Tech Matters: Why You Can Stop Paying For Antivirus Software | News, Sports, Jobs

The security landscape has changed from malware to data breaches and social engineering – phishing and other manipulative tactics to trick you into voluntarily handing over sensitive data. At the same time, browsers, email programs, and operating systems have tightened their security to protect users. Are you one of the estimated 45 million households in the United States that pay for some type of antivirus software?

Earlier this year, research and review firm Security.org conducted a survey of 841 U.S. households and combined the results with their own software tests, Google Trends, AV-Labs, and other sources to give an overview of who uses antivirus software (free or paid). and why. He has determined the current market to be around $ 1.8 billion and expects that figure to increase as COVID-related scams continue to plague users.

The survey found that 85% of people over 60 are the most likely to use antivirus software, but the difference between the age ranges for 30-44 and 45-60 year olds was no more than two percentage points. Half of antivirus customers pay for protection with an average annual cost of $ 40, and the majority purchased their software before 2018.

There seems to be a mismatch between the perception of what third-party antivirus programs can do and the types of threats the average user (we’re not talking about governments!) Is likely to encounter. The biggest threats most users face come from hackers who can easily adapt to trends, such as increasing numbers of remote workers, and fine-tune their social attacks for better results, such as usage of tax scams in the first months of a new year.

“When I look at all of the personal account compromises I’ve seen over the past three years, I don’t think any of them were caused by malware,” Bob Lord, who revised the strategy Cyber ​​Security Council of the Democratic National Committee for the 2018 and 2020 elections following Russian interference, NBC said in an interview. “They came because the victims had poor password hygiene and didn’t have two-factor authentication on their accounts. “

This doesn’t mean that computer viruses are a thing of the past, but Windows 10 and later computers come with Windows Defender which provides real-time protection against spyware, malware, and other viruses in apps, storage. cloud, email and the web. Coupled with the protection found in all modern browsers, you’re well covered as long as you keep them up to date. And for all that passes, the free version of Malwarebytes should take care of it.

Since hackers primarily target average computer users to break into their personal email, social media, and bank accounts, protection is up to you. Use strong, unique passwords and don’t reuse them for different accounts. If you’re curious about how strong your password is, check out Security.org’s How Secure Is My Password tool. Type in a password and it will tell you how long – from microseconds to years – it would take a computer to crack your password.

Best practice for passwords is 16 characters or more using a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and characters; do not use a sequence containing easily referenced data such as your phone number, date of birth or address; no consecutive letters or numbers; and don’t use a common word or phrase.

Security levels are important, so enable two-factor authentication wherever it is offered. This will require you to receive a one-time code through a second device and enter it to access your account. If you have a computer that uses a biometric ID feature or a phone with facial recognition or fingerprint recognition, activate it and configure your device to lock after a few minutes of inactivity. Starting last September, Microsoft offered its home users the Microsoft Authenticator app, completely eliminating passwords in accordance with its “future without passwords” policy.

Still, you can’t prevent data breaches, so monitor your personal accounts for any unusual activity and take action if Google warns you that your password was found in a data breach. Change any leaked passwords. If you’ve used unique, secure passwords, they’re less likely to allow hackers to gain access to your accounts. Despite what you may have heard (or what your organization requires), it is not necessary to change passwords regularly. The security community recommends changing a password only if the account has been compromised.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for over a decade. As a mother of four, online value, utility and safety come first. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.

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