For all the negativity encircling the internet security industry, the importance of having a good anti-virus can never be downplayed. Yes, there’s been a lot of rumours about what the source of all the viruses we have to protect ourselves from is (anti-virus developers), but be that as it may, there are some very real threats lurking in the vast world of the World Wide Web and if you don’t take steps to protect yourself you could become a victim of some very damaging malicious attacks.
Just a few short years ago, many people would have attested to the fact that they survived without installing an anti-virus on their computers. Things aren’t like that anymore however and if you actually dig a little deeper you’ll realise that things have never actually been like that. Sure, if you perhaps had a home computer which was completely disconnected, was purely for gaming maybe and never came into contact with the internet, then there’d perhaps have been a case for not needing an anti-virus. Even then though, the flash disks you plug in and other removable media which you share with your friends all carry threats. In fact, that was the one way through which most “disconnected” PCs got infected, albeit with viruses which didn’t really do much damage.
One famous virus which comes to mind was the recycler virus which in a sense just filled up your device memory by exponentially recreating what seems like an endless directory of empty folders. It was even hard to delete the recreated files/folders because moving them to the recycle bin would only have them return upon your next system re-start.
The one trick which “disconnected” users seemed to have missed however is that such “off-line” viruses effectively come to life as soon as you connect and go online. They in a sense prepare everything while you go about your business offline and trigger the knockout blow as soon as you go online, like sending some of your key log extracted passwords and usernames to a hacker who then sells off information such as banking details to an underground market.
There are so many different ways through which malicious intruders use viruses though, from using your system as just one of many originator points for a DDOS attack (find out what’s a ddos attack) to masking their illicit activities using yours and other people’s systems as makeshift proxy-servers.
So even if you can safely say that you’ve used your computer without any problems for years on end without the protection of an antivirus, most of the threats are those which you never really find out about. Somebody could be using your system or I.P. address to send spam, for instance, which could get you blacklisted and blocked from a few important sites you might otherwise want to interact with, while the very real threat of your identity or banking credentials being exploited in a damaging way lingers on, waiting for the right time to strike.
So do yourself a favour and get a good anti-virus. Rather be safe than sorry.