Do you use third-party antivirus software? Well you shouldn’t if you’re running one of Microsoft’s newer operating systems, at least according to a developer who used to work on Firefox (but has since left Mozilla).
Those who are running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, Microsoft’s two most recent versions of its desktop OS, should simply stick to the built-in protection of Windows Defender, according to Robert O’Callahan.
He argues that in actual fact there isn’t any compelling evidence at all to indicate that going with a third-party antivirus solution will actually make your PC any more secure (unless you’re running an older operating system – Windows 7 or further back – in which case it may help a little).
Otherwise, O’Callahan says that Windows Defender is good enough for basic security needs – but the real point he’s making is that it doesn’t introduce bugs and problems that third-party efforts suffer from, which can actually make the machine they’re installed on more vulnerable to attackers. And that Microsoft follows standard security practices, whereas third-party security vendors don’t.
At any rate, we don’t have to look back very far for an example of the aforementioned bugs, as it was reported last week that Trend Micro, a big-name security firm, had over 200 flaws present across its range of products (which white-hat hackers uncovered over the second half of 2016). The vast majority of those vulnerabilities could be exploited remotely, as well.
The ex-Mozilla employee also warned that the various makers of antivirus software often managed to break the code included in browsers designed to keep users safe from certain exploits, again making them more vulnerable rather than secure. And critical browser updates can also be blocked by third-party security software, he further noted.
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Antivirus vendors = terrible
O’Callahan wrote: “Antivirus software vendors are terrible; don't buy antivirus software, and uninstall it if you already have it (except, on Windows, for Microsoft's [Defender]).”
He explained that it’s difficult for browser makers to air these sort of issues because they need the cooperation of antivirus companies when it comes to fixing any problems that crop up – and a bad relationship could make this more difficult, obviously enough.
He further observed: “Users have been fooled into associating AV vendors with security and you don't want AV vendors bad-mouthing your product.”
As mentioned, he does advise that those on older operating systems may feel more benefit, although his phrasing isn’t exactly positive even then: “If you're on Windows 7 or, God forbid, Windows XP, third-party AV software might make you slightly less doomed.”
Incidentally, Windows Defender is slowly gaining a better reputation for security, as we saw this time last year.
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