Both devices have had a history of being targets by adversaries looking to exploit the information you currently possess. It is important to realize that, although not all anti-virus softwares are all-inclusive for protection against certain forms of attack, most have evolved to incorporate a wider variety of protection – not just protection against viruses.
This protection includes, but is not limited to:
Automatic Application Sandboxing
Any malicious code executed within a “sandboxed” application will ultimately be run within the bounds of what the application can reach. Sandboxed environments can add an additional layer of protection, especially when used in conjunction with a web browser. Web browsers are a very popular method of attacking a system, and a lot of trusted websites can have malicious banner ads that redirect communications or even install malicious software on your computer.
For instance, a sandboxed version of Google Chrome or Firefox would not be able to navigate beyond the application itself. In the event of a successful attack against a “sandboxed” browser, the attacker would only be able to grab information from the software that was attacked, rather than the whole operating system. Sandboxing is an important feature included in modern anti-virus applications that could make 90% of all web-browser based attacks effectively disappear.
Passive and Active Virus and Intrusion Prevention
Some of the best paid-for antivirus programs aren’t only good at scanning for content, they are also pretty good at preventing malicious content from taking over your device. Most free anti-virus programs only protect you from each individual scan of your device. It is important to purchase anti-virus software so that your anti-virus program will protect you passively, instead of only when each scan is run.
Password Vaults and Credential Keepers
Some antivirus programs double as a “Last Pass-like” application to ensure that your passwords are kept in an encrypted database, instead of a text or word document (even sticky notes!). The only way to access this database of passwords is to know the original password you created to keep them safe in the first place.
Security Firewall Applications
All major anti-virus brands include a more robust security firewall application that will effectively screen programs connecting through it, and could provide valuable insight as to what is, or what isn’t deemed to be a trusted application running on a computer. Each operating system has their own built-in software firewall that aims to do this, but they can lack timely security updates. Essentially, built-in firewall software is much easier to circumvent if the OS is attacked directly than say, a 3rd party anti-virus software is capable of detecting.