Ask LH: Do We Still Need Desktop Antivirus?

Ask LH: Do We Still Need Desktop Antivirus?
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Hi Lifehacker, With companies using strong enterprise firewall products that detect viruses on the network, is there really a need for a desktop antivirus solution on corporate PCs? Thanks, Viral Vanquisher

Security picture from Shutterstock

Dear VV,

Yes, there is a need. There’s no doubt that effective perimeter protection can minimise many sources of malware, meaning that malicious code never has a chance to install itself on end user machines. Appropriate policies (such as restricting the ability to install new software) can also assist. However, with a mobile workforce, it’s not always realistic to assume that a computer will be connecting via the corporate network. If someone is browsing using a 4G connection (and not utilising a VPN), desktop solutions can still play an important role.

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” policy in this area. It’s probably possible to secure a machine without any desktop antivirus, but security covers more than that. There are other areas where desktop tools may be needed (such as ensuring confidential information isn’t stolen). Configuring desktop AV may also be a simpler task than setting up lots of other restrictions. Regardless, assuming “I’m protected here, so I don’t need protection anywhere else” is a policy that’s likely to cause trouble in the long run.


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