Earlier this week I was asked the question “Do I need virus protection for my Chromebook?” by a visitor to Everyday Linux User.
This isn’t going to be the longest article I have ever written but it is something I have decided to write about as it might be a question that gets asked again and again in the future.
Do you need antivirus software on a Chromebook?
The simple answer is no.
The Chromebook is based on Linux but is implemented in such a way that it is very hard to install anything that would compromise your device.
Your Chromebook in the default state allows you to really only use web applications and therefore the applications you use are as safe as the site that they are stored on. Turn off your computer and turn it on again and it will work exactly as it did before.
If anything goes wrong with your Chromebook it is very easy to reset it to the default factory settings and continue where you left off.
This article would be very short if I left it there but I think there are a few more things to consider that you might like to think about.
What if you decided that you wanted to dual boot Ubuntu alongside ChromeOS? Now, because you have turned on developer mode and because you have a different operating system running, your Chromebook is now only as secure as the new operating system that you have introduced.
Ubuntu and other Linux distributions aren’t known for contracting viruses but there has been the odd thing mentioned in the press. I have been using Linux for a long long time and I have never had a single nasty thing happen that is caused by malware, trojans or viruses. Quite frankly there is a lot of scaremongering in the news whenever anything happens on a UNIX or Linux device.
What you do need to do though is think about how your actions can affect other users. Imagine you receive an email from somebody and it is the proverbial dancing cat style video that makes you laugh and you decide to forward on that email to your friends.
On your Chromebook the video file has either played perfectly well or it has failed due to an error caused by a hidden nasty. If it fails then it is unlikely that you will forward it on but if it plays then you may forward it on to your friends.
Imagine that your friends use an operating system that isn’t very secure and is known for viruses. Your friends open the cat video and for them it downloads and installs something horrific like Cryptolocker. You are going to be about as popular as a flatulent car insurance singing opera singer in a lift.
Just because you can’t catch viruses on your computer doesn’t mean everyone is so lucky or as savvy as you. Of course in reality your friends should have their own anti-virus protection.
Another thing to consider is that just because viruses and malware are no longer issues doesn’t mean you can lower your guard online.
Phishing emails are just as dangerous for Chromebook users as they are for any other computer user. If somebody asks for your bank details and you aren’t sure about the site or source of the person asking for those details then politely tell them to go away.
In theory it is also possible that browser vulnerabilities exist whether you are running on a Chromebook or a Windows 8 computer.
What I am trying to highlight from this post is that if you use a Chromebook you have given yourself a great chance to remain safe from viruses but it doesn’t mean you should go gung-ho and believe that you are invincible online.
Thankyou for reading.