Do you need an antivirus if you don’t use the Internet?

Today, most people use their devices to connect to the internet. But if you don’t use the internet on any device like a tablet or laptop, do you still need antivirus software or is it a waste of money?

Online cyber attacks

laptop with phishing symbol on matrix background

There is no denying that online cyber attacks are more common than offline attacks. The Internet age has opened a door for threat actors looking to exploit unwitting victims through data theft, remote access, espionage, or other means.

The most common online cybercrimes are phishing, malware attacks, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, and Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks.

All of these cybercrime techniques can be incredibly damaging. There are numerous types of malware out there, many of which are getting more sophisticated every year. Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to defeat. As antivirus software improves and people’s knowledge of cybercrime grows, criminals need more sophisticated ways to access devices and data.

But things don’t end with online attacks. Offline attacks can be just as dangerous.

What are offline cyber attacks?

photo of various hardware input devices

A popular method of offline malware infection is using a flash drive. Flash drives can be loaded with malware that then infects any device it’s connected to. If you use your device in public or at work, leaving it unattended for a few minutes makes it easier for an attacker to infect your device using a flash drive.

Threat actors use flash drives to infect devices for a variety of reasons, including remote access and data theft. An infected USB can also trigger an electrical charge that can seriously damage the hardware in your device, often beyond repair. Attackers often disguise malware as malicious files so that the victim clicks on them without thinking. Once this is done, the malware can be launched.

A flash drive can also be used for HID (Human Interface Device) spoofing. In such an attack, the flash drive will be installed with a program that will make your computer believe that it is connected to an external keyboard (this is HID). Keystrokes are then used to infect the device with malware. HID spoofing is often used to execute commands without the device owner’s consent.

Take StuxNet for example. Discovered in 2010, this computer worm can penetrate and infect offline networks and is mainly aimed at targeting Iran’s nuclear program. StuxNet could infect a device via a simple USB stick and even use a rootkit to stay under the radar of security tools.

Therefore, you should never connect a random flash drive to your device. Even if you think it’s trustworthy, if it’s not up-to-date, it might be infected with malware.

Devices can also be infected through juice cracking, an attack that involves infecting ports and cables at public charging stations via the data transfer pins of a USB connection. If you are a regular user of public charging stations, you may be exposed to malware attacks whether your device is connected to the internet or not.

Through juicing, your device can be exposed to data theft and malware-based attacks. Your device can also completely block you by turning it off completely.

Why do you always need an antivirus?

a computer screen showing a security option

Even if you just use your device for drawing, typing, or other offline activities, you’re still at risk of being infected with malware.

Antivirus software won’t just warn you about malware; often quarantines or destroys them. While this cannot be done with all malware programs, it certainly serves as a strong first line of defense. Many antivirus programs can run without an internet connection, so this won’t be a problem if your device is never online.

In addition, most antivirus programs provide you with security recommendations to protect your device as much as possible. Even if you think you’re on top of security, there may still be some areas that act as vulnerabilities. For example, you cannot password protect your device at startup.

Antivirus Software is Important

Nobody really wants to pay for antivirus software. Most of the time it works in the background and we rarely interact with it. But such a tool can be invaluable for your device both online and offline. So, it is always better to be safe than sorry and equip your devices with a reliable antivirus service.

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