10 Common Antivirus Misconceptions Still Believed in 2024

CyberGhost Busters: Ghostie Investigates Antiviruses

Halloween comes once a year in the real world, but your computer lives it every day. Hungry vampires roam free sucking the life force from your system, zombies infest your data files spreading from network to network, and the occasional ghost pops out of your taskbar to trick you into searching for sexy clowns 10 miles away from your location. No wonder your computer’s throwing memory errors. Not even machines want to remember such horrors!

Shield your computer with an antivirus before it’s too late! Ghostie is here to teach you the truth about antiviruses and debunk all the myths that keep you from protecting your system.

You’re probably not using a premium antivirus because you’re relying on your computer’s firewall or Windows Defender. If you’re also a Mac user, you’ve probably heard a million times how Macs don’t even need an antivirus. Maybe a loved one told you that they heard on social media how antiviruses are a scam! None of it is true.

Viruses are real, hackers target any vulnerable device, and you can’t tell a virus from a legit file by just looking at it. I’m going to separate myth from reality to help you gain a better understanding of antivirus protection and why you need it.

So grab a bowl of your favorite Halloween candy and let me tell you a story…

So What is a Computer Virus?

A virus is a program that replicates and attacks certain parts of your system. It’s a type of malware (malicious software). That said, the word “virus” is a blanket term to describe any program with malicious code designed to harm your computer. “Virus” essentially means “malware”.

Malware can be as scary and crazy as Nicholas Cage. You never know what’s going to happen. Before you know it, your computer screams “Not the bees!” while the virus pokes and prods into its system.

Each virus uses a different tactic to infect your computer and the warning signs aren’t always obvious. I’m going to teach you how to defend yourself against the zombies and werewolves that eat away at your data files and hold your computer hostage.

Here are the most common types of computer viruses.

1. Trojans

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Like the trojan horse of legend, the trojan virus seems harmless at first. Trojans infiltrate your system from an email attachment or ad, and work in the background to remain undetected for as long as possible. Your computer welcomes it through the front gate because it usually looks like a harmless application or file. Once a trojan installs itself on your device, a hacker gains remote access to your system and any other device that is linked to it.

Pro-tip: Trojans are extremely dangerous and hard to detect. Only an antivirus wonders “what’s in the box” and then it starts blasting…

2. Worms

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Imagine a vampire enters your computer, bites innocent files, and makes more vampires. A computer worm is a self-replicating virus that is as difficult to detect as a trojan. Worms work autonomously. They infect your system, replicate as much as possible, and attempt to transfer themselves to any other devices linked to the same network.

Worms are incredibly infectious and spread through vulnerable servers, shared files, e-mails, and web pages. They’re hard to detect and free antiviruses have a tough time beating them.

Pro-tip: You’ll need the toughest antivirus on the market to run a stake through these blood-sucking vampires!

3. Adware

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Adware is probably the most annoying type of malware. It’s a ghost that won’t stop haunting you with stupid ads. If you think YouTube ads are the worst, think again…

Sometimes the ads only appear in your browser, but some adware infests your system with pop-ups anywhere on your computer screen. The main purpose is to get you to click on the ads so the cyberattacker can generate revenue through you. Adware can install itself on your system from free software you download or from other types of malware created to spread it.

Pro-tip: Never click on a pop-up ad! It can infect you with more adware or something much worse. If you’re already haunted, only a CyberGhost Buster can bust this ghost!

4. Ransomware

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Do you want to know how it feels being held for ransom by werewolves? That’s what ransomware does to your computer.

Ransomware is a type of malware that locks your system or certain data and then demands money for its release. It can be designed to encrypt your operating system or specific files. Some ransomware software can even hijack your webcam, film you, and then extort you under the threat of releasing the video file to the public.

Pro-tip: Pay careful attention to any free app you install. It usually offers other freeware that is automatically selected. That freeware could be ransomware in disguise like a werewolf is human when there’s no full moon!

5. Botnets

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A horde of zombies is sent to bring down the city hall while a warlock cackles maniacally behind them. That’s what a botnet looks like and your computer might already be one of those zombies.

A botnet is a network of infected computers under the control of a cyberattacker, also known as a botherder in this case. The purpose of botnets is to perform a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against a certain target to steal data, distribute malware, or cause disruptions. The botnet attacks the server with so many requests that it eventually crashes.

