Think of it this way—if you don’t have antivirus software installed on your computer, you’re fully exposed to the harmful rays of cyberspace without wearing any “sunscreen.” Consider antivirus your digital SPF 50. You gotta wear it or you’ll pay the price later.

Every year, thousands of new viruses are launched including new versions of existing viruses. Antivirus helps because it tracks malicious “signatures” and keeps the known viruses out of your system.

Even if you don’t care about your computer, you do have a responsibility to the rest of us: your colleagues, your newsroom, your sources and your family. By leaving your computer unprotected you could let cyber criminals turn it into a zombie bot and use it to attack others. If you have any computers that don’t have antivirus installed, you need to fix the problem right now.

Remember an antivirus isn’t very effective if it hasn’t been updated with the latest virus signatures or if you’ve turned the software off for some unfathomable reason. So wear your cyber SPF every day. Install antivirus and keep it updated. Find reputable options suggested by PC Magazine here.

And consider the temptation to download software from a non-vendor approved website to be like cheese on a mousetrap. Free or a reduced price on software your heart desires, especially on a limited newsroom budget, looks so yummy and delicious. But…WACK! It ends so badly.

I’ve seen the damaging results first-hand while working for a cybersecurity company. Some of these sites are selling illegal unauthorized copies of software that are far more likely to be infected with viruses. If someone is selling pirated software in the first place, you have to question the quality control too.

And remember when you install this free or cheap rogue software, you won’t have access to any customer service or support desk to help you clean up any mess that you’ve made inside your device. Nor will you receive crucial updates for any vulnerability that may be discovered.

From my professional experience, the most likely result if you purchase questionable software from questionable sites with questionable reputation will be an expensive bill from your local IT repair shop.

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