I was wondering if having an antivirus installed is still a necessary thing in 2017 for me, I will explain myself:

I never use my antivirus to scan file that I'm not really sure about (I use a service like VirusTotal for example), the only case is when a file is large.

I have add-on on my web browser to block script and stuff and I try to avoid unknown links and website.

I'm updating everything (OS,Java,ETC...)

If you think about that having an anti virus doesn't really seems necessary, it's just using a little bit of memory.

I understand that for some people it's useful, but since I'm the only user of my PC.

What do you guys think ?

EDIT:I'm talking about a simple free antivirus like Avast for example.

  • 2
    This is much more of an opinionated question, and we would need a lot more info on your operating system. For example, you could be on Windows XP or a hardened version of BSD. Either way, if you're networked in any way, you will need some sort of protection. – Henry F Jun 21 '17 at 16:59
  • I forgot to add that I'm updating everything (OS,Java,ETC...). I've got the basic Windows firewall, that seems sufficient no ? (I didn't change the configuration) + I'm in NAT. – lapinousexy Jun 21 '17 at 17:00
  • Did you know that AV scans files even if you don't tell it to? You might be benefiting more than you know .... – schroeder Jun 21 '17 at 17:28
  • I know that, but I said I was already scanning file I was downloading, so this is the same thing. – lapinousexy Jun 21 '17 at 17:35

I spoke to the CTO of Symantec at a conference once who said something that I'll never forget:

If every user does everything they are supposed to do all the time, then you do not need anti-virus.

The question becomes, can you ensure all those conditions? Do you live with others? Are you 100% diligent with your protections?

I'm a security expert and extremely paranoid (my techniques are far beyond yours in terms of what of I do to protect myself) and I'd never run a computer without anti-virus.

  • Yeah I can agree with you a little bit, even with all precaution, I'm still a human who is doing mistake, in this case an antivirus would act like a last resort. You convinced me, I will keep my antivirus for now. I'm a little bit curious about : "my techniques are far beyond yours in terms of what of I do to protect myself", can you tell me a little bit more ? – lapinousexy Jun 21 '17 at 17:40

Since you've said it's just your machine, this is about your risk comfort level with your own web habits. If you don't think you need one, and if you aren't worried about what you might lose if your computer becomes infected, don't run one.

However, once you start talking about sharing data with others, such as hooking it up to a LAN where it could communicate with your family members or housemates; or if you exchange Word or Excel documents with other people; you start exposing more people to risk. Are they as confident as you that you're careful enough? Conversely, they may not be so careful themselves, and you might find yourself on the receiving end of an SMB worm or macro delivering ransomware. How much do you trust the other people on your subnet, or those that would legitimately send you an Office document?

Finally, if you're dealing with certain kinds of data (such as running a business, or taking credit card payments on your computer), you run afoul of regulations such as PCI, and almost all of those will compel you to run an anti-virus program.

  • It's a personnal computer, but there is other PC on the network, but a malicious code can't infect me by this way right ? (appart from a 0 day exploit in SMB for example) – lapinousexy Jun 21 '17 at 17:37
  • 1
    Not to be too snarky about it, but if you can't answer that question, you really should run an AV on it. (And the answer is yes, and it wouldn't even take an SMB exploit to harm you if the other computer shares a drive with yours. Their malware would already have all the authority it needs to infect your machine via legitimate channels.) – John Deters Jun 21 '17 at 19:05

Computer security is based on layers of protection. Making sure your OS and apps are up to date are both a good start and user knowledge is good but can you be sure you are protected against zero day exploits? There have been instances of drive by malware spread through advertising networks (going on "safe sites" would not help here). Firewalls are a necessity, and the commonly known antivirus helps with it's generally signature based protection. You may want to look into "next gen" antivirus as well which tends to encompass exploit detection, application sandbox testing and in some products with the ability to roll back file changes as these products gear more towards newer malware strategies like ransomware.

  • You are talking about 0 day exploit, but an antivirus would not protect you from this (nor any other software), Have you a name about these new gen antivirus ? Never heard of them (appart from Kaspersky new technology) – lapinousexy Jun 21 '17 at 18:27
  • Not free, but have a look into Hitman Pro Alert (now a Sophos product). – hexnet Jun 21 '17 at 18:34

Nobody needs antivirus, except insofar as they need their data safe.

Lets talk risk analysis. If your Windows PC gets infected by a worm that scans your hard disk for identity or bank information, how much do you lose? If your disk gets maliciously encrypted, what's the maximum you would pay to decrypt it? If malware microcode gets flashed to your motherboard's hardware controllers and your machine is bricked, how much do you lose? Compare this to how much you lose installing Avast and keeping the definitions up to date.

You trust your own browsing habits and software use? Confidence and good habits are important. It puts you in the category of 80% of Windows users who trust their own habits and usage (I wouldn't put myself in that category. I'm sloppy). Do you ever use a public wifi hotspot? Do you use a processor with Intel Managment Engine? Is your memory vulnerable to a rowhammer attack?

You run updates? That's also very important. Just know that it can take Microsoft months or years to patch known vulnerabilities.

Are you doing anything such that someone may want to pay lots of money to stop you (i.e. anything important?)

Start with the assumption that you are vulnerable and then crunch the numbers. This is the difference between "proactive" and "paranoid".

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.