Cover your children’s ears and lock away the faint of heart. A series of news articles have been squirming their way across the web quoting an assistant professor at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering in Montreal.
Antivirus is “totally useless.”
The gigs up. Turn in your papers. Make an orderly exit. Nobody cause a scene.
Yes, you too, my wonderful blue-shirted Best Buy employee. I regret to inform you that you are wrong, the free three-month subscription to Norton Antivirus will not “keep my computer safe.”
Wait. Hold on. Am I the only one feeling a little déjà vu? I feel like …
Ah, NOW I remember.
It was back in 2012, when Imperva released a study saying the same thing.
Or … was it back in 2008 when students were learning how to beat the expensive antivirus packages and certain companies offering those expensive antivirus packages were none too happy about it?
Idiots or Misinformation?
Let’s reflect for a moment. We all know that antivirus is mostly useless as a one-stop shop for stopping malware. Don’t fling your computer out the window in a fit of rage just yet. “Mostly useless” is not the same as useless.
But before we go down that philosophical road debating levels of ineptitude, let’s try an experiment. Ask people in the general public, people who use computers every single day, what they think about keeping safe online.
I did. I asked a fair computer savvy 20-year-old (the kind that likes to download music illegally) if she was worried about her computer getting infected from all those “trustworthy” downloads.
“I don’t need to worry about that. I have an antivirus.”
The glorious wisdom of the youth shines on us all.
Now here’s a serious question to ponder: Is she silly?
Or has she been led to believe, through years of misinformation, that she truly is protected? Is there any money to be made by telling people, “Never click on anything you don’t completely trust,” then smacking them upside the head while you shout “Never click!” again and again and again until they have nightmares and burst into tears just thinking about clicking that next “You won’t believe this!” link.
A final question: Could it be possible that most people aren’t idiots, but just seriously misinformed by an industry that would rather sell “safe” than the truth?