But first, let me rant a bit. It’s no secret that I dislike the security software industry. In one of my very first posts here, nearly four years ago, I called it a “protection racket” and said, “I can already see the beginnings of an ‘arms war’ among security software companies, with ads and whisper campaigns based on fear.” Back in 2005, I wrote a post arguing, “The security software industry wants you to be afraid.”
I have deeply mixed feelings about antivirus software, especially when it’s part of a big security suite that tries to protect you from every imaginable form of online threat. The companies that sell you that software have an interest in keeping you afraid, and so they publish countless studies proving how dangerous the online world is.
They also have a vested interest in proving that you haven’t wasted your subscription dollars on their product, so they need to occasionally (or continually) pop up messages and alerts and reminders to show you exactly which threats they’ve blocked. Even when those “threats” are trivial or nonexistent.
Just how dangerous is it out there? Here’s what you need to know: