It's Not That Antivirus Has Died, It's That People Have Stopped Using It - InformationWeek

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Bogdan Botezatu
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Itís Not That Antivirus Has Died, Itís That People Have Stopped Using It

Study finds that one in three US computer users don't have an anti-malware solution installed.

Over the past few years, a number of anti-malware vendors and media outlets have mourned the death of antivirus and its inability to protect users against modern, highly targeted malware that is being used in advanced persistent attacks.

But the modern anti-malware solution has grown way beyond the antivirus we used to know: It offers layered defense mechanisms that are able to behaviorally inspect an application and give an accurate result. However, people have stopped using the recommended best-practices out of ignorance or carelessness. This is the finding of a survey carried out by Romanian antivirus vendor Bitdefender in September.

According to the findings, one in three US-based computer users don’t have an anti-malware solution installed. Only 67.3% of respondents are protected by an antivirus solution. Advanced security technologies such as VPN and two-factor authentication are used by less than one in 10 Americans.

The study also finds that young females (aged 18 to 29) are the least interested in securing their computers or smart devices. In contrast, adult male computer users (aged 30 to 44) are extremely concerned about their online security and complement their antivirus solutions with extra technologies such as VPN or data backup.

The number of malware incidents reported by the interviewed subjects reflects the poor state of security on their devices: 46.9% said their home devices have been infected with malware, while 7% encountered malware infections at work. Furthermore, 19.2% of the study respondents don’t know if their devices have ever been infected.

Password reuse is also common in the United States, even after a series of high-profile data breaches in the past three years. Almost 30% of those interviewed reuse or use slightly different versions of their passwords for all their accounts. To make matters worse, only 7.2% of Americans have enabled two-factor authentication mechanisms to safeguard their online identities. Respondents say they fear they’ll forget passwords if they don’t reuse the same ones.

Bitdefender’s study also reveals the increased incidence of other poor security practices such as the use of unsecured or untrusted mobile hotspots. Over 74% of respondents said that they had connected to an untrusted WiFi network at least once, but only 8.5% of them have adopted a VPN solution to encrypt mobile traffic.

The security of financial accounts and identity theft are two of respondents’ greatest concerns in the digital world. A full 60.7% say they fear having their bank accounts hacked, while 51.4% fear a compromise of their personal information. Additionally, 40.1% fear a malware infection that could allow hackers to turn on their webcams or microphones.

It goes without saying that not all anti-malware solutions are equal, and their ability to react to threats varies from one vendor to another. If you’re one of the 67% of users who take their security seriously, make sure that your next anti-malware solution can face the potential threats you are exposed to on a daily basis.

Bogdan Botezatu is living his second childhood at Bitdefender as senior e-threat analyst. When he is not documenting sophisticated strains of malware or writing removal tools, he teaches extreme sports such as surfing the Web without protection or how to rodeo with wild ... View Full Bio
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