What is AV (Anti-Virus) Software
Anti-virus software, also known as anti-malware, is a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malware. Malware is any computer programme designed to spy, steal, open backdoors and do harm or damage to a computer operating system, data or user.
Do I need it?
Sadly, if your device connects to the internet or any other devices you definitely need AV software.
Anti-virus and anti-malware should be chosen wisely. Running AV/AM software is always a trade-off between “snail-speeds” and “good-performance” even on brand new devices. Finding the balance between user frustration, security, productivity, and the price is an important decision for any organization.
But whether or not your school needs to buy AV software depends on the type of device and OS (operating system) you use, whether the device is connected to other devices (including external drives and removable media) and to some extent, the online behaviour of your users.
Windows PCs and laptops
Some new PCs and laptops come with purchasable AV software preloaded. Usually, the software is a time-limited, trial version and you will be prompted to subscribe for further protection.
However, if your PC or laptop uses Windows 10 OS it has Windows Defender built in. Windows Defender is free AV software that works seamlessly in the background. There’s no need for the users to do anything. Windows Defender provides sufficient protection for most school PCs/laptops.
iOS, the Apple operating system was designed to be as secure as possible. It only allows Apps to be downloaded from the App Store and all apps on the App store undergo rigorous security checks before they are allowed into the App Store. There is virtually no chance of an app containing a virus.
There are no AV apps in the App store because Apple maintains that they are not necessary. If you search the App Store for ‘anti-virus’ you will find a number of apps listed but these are not AV products. They provide safe/private web browsers, password managers, anti-theft alarms and or other similar products.
If your Apple device has been jailbroken you lose the inbuilt security that the iOS provides.
Generally speaking, you don’t need AV but if you are installing apps outside of Google Play, installing an Android antivirus app is one way to keep yourself safe.
For more information see this Tech Advisor article
No anti-virus software is needed. Chromebooks come with built-in malware anti-virus protection, with multiple layers of security. The AV protection stays up-to-date automatically, so you are always running the latest and most secure version. Chrome manages your updates silently in the background.
Anti-virus software and servers
Windows Server 2016 has inbuilt Windows Defender. Older server operating systems do not have an integrated AV. If you decide that you need AV for your server, talk to your tech support provider.
Anti-virus software is on one part of a school’s technical security arrangements. Using supported versions of operating systems, allowing regular updates and applying patches is also necessary.
And finally, it’s also important to remember that people play a huge part in system security. Your hardware/software choices are responsible for about 40% of your system security. The other 60% is down to the human factor. Most security breaches are the result of poor user behaviour – downloading infecting attachments, falling for ‘phising scams’, activating malware by clicking links in dodgy emails etc.
( See related articles Cyber Security Protecting Your School and Ransomware )
Schools should equip their staff with at least basic security training and carry out short surveys during the year to assess security and, if necessary, invest in additional professional training.