure VPN in their security suite.

Other Best Practices for Staying Safe Online in 2024

Here are some practices that will keep you safe online:

  • Always set strong passwords for your online accounts, and do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Consider using a password manager that’ll help you generate and remember strong passwords.
  • Never enter your banking details on an app or access your banking app when connected to public Wi-Fi.
  • Always keep your devices up-to-date. Do not delay installing security updates, as they contain patches for security vulnerabilities.
  • Always use a VPN when browsing porn or torrenting websites.
  • Do not click on website pop-ups or suspicious links in SMS and emails.

Final Thoughts

An antivirus solution has become essential for complete online security, especially for Windows and Android users, who are more vulnerable to digital threats.

Mac, iPhone, and Chromebook are safer since they come with various built-in security tools. However, they’re still vulnerable to security threats such as phishing, adware, and spyware.

That’s why, regardless of the device type, it’s always a good idea to opt for extra protection. Based on our tests, our top recommendation is TotalAV.

It’s compatible with all ecosystems—Android, Mac, iOS, and Windows—and offers excellent real-time protection from a variety of threats.

Even the most basic plan protects 4 devices and you also get a minimum of 14-day money-back guarantee. Try TotalAV now.

FAQs

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The Tech Report - Editorial ProcessOur Editorial Process

The Tech Report editorial policy is centered on providing helpful, accurate content that offers real value to our readers. We only work with experienced writers who have specific knowledge in the topics they cover, including latest developments in technology, online privacy, cryptocurrencies, software, and more. Our editorial policy ensures that each topic is researched and curated by our in-house editors. We maintain rigorous journalistic standards, and every article is 100% written by real authors.

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi is an eager Tech Journalist and content writer for both B2B and B2C, with a focus on making the process of purchasing software easier for businesses and enhancing their online presence and SEO.

Krishi has a special skill set in writing about technology news, creating educational content on customer relationship management (CRM) software, and recommending project management tools that can help small businesses increase their revenue.

Alongside his writing and blogging work, Krishi's other hobbies include studying the financial markets and cricket.

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