My antivirus has expired – is that bad?

020215-antivirusThe antivirus software on your computer has expired, and the company is asking for money to renew your subscription. Is it a problem that your antivirus has expired?

The short answer is, “Yes!”

Antivirus is an essential piece of software that protects your computer – or computers and network, if you’re a business – from Internet-based threats like viruses and malware. Keeping your software up to date ensures that you’re protected from known and unknown threats. When your subscription is current, your antivirus is constantly updated as new threats are identified to make sure you’re protected against the latest viruses and malware.

What happens when your antivirus subscription expires?

Well, it varies by the software you use; each behaves differently. Most will continue to function in some way. You may be able to run a scan, but you won’t be able to clean up anything that the scan uncovers. Or, the auto-scan feature could be turned off. Updates to malware and virus databases will definitely be discontinued, which means that a scan can find existing threats, but new ones could slip in.

The end result is that your computer or computer system is less secure than it was before your subscription expired. Did you know that computers running expired antivirus software is only slightly more secure than a machine with no antivirus software at all?

So, what should you do? As we see it, you have three options – only two of which make sense to us.

Renew your current software. If you’re not planning to switch software, we recommend renewing your software or subscription before it expires. Most software will notify you that you’re about to expire and will let you renew from within the program. Do it before you expire so there’s no lapse in coverage. Not sure how to do this? Call us; we can help.

Switch to a different antivirus software. If you’re not happy with your current antivirus package, switch! There are many options available to home and business users, and we can help you find the right antivirus solution for your specific situation. We recommend beginning the search process before your current antivirus expires. You want to choose and activate something new before expiration so that there’s no lapse in coverage. We can help you with the transition between the two.

Let it expire and have no protection. If you’re planning to take a chance and let it expire without choosing another company for your antivirus protection, we recommend backing up your system and data before your subscription expires. That way you’ll have a clean copy of your data should your computer become infected. We do not recommend this option.

Of course, up-to-date antivirus software is just one part of protecting yourself from malware and viruses. Safe browsing and email habits can also protect you:

Install a firewall. Software and hardware firewalls are designed to protect your computer or computer system from incoming attacks.

Be skeptical about email. In past Tech Talk blog posts about spam and phishing, we advised you to be wary as you read your email. Don’t open unexpected attachments or click links in an email. If it looks too good to be true, it is! Many types of malware are spread through email – in infected attachments or through suspicious websites.

Educate yourself and your employees. Know how to protect yourself and educate your employees on safe email and Internet use. Not sure where to start? Let PNSolutions lead a workshop for your business! Education is one of the cornerstones of our work.

Back up your files. It’s easier to recover your files and data if you regularly back it up somewhere — preferably offsite. Not sure where to start? Let us help.

Still have questions about antivirus protection? Contact us today!

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