Do I still need antivirus with Windows 10? [We Answer]

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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  • Cyber threats are becoming fiercer each day and your Windows 10 running device needs a protection layer in order to function at its best.
  • But don't just take our word for granted, read up these top 5 reasons below to convince yourself.
  • Have a look at this detailed Windows Defender vs. Premium Antivirus Guide to make the best choice.
  • Explore our Antivirus Hub as well and get the latest news and updates from this industry.
Microsoft launches emergency security updates to patch codecs

The term antivirus has become so ingrained in tech culture, that almost everyone is familiar with its meaning. Chances are you have a PC running Windows 10, and you’re wondering if you still need one.

After all, Windows 10 is the most advanced and secure desktop operating system to date. The short and simple answer is yes, and we’re going to explore five reasons why an antivirus is still a necessity.

Do you need antivirus for Windows 10?

1. Microsoft itself ships Windows 10 with a built-in antivirus

The most obvious reason why antivirus software is still a necessity for most users is Windows Defender.

Yes, even Microsoft – the company behind the Windows operating system that currently runs on over 1.5 billion PC – began integrating a basic antivirus solution with the release of Windows Vista in 2006.

Years later, things haven’t changed all that much, except for the explosion of security threats.

Today we have hundreds of millions of new PCs shipping every year with Windows Defender as an integral part of Windows 10, which comes pre-installed on many of these devices. It provides a basic layer of security until you install your own choice of antivirus.

However, this isn’t ideal for everyone since the built-in security Windows security tool actually performs basic tasks when compared to other premium antiviruses.

Install Bullguard

Speaking about premium solutions, we strongly recommend the Bullguard-powered software simply because it is robust enough to cover all your protection needs.

Boasting a unique triple-layered next-generation anti-malware feature, tons of additional options including a firewall to keep your entire network safe, an integrated vulnerability scanner, and even a custom-made secure browser, Bullguard is virtually unparalleled.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • BullGuard Parental Controls (to monitor your children while performing online activities)
  • Identity protection system (to protect your data from data thieves and cybercriminals)
  • Next-gen anti-malware (triple layer protection to detect, quarantine and neutralize any malware)
  • Sophisticated behavioral detection
  • Vulnerability Scanner (to check the authenticity of apps and drivers by verifying their digital signatures)
  • Intuitive and easy to use interface
  • Integrated firewall (to block unauthorized attempts to connect a device to the Internet)
Bullguard Internet Security

Bullguard Internet Security

Match your Windows 10 PC with BullGuard and experience premium, real-time protection.

 2. Antivirus can be used for easy setup of security rules

If you’re running the latest version of Windows 10, you can use the new Windows Defender Security Center to do more than just scanning for viruses.

Additional features include Device performance & health, Firewall and network protection, App and browser control, and Family options.

Windows Defender Security Center

The Windows Defender Security Center can provide you with additional tools, which is pretty good for a free tool, but still not enough when it comes to traditional, paid third-party solutions.

There are free versions available from third parties, but they’re just as limited, and some will even nag you with pop-up ads.

There’s a good reason why some antivirus vendors have changed the branding of their products to reflect how paid tiers of their products provide you with more than a simple virus scanner tool.

Some even offer mail spam protection, web browsing privacy protection, or use your mobile device as a strengthening tool for your PC’s security.

 3. Antivirus has evolved to match new security threats

Most of you have probably heard or read news about classic types of malware, such as Trojans, worms, keyloggers, and backdoors. These would typically infect users through things like email attachments or downloads from suspicious websites.

After that, they would spread to all devices in a local network, causing even more damage. All of them are different methods used to take advantage of your sensitive information.

Microsoft has been improving the security of Windows with each new release, rendering many of the classic viruses obsolete. In turn, the bad guys have devised new ways to attack and take over control of your PC.

One notable example is ransomware, which steals your data and makes it technically impossible to access unless you pay the thieves in a way that makes it very unlikely to ever identify them.

Wannacry decryption ransom tool

In the meantime, antivirus software has evolved to deal with such threats. It can now provide special protection for your important folders, prevent malware from starting with Windows, and set up a trusted application whitelist.

Some antiviruses even prevent an attacker from modifying their settings or uninstalling by locking things under a user password.

4. Your web browser is not as secure as you think

Chances are you spend the most time using a web browser, and this is also one of the main targets for the bad guys. As much as Google, Microsoft, and others like to tout how safe their browser is, the reality is that all of them have flaws.

That leaves you vulnerable until you get an update, which can take some time depending on the complexity of fixing the flaw.

On top of these, the classic phishing attacks still work. Attackers can hide malicious code in ads, auto-playing video, or social media campaigns masquerading as legitimate competitions or giveaways.

Once you click on these, you’re infected. And since there’s no visual clue of what has happened, you may not even know it.

Some attacks involve redirects that take you from a legitimate service to an infected or masquerading web page.

As you’re trying to log in, you basically give away your credentials to the bad guys. Good antiviruses typically analyze the web page code and will warn you if it’s malicious.

5. The antivirus as an additional layer of security

But I’m careful what I do with my PC and on the web is what some users may say. But you can never be too careful about security, and good practices are not enough to keep your PC safe. Thinking proactively about security will lower the risk of data and financial theft, or identity fraud.

As medics say: prevention is better than the cure. Here are some of the situations where an antivirus can provide some precious additional security:

  • online shopping, banking, and trading
  • using public Wi-Fi
  • sharing links, files, or even your PC with others
  • clicking on ads, giveaway links
  • watching adult content
  • when using social media or exploring the web
  • when downloading files, media, and software from the web

Some of you may even think that antiviruses can catch malware only after the fact. In reality, the best security solutions today analyze the behavior of any app you run.

This increases the chances of discovering a security threat before it even has a chance to do any harm.

What about Windows 10 S? 

Microsoft says that Windows 10 S is more secure because it only runs sandboxed apps from the Microsoft Store. That’s true to some extent, but it’s not the whole story.

You’re only less likely to get spyware and adware from the Store – which is curated by Microsoft.

You’ll only be able to use Microsoft’s Edge browser in Windows 10 S, which is still vulnerable to attacks. Your important files still need protection from ransomware.

Even sandboxed apps from the Store are not the holy grail of security. On top of that, the default account on Windows 10 S is still is vulnerable to attacks.

The takeaway is this: an antivirus is still as important as being careful and keeping your software up to date. Also, there’s no need to spend a fortune on an antivirus.

Companies like Bullguard or Bitdefender offer more affordable tiers that fit your specific needs. What do you use as a security solution?

Feel free to share your experience with us via the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about using an antivirus with Windows 10

  • Is Free Antivirus enough?

It is better than no protection at all. If you are not prepared to invest in a full-scale security suite, you can start by utilizing the built-in Windows antivirus tool that is absolutely free.

  • Do you really need antivirus?

In short, yes. Anything from email attachments to PDFs, malicious sites, and so on can potentially harm your PC. Check out this complete list of best antivirus tools to use.

  • What is the best free antivirus 2020?

Although premium solutions are preferable for obvious reasons, there are solid contenders that come free of charge as well. Feel free to explore this guide of the best open-source antivirus tools.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.