Antivirus is just snake oil and harms your security! Yeah, nah.

Wednesday 06 June 2018 News Emsisoft, Ltd.

Snake oil: noun; informal.

A substance with no real medicinal value sold as a remedy for all diseases.

The term comes from the 19th-century American practice of selling cure-all elixirs in traveling medicine shows. Snake oil salesmen would falsely claim that the potions would cure any ailments. Now-a-days it refers to fake products.

We have seen the above statement in various blog posts over the years. Many writers have claimed that antivirus software causes more harm than good, and that users should stay away from it to avoid risking their computer’s security.

This article aims to provide some insider information from the antivirus industry. While there is indeed a grain of truth in what gets thrown around against us antivirus software makers, there’s also some key information that is missing from these well-meaning security articles.

It’s the missing bits that often define the conclusions. I encourage you to learn more about the situation and then decide for yourself whether antivirus software is snake oil or an essential part of every computer system.

What is antivirus/anti-malware software supposed to do?

Protect from viruses, trojans, ransomware and all other sorts of malware, of course!

But wait, there is more to this seemingly banal answer. Let’s have a look at malware’s origins first.