During the internet’s awkward youth, threats online seemed to lurk around every corner. To protect starry-eyed users, anti-virus software was installed on nearly every computer. However, it seems that the industry has finally matured. Browsers and operating systems now offer built-in defenses that are on par with other third-party software.
For Windows 8 and beyond users, Microsoft has taken the initiative regarding online safety and provided a variety of security programs. These programs come pre-installed and are set to automatically update when a new version is released. SmartScreen is one significant advancement, providing security for any downloaded files. When a user downloads an item, SmartScreen will run the data through Microsoft’s database. If the file is identified as malicious, it will block the application from running. If the program has never seen the file before, and is unsure if it is safe, it will stop the application from running and warn the user. However, the user can override this warning and continue with the download process.
Another filter implemented by Microsoft is Windows Firewall. This application monitors traffic coming from the internet to the local computer. The firewall stops malicious attacks, such as Trojans or worms, from using a computer to infect and spread across networks. Additionally, any suspicious traffic will trigger a prompt, requiring an administrator to manually allow it.
Finally, Microsoft has Windows Defender, an anti-virus software. This program scans programs looking for viruses or other malicious software. Defender provides real-time protection, achieving good security and high detection rates.
These built-in security protocols are also found in many paid security programs, such as Malwarebytes and McAfee. Though paid software may be better able to detect malicious content, as well as provide anti-malware applications, the difference is marginal from free software. A word to the wise should you decide to add additional security programs, if the programs are set to automatically scan, it could slow your computer down because the programs are competing with existing Windows virus or malware software. Therefore, by utilizing Windows security package and tactics for safe browsing, a third-party antivirus software may become a thing of the past.
Authors: Grey Ruessler, IT User Services and Emily Cieslewicz, IT User Services
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