With the move of many applications and services to the cloud, it can be tempting to think that the need for internet security has been taken out of your hands. Surely you can trust the likes of Google, Microsoft and Apple to keep your data safe, and render any attack by the 'bad guys' null and void, right? Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Even with your personal and professional data safe in the cloud, a basic keylogger deployed to your PC can allow access to everything you and your business holds dear, while a ransomware program installed locally can render your PC useless, even if your data is stored safely in the cloud (just ask anyone who worked in the NHS during the summer of 2017 during the WannaCry attack).

There is also the concern that depending on where your data is stored, viruses and malware can be uploaded to the cloud directly from your infected PC, thus infecting the servers on which your backup data resides. Depending on how much redundancy your particular cloud-based backup service provides, this sort of attack can render your data unusable.

Still The First Line Of Defense

For this reason, antivirus software should still be your first line of defense when it comes to protecting not only your computers at work, but your devices at home too. With the number of people work from home either part-time or full-time increasing every year, many of us are using our own laptops to check work emails, or log onto our work servers, which means an insecure laptop at home could provide the key to not only your own Gmail account, but that of your work accounts too. Because of this, the best antivirus software solution is an absolute must.

There are, however, a few exceptions when it comes to antivirus. An up-to-date smartphone or tablet should be secure enough to keep the bad guys out, although, if you want to be absolutely sure, there are some solutions for Android phones out there that will run scans from time to time, and check the apps and attachments you are downloading. In general though, a smartphone with an up to date OS and the latest security patches will be just fine. Chromebooks too, as long as the latest security patches are installed, are a secure option. Apple also deals with their own security issues, so if you are using a MacBook just make sure you keep installing those periodic patches and you will minimize the risk of any issues arising. So who exactly is at the most risk from malware and virus infection? Well, as it turns out, it is still those of us who use the operating system with the largest install base, and that is obviously Microsoft Windows.

Windows Is Still The Main Target

Windows 10, the latest iteration of the OS actually comes with a pretty decent built-in antivirus, but it is worth noting that while Windows Defender doesn't perform badly when tested by the experts, it is nowhere near the best option out there. If you are working with particularly sensitive information, it may be worth looking into a more robust strategy than that given out for free by Microsoft. If you are using an older version of Windows, you really should be looking at an antivirus solution outside of what Microsoft provides, as those older versions have either stopped getting security patches (in which case, it is absolutely time to upgrade that OS), or the antivirus solution provided is not up to scratch for the modern world. An operating system and its antivirus are only as secure as their last patch.

With so much of our personal and business lives moving to the cloud (even the likes of the US military are getting in on the cloud action) securing the terminals through which we access our information will remain our responsibility for the foreseeable future. Whether that just means keeping your Chromebook up-to-date with its monthly patches, or deploying an anti-virus on your Windows 10 machine, the threats from malware and viruses are not going away. Make sure the door to your digital life is as secure as possible. 

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