Do I Need An Antivirus?

It really depends which device you're using

Image of a person selecting holographic security image

 sarayut Thaneerat\Getty Images

With the latest version of Windows 10 including Windows Defender, you may find yourself asking, "Do I need an antivirus in Windows 10?" The answer is a resounding yes, regardless what computer you may be using. Every device needs extra antivirus protection. However, iPhone and Chromebook are exceptions to that rule.

Why Do I Need an Antivirus in Windows 10

The simple reason you need antivirus software on Windows 10 is that regardless what default security protections come with Windows 10, adding an extra layer of security software will only bolster your safety and privacy.

Windows Defender offers good protection for Windows 10, but there are a number of limitations.

Screenshot of Windows Defender main screen

Windows Defender falls short in the following ways:

  • Not as good at detecting malware as most antivirus apps
  • Many forms of malware specifically target Windows Defender
  • Infected file detection is inconsistent
  • Full scans slow down your computer
  • Very limited features
  • Browser security is focused only on Microsoft Edge

With a limited detection rate, it's critical to install additional antivirus software to catch any malware or viruses that Windows Defender may miss.

If I Have a Firewall Do I Need An Antivirus?

Many people believe that the Windows Defender firewall is sufficient protection against any threat their Windows 10 computer may face.

The reality is that firewalls are not intended to block viruses or malware. The main purpose of a firewall is to stop certain types of network communications.

Screenshot of Windows Defender firewall

For example, if a hacker is running a port scanner on your network to try to find computers with vulnerable "open" ports, any computer that isn't running a firewall will likely be vulnerable.

This is because a firewall only allows communication into and out of your computer for specific software. Any other application that attempts to communicate will be blocked.

This means a firewall is an excellent first line of defense. However, you can still get a virus via the following sources:

  • Clicking on a spammer's email attachment
  • Clicking on a social media ad that takes you to a malicious website
  • Downloading infected software from the internet

Since a firewall won't prevent your computer from getting infected under these circumstances, installing antivirus software is critical.

Do I Need an Antivirus On My iPhone or Android?

Hackers specifically target different devices when they write virus software. However, smartphones are unique. If you use your iPhone or Android out of the box without altering it in any way, the likelihood of getting a virus is very small. This is even without antivirus software.

iPhones don't need antivirus software. iPhones are programmed in such a way that it's impossible to get a virus. Apps that are written for iPhones must be approved by Apple to be listed in the App store. Once these apps are installed, they're only allowed to run within a limited 'space' in the iPhone.

Image of someone using an iPhone
 Jan Vašek\Pixabay

Androids may need antivirus software. It's impossible to jailbreak an iPhone anymore, but the same isn't true for Android phones. Android users can root their Android, which opens up system files and folders to be modified by installed apps. This, combined with the ability to install Android apps outside of the Google Play store, makes Android phones more susceptible to viruses.

Image of a person using an Android

Do I Need Antivirus On My Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a unique device that is entirely cloud-based. Because of this, Chromebooks are one of the few devices that have no need for antivirus software.

Image of a Samsung Chromebook
Photo Mix\Pixabay

The reasons for this are similar to the reason iPhones can't get viruses.

  1. Chromebook tabs use a virtual sandbox. Every tab you open when using a Chromebook runs in its own virtual sandbox, meaning that anything you do inside that tab (including visit a malicious web page) stays contained within that environment and can't spread anywhere else on the system.
  2. Chrome OS performs integrity checks. In the off chance that some web based virus managed to modify a system file, it won't last for long. Every time you start up your Chromebook, the system reaches out to Google's servers to perform an integrity check. If there is any anomaly within system files, the system will repair itself by replacing those system files with new, clean files from Google's servers.

It is possible to make your secure Chromebook insecure. If you enable Developer Mode on your Chromebook, you're also enabling the ability to load third-party apps to be loaded onto your device. This can put your system at risk. In addition to avoiding enabling Developer Mode, it's important to ensure you have automatic system updates enabled so you know you're always running the latest version of Chrome OS.