Pro-tip: Don’t join the zombie army! Use an antivirus to scan every single file you download from the internet or your emails.

Signs You’ve Been Bitten by a Vampire

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If you spot any of these signs, use an antivirus to run a stake through that malware’s heart! Show no mercy!

Super Antivirus to the Rescue!

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Antivirus software is the superhero you need! It bashes zombie skulls with its shield and hunts down sneaky trojans with a vengeance!

Users often misunderstand antivirus software. Just because you have one installed doesn’t mean you’re fully protected. An antivirus also isn’t necessarily bad if it can’t catch every virus because we’re dealing with an endless cat and mouse game. It all has to do with how an antivirus works.

Antivirus software scans your files and checks its database of known malware to confirm an infection. Our superhero carries an updated “most wanted” list and it’s looking to collect those sweet bounties 24/7. Antivirus looks deep into your infected system to find known parts of malicious code or familiar malware patterns used to create a new virus. This is the main reason why it’s so important to frequently update your antivirus.

So let’s bust some common antivirus misconceptions once and for all!

Antivirus Myths Busted

1. A Firewall is all the protection you need

Your Windows firewall doesn’t protect you from any virus, except certain worms and trojans that spread through networks. Its purpose isn’t to block malicious programs. This is probably the most common misconception that leads to countless compromised systems.

A firewall is a security tool that adds an important layer of protection to your computer network. It prevents free access to your computer by controlling the data traffic to and from your network. Without a firewall, anyone and anything can come and go.

You should always keep an active firewall, but don’t rely on it for protection against malware.

2. Antivirus software affects the performance of your computer

No, it doesn’t. Some people think an antivirus will slow their system’s processing speed because it’s working in the background. That’s not the case. A good antivirus requires few resources and you won’t notice the extra load. Only a system-wide scan will have an actual impact on your PCs performance.

Your computer won’t run faster either. Some believe that an antivirus will somehow optimize their system’s performance. This isn’t true, unless the antivirus removes a virus that is already slowing down your PC. If your computer is clean, it won’t affect its speed in any way.

3. Your antivirus is always right

Actually, the virus scanner is often wrong.

Depending on your antivirus, you might get false positives when you download a harmless file. This often happens when you download a torrent file, so make sure you take other safety precautions as well.

The opposite can also happen. Sometimes a virus will slip through without as much as a bleep from the antivirus. Don’t rely on your antivirus exclusively to protect your system.

4. You don’t need an antivirus if you use a VPN

A VPN doesn’t protect you from viruses – at least not directly. It hides your IP and encrypts your online traffic, but it doesn’t block malware. Many VPN users focus on these security aspects and falsely conclude that they’re safe from trojans, worms, and spyware.

A VPN protects you from some malware indirectly by blocking known malicious websites and ads, but it doesn’t prevent you from downloading infected files. Also, a VPN can’t scan your computer for a virus either. The best approach is to use a premium VPN like CyberGhost VPN with antivirus software included.

5. A blue screen of death means you have a virus

Some viruses cause full system crashes with the infamous blue screen of death (BSOD) error, but rarely. In most cases, the malware works quietly in the background and you might occasionally get a non-fatal error.

BSOD is often caused by hardware failure, driver problems, or corrupt system files. It’s something you should be troubleshooting before you start looking for a virus. Disable your computer’s automatic reboot to read the error code and then start looking for the culprit. Chances are it’s not a virus.

6. Windows Defender is enough

Windows Defender has improved a lot over the years and it offers substantial protection against malware. Is it enough, though? Not really. Free antivirus software has lots of holes, especially when it comes to catching certain viruses.

The main issue with Windows Defender, and other free antivirus programs, is that it fails to block many viruses. Microsoft doesn’t update its virus database as often as premium antivirus developers.

We all love freebies, but when it comes to security you shouldn’t rely on freeware. A premium antivirus receives frequent updates, has far more advanced features, and often comes packaged with other cybersecurity solutions. For example, you can get a cost-friendly cybersecurity suite with the CyberGhost antivirus and VPN package and get all the protection you need.

7. You are safe from hackers

Hackers are a pain in the backdoor (pun intended). They spread viruses to search for vulnerable networks and computers. Once the malware finds its targets, it installs backdoors for the hacker to use to get access to your data. If you think you’ll never be one of those targets just because you aren’t famous or a big corporation, think again.

If you’re on the internet, you’re always at risk of falling victim to a hacker. You don’t have to be rich or famous. You need a firewall, antivirus, VPN, and other cybersecurity tools to protect your devices as much as possible.

8. You’ll know if you have a virus

A classic mistake you’re probably making is thinking that you’ll “see” when you have a virus. That’s true in some cases, like adware that generates pop-up ads all over your desktop, but most malware works behind the scenes. Just because your computer runs normally doesn’t mean it’s clean.

Most viruses show subtle signs of infection, like slowing down your PC’s performance or limiting your connection speed. A trojan isn’t going to move into your system by announcing its arrival with bells and whistles. The solution? A powerful antivirus that actively blocks malware and runs frequent system scans.

9. You don’t need an antivirus if you visit ‘safe’ websites

One of the greatest misconceptions is that viruses only lurk on sketchy websites for porn, gambling, and torrenting. That’s not true at all. No website is entirely safe from malware. Your computer can get infected even from a seemingly harmless website about cats. Malware is spreading like wildfire and website owners are waging a constant battle to secure their sites.

Hackers often target websites that you’re likely to consider safe. You never know what’s really behind the next click or that funny cat video you’re about to download and share with your friends. You need powerful antivirus protection, preferably with a VPN as well. That’s the safest way to browse the web.

10. Antivirus is a scam

This is more of a conspiracy theory than a misconception, but a lot of people fall for it. Some believe that computer viruses don’t exist or that they’re made by antivirus developers to sell their software. None of that is true. Antivirus software works. A virus is just an application like any other, programmed to do whatever its creator wants.

Creating a virus isn’t rocket science. Anyone with a bit of programming knowledge can write malicious code in just a few hours. Protect your computer with antivirus software and stop computer viruses from spreading to everyone you know.

You should always keep an active firewall, but don’t rely on it for protection against malware.

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Invest in Premium Antivirus Software

Your antivirus shields your devices from hackers and trackers. Without one, you’re exposed to numerous security risks that can lead to data loss, theft, and bank account breaches. Don’t rely on free software with basic features to protect your privacy and valuable data. Top reasons to invest in an antivirus program:

  1. Phishing attacks are extremely common. Viruses can spread through any link you click on and file you download.
  2. You rarely notice the subtle signs of a malware infection.
  3. Your computer can be hijacked to be part of a botnet.
  4. Hackers infect computers to use their processing power to mine bitcoin.
  5. Free antivirus software won’t cut it because hackers are two steps ahead by the time an update is released.
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The Best Security Combo: an Antivirus and VPN package

Stay safe on- and offline with a VPN and an antivirus! This dynamic duo protects you against everything with malicious intent.

A VPN will keep your IP hidden from any third-party and encrypt your internet traffic. It will safeguard your data by blocking malicious websites and maintaining your anonymity online. The VPN is your first line of defense and the antivirus is the hammer that crushes any virus that tries to slip through.

I recommend the CyberGhost antivirus and VPN package for maximum protection.

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What’s a computer virus?

A virus is any type of malicious code that was written to change certain aspects of your system and spread to other computers. Some viruses are designed to steal your data, while others install a backdoor on your computer so a hacker can gain direct access.

How do I know if my computer is infected?

Your computer might be infected right now and you don’t even know it. An infection doesn’t always come with repeated computer crashes, errors, and pop-ups. In most cases, a virus works subtly in the background. It spreads through your network looking for data or installing backdoors for a hacker. The only way to truly know your computer has been infected is to use a top-of-the-line antivirus.

Is a firewall enough to stop a virus?

No, the firewall doesn’t protect your computer from a virus. That’s not its main function. Yes, it can block certain viruses that move around via network, like worms, but it doesn’t block the ones you get from a downloaded email attachment. Once the virus is on your computer, the firewall won’t do anything because it can’t actively search for malware. Only an antivirus can actively block malware and routinely scan your computer to remove an infection.

Does a VPN protect you from viruses?

A VPN can’t block viruses and it can’t scan your computer for infections. A VPN can only prevent an infection indirectly by blocking your connection to a malicious website. The best way to protect your computer is by using a VPN with antivirus like CyberGhost VPN.

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