Some of my best and most memorable “Man to Man” moments that I share with my two young boys happen before the sun rises, as we exercise in the morning together. I like to jog and my boys enjoy riding their bikes, so for the three of us this is a welcome daily adventure, and we discuss life in those precious outings. Ever since I taught them to ride their bikes, they understood and grasped the importance of bicycle safety. However, as they are getting older I am noticing they’re constantly stretching their boundaries, looking for more independence if you will. For the first time this week, I got into a discussion with my oldest about wearing his helmet.
Our discussion started off with him explaining his reasons for not wanting to wear his helmet. He tried rationalizing with me that his friends aren’t wearing helmets, that his helmet is too small and doesn’t fit, and his newest reason: “I only ride on the sidewalk and when we ride alongside you while you’re jogging we don’t go fast.” (Ouch!) Trying to soften the tone of the discussion, I sarcastically replied, “now what if a coyote runs out of the woods (yes, there have been actual coyote sightings in our backyard woods recently), it starts chasing you and you end up crashing into a tree. Without missing a beat, he replied, “you’re not being serious, dad”. I simply said back, “Please do me a favor and count the number of cars that are backing down the driveway at the same time we are crossing”. He agreed and that morning on a short 2.5 mile run around the neighborhood he counted 17 cars, and more than half of those cars were completely unaware that we were waiting to cross. At the conclusion of the run, we resumed the conversation and we came to the agreement that we wear helmets not simply because they keep us safe, but also because danger has a way of finding us sometimes.
I’ve been in the antivirus industry my entire professional career, which began straight out of college over 15 years ago. In fact, this December will mark Thirtyseven4’s (which I started and founded) five year anniversary. We’re really excited to be celebrating that milestone in a few months. Over the course of time, I’ve probably given a thousand presentations on computer security and answered a million questions relating to the topic of information security. In all my experiences, it never fails that I have to answer and/or comment on the same two questions over and over again and again: (1) Do you guys (the antivirus industry) write the viruses? and (2) I don’t use antivirus software for my computer. While I simply don’t have the time or article space to answer both of those questions now, I will tackle the second issue because I was quickly reminded of it this morning when I talked things through with my sons about helmet safety.
I don’t use antivirus software for my computer because…
1. I have a Mac and the Mac OS doesn’t get viruses. This has been a misconception for years. While the likelihood of a virus infection on a system running Microsoft Windows is still considerably higher than a Mac, the number of Mac malware samples being analyzed by myself and my team are higher today than ever before. Most of the newer Mac malware closely resemble and mimic Windows counterpart. For years, Apple has chanted the catch phrase “It just works” (regarding Apple products and services). I am not sure if actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton and others would entirely agree after their photos were hacked and stolen under Apple’s infrastructure. The bottom line is that Macs are more vulnerable than they have ever been, and I see their threat levels and vulnerabilities being threatened and compromised just as Windows devices are. The old quip that “Macs don’t get viruses” is simply not true anymore.
2. I’m a very cautious person and only use my computer on certain legitimate websites. As Heartbleed and other recent website hacking breaches have shown, there is no longer such a thing as a “safe” website in today’s day and age. Sad but true. Cybercriminals are very savvy and are quick to exploit the latest vulnerabilities and penetrate even the securest of networks. Legitimate websites are getting hacked on a daily basis and not only are hackers stealing your confidential information but are also uploading malicious code to them so that when you access these sites, you are may unknowingly (and without your consent) be downloading malicious code directly to your computer.
3. I’m not Wells Fargo and therefore not a target for attackers. You’re correct that you might not be a high-profiled target but trust me when I say that your information (ie. even your username and passwords) are financially beneficial to cybercriminals. For example, if you dropped a quarter and it rolled down a sewer drain, it probably wouldn’t be worth your time to pry open the drain and manually climb down in an attempt to fetch it. However, what if your quarter was just one of four million quarters that fell down that same drain? When you consider your personal information (financial and other) and multiply that by millions of users, pretty soon you can see how your information becomes very valuable to spammers and hackers. Most of the world lives much of their lives online, and those quarters add up fast with so many users.
4. Antivirus software slows my computers down. This is another common myth. Many independent security tests continue to prove this statement inaccurate. The bottom line is that today’s encryption techniques have been optimized to utilize minimal system resources. Computers are slowed down for many reasons, but in almost every case properly installed and configured antivirus software isn’t one of them. In my daily experience, there are hundreds of miscellaneous apps and toolbars (New options occur by the minute!) that people download without a care. These things slow down our machines (and possibly lead to vulnerabilities!). Whereas a solid antivirus product usually does not. It may take a moment to run a scan for infections, and some products utilize additional resources when they update your system for the latest virus threats (neither of these actions are “felt” with Thirtyseven4 btw—they occur continuously without users being affected). But even with products that might take a few extra seconds while securing your network—isn’t it worth it?
From the first time our kids rode with training wheels, to the countless “rides” up and down our street with me running and holding their bike steady as they mentally and physically connected the dots of pedaling and balancing and then eventually riding a bike without training wheels—from the first time, we have always worn helmets.
It’s just the smart thing to do. The safe thing to do. And the preventative thing to do. Antivirus is not so different. We know the dangers of being online without protection, but like my kids, we want our independence, or get lazy, or lose sight of what the protection protects us from.
The unknown can be dangerous. Just like a car backing out a driveway at full speed without a glance from the driver, we can get plowed into online as well. Just ask someone who has been hacked and has had their personal or financial data compromised.
Incidentally, the best case for antivirus (or being responsible in general), is that we just never know what the future holds. What I didn’t mention earlier is that during the course of that morning jog/bike ride with my boys, one of them had a crash. His tire got caught in the rut between sidewalk and grass, and while the palms of his hands and knees were bloodied, his helmeted head was not injured (Praise God).
We need to take a proactive approach to computer safety and arm ourselves with antivirus software. If you fall into one of the categories that I listed above and you are ready to take some safety measures, might I recommend Thirtyseven4? Aggressive security, light and fast on your machine and friendly Support. We are affordable and cutting edge. Visit us at www.thirtyseven4.com for more information.
In the meantime, whatever life brings your way today– live today to the fullest, but be safe doing it!