There are those who believe that anti-malware applications actually aren’t needed. While I disagree with that as an absolute statement, the fact is that if you really know what you’re doing – deeply – then it may be possible to be relatively safe on your own.
It’s just not something I advise, since it relies on being 100% right 100% of the time when it comes to identifying and avoiding potential threats. Things have become much too complex to rely on that kind of accuracy.
Not only do I advise running anti-malware tools, I run them myself.
The real problem is something else entirely.
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The real problem, however, is that even with those tools in place there’s really no way to avoid what’s called the “Dancing Bunnies” Problem1.
It works like this: if typical users receive an email that says, “Click here to see dancing bunnies”, then a significant number of them are going to circumvent any and every protection the system might have in place, because they want to see those dancing bunnies, dammit.
That’s the heart of what’s been called social engineering – promise something you know people will react to to get them to bypass the security measures in place; so as to allow whatever else you really had in mind.
At that point, it doesn’t matter what the ideal operating system is or even what the best anti-malware tool is. We’ve all seen or heard of users who very carefully and determinedly dismiss, ignore or otherwise bypass every warning and every roadblock that’s been put in place to keep them safe, simply to see those dancing bunnies.
Don’t be that person.
Pay attention to your tools
Pay attention to what your security tools and measures are telling you. If your anti-malware tools throw up a warning, then STOP. Yes, it could be a false positive, though most often it’s not. It could be an annoyance, but it’s an annoyance meant to keep you safe.
Do some research before you proceed. Read the messages that your anti-malware tool is giving you, as well as any additional information it offers. Search the internet to see what others’ experiences have been in your situation. Ask a trusted adviser. Get more information before proceeding.
The anti-malware or other tools are warning you for a reason.
Remember, once your machine has been compromised by malware, it’s not your machine any more. Once your account has been hacked into, it’s not your account any more.
The cost of failure in scenarios like this can be very, very high.
And it’s extremely likely that there simply are no dancing bunnies at all, no matter what you’ve been promised.