Are Antivirus Programs Effective

If you’re still wondering whether antivirus software is effective, you’re not alone. In fact, the debate has been going on for a while. Some researchers have even pronounced antivirus software dead and unnecessary for years now.

But here’s the truth: only a specific antivirus technology that makes up a small part of modern antivirus products is questionable.

The Antivirus Is Not Dead… Far From It.

The claim that antivirus software is no longer effective usually refers to signature-based antivirus. This technology scans for virus signatures and runs them against a continuously updated threat database. If a signature matches a known threat, the software is flagged as malicious and isolated to prevent any damage.

The major antivirus solutions have evolved beyond signature-based protection to include advanced techniques for malware detection. Behavior analytics, artificial intelligence, patching automation, and big data analysis are all very capable when it comes to identifying and disarming threats. Antivirus programs now block more than just Trojans, worms, viruses, and other harmful bugs, but also sophisticated zero-day attacks and ransomware threats.

While signature-based protection isn’t enough, it’s still important. You need protection against known viruses and bugs so it’s a good idea to install it on your devices.

Can Antivirus Protect Me Against Malware?

The short answer is yes, antivirus can protect you from most threats.  No single antivirus solution is 100% effective at detecting and removing malware, but it’s still effective for the most part.

Scanning for known malware has little value when you encounter new, unknown malware, so many antivirus products now have sophisticated features that can detect unseen threats. Major antivirus vendors have been expanding their products and bundling-in new features that go beyond basic malware protection, such as encryption and patching automation.

If Antivirus Is Not 100% Effective, Why Bother?

Just because anti-virus software won’t give you 100% protection, doesn’t mean that it’s not an essential security precaution.

We know that antivirus software isn’t 100% effective, and it has a lot to do with the pace at which new malware threats are being created. The payoffs are significant, so malware creators are becoming increasingly organized and professional. Modern malware is extremely sophisticated, unpredictable, and built to evade detection.

According to the Infosecurity Magazine, 360 thousand new variants of malware are released into the world every single day, malware is released and new threats are being created non-stop. It takes time for these new threats to be discovered by security experts.

However, newer technologies have sped up the process of countering new threats considerably. Antivirus solutions that rely on new technology will block the majority of threats, which is better than not having any protection at all.

Not All Antivirus Solutions Are Equally Effective

Keep in mind that not all antivirus software is created equal. Antivirus solutions vary greatly in terms of quality of protection, impact on system performance, and false positive rates. Make sure to carefully review your antivirus to ensure you’re getting all the protection you need.

Antivirus products are tested by independent labs, and it should have high ratings for both protection and detection.

Antivirus Is Not Bulletproof

Think of your antivirus as only one aspect to your security rather the sole method of protection. Following general security recommendations will minimize your risk, but antivirus software is not foolproof. Installing a top-rated antivirus, being cautious about the websites you visit, not opening questionable attachments, and avoiding clicking on suspicious links can help you and your network avoid many threats.


So is antivirus software worth your time and money? In the world of cybersecurity, nothing is 100% foolproof, and an antivirus is no exception. Does it help? Absolutely. But there will always be newer, more advanced malware that can breach even the best of defenses.

The bottom line is no single security measure, including installing an antivirus, safeguards against every possible threat. The best you can do is to make yourself a hard target with smart online behavior and the right antivirus solution. By investing in solid antivirus software, you will be much more secure than those who don’t.

About the Author

Eric C.
Eric C.
Expert on Cyber Security, Fintech, and Cryptocurrency

About the Author

Eric is a professional cyber tech expert with almost a decade of experience writing about security and tech. In recent years, he has been focused heavily on the rapidly developing fintech and cryptocurrency industries and how they relate to online security.