There’s a debate raging on the internet about how secure Chromebooks are. The simple answer is that they are just as secure as Windows or Mac computers. The more complicated answer depends on how you are using your Chromebook.
Are you using it for personal browsing only, or are you running anything related to your business? Do you have devices connected to your network? Are you using them at home, or out in the world via public Wi-Fi hotspots? Hopefully after reading this article, you will have a better idea of whether your Chromebook needs antivirus protection.
Google has recently released the most powerful Chromebook to date, and it has many people thinking about whether or not they need antivirus protection on their laptops. A Chromebook is a computer that runs Chrome OS, Google’s cloud-based operating system.
This article will first summarize how malware affects computers, then I will compare Chrome OS to Windows and Mac OS, evaluate the risks of using a Chromebook, recommend antivirus software for Chromebooks, and share some background information on why Google built Chrome OS the way it is.
Does a Chromebook Virus Exist?
Although the Chrome OS is more secure than other operating systems, it is still possible to get infected. If you have a Chromebook, there are a few security features you should be aware of. While this article can’t guarantee that your Chromebook will never be infected, it should help keep you protected while browsing the web.
It’s true that Chromebooks enjoy extra protection against exploits that target operating system bugs. This means that, for example, keylogger software is not likely to work at all on your Chromebook unless the attacker tricks you into installing and running it yourself. Some savvy users may recall an old vulnerability called MouseJack, which allowed attackers to gain control of un-jailbroken Bluetooth mice using radio signals.
Computer viruses are basically self-replicating programs that can infect computers when they are executed or run. It is important to understand the difference between computer viruses and computer worms. Although both are forms of malicious software, worms are actually able to replicate themselves across a network without user interaction. Computer worms, along with Trojans, typically come into a system via email attachments. They then execute themselves in the background, unbeknownst to the user, in order to spread their payload to other systems.
Viruses can be especially harmful if they infect your central processing unit (CPU) without you knowing it. Fortunately, Chromebooks are much less vulnerable to virus attacks compared to other operating systems like Windows since they are installed in an entirely different architecture. This is because when you install software on a Chromebook, it doesn’t really download apps, but makes use of web applications in the Chrome browser instead.
Do Chromebooks get viruses easily?
Chrome OS doesn’t allow any downloads to be performed on your Chromebook. The only way you can get something new is to have it installed from the web. And if you need to sideload an app or program, you have to go through a special procedure that involves downloading an ARC file and using a tool called ARC Welder. Yes, this does still mean that some viruses can infect Chromebooks. But they are different types of viruses compared with ones on Windows or Mac systems because they are “containerized.”
Some viruses trick users by hiding their icons, but Chromebooks have a special process known as Verified Boot that prevents this from happening. If you notice your Chromebook acting strangely, just restart it. This will only take a few minutes and puts your Chromebook back into a healthy state.
In addition, all apps on Chrome OS are run in a sandbox, which prevents them from being able to access system files. In addition, all Chromebooks have verified boot capabilities. This means that not only do you need to log in when starting up the device, it will check everything on the device at every stage of booting to make sure its functioning properly. If the device has any corruptions or infections, Chromebook will revert back to the last time it was completely working.
Can a Chromebook get a virus?
It depends on your definition of the word ‘virus.’ There is no “Chromebook virus” per se, but since Google provides sandboxed browsers and apps for use on its devices, you can get infected by visiting sites that host malicious code.
The short answer: no. The long answer: It’s highly unlikely for a virus infection to occur, but that doesn’t mean that your Chromebook remains malware free.
The Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel, so it’s unlikely that viruses will ever do much harm on Chrome OS. Viruses are just another form of malware targeted towards systems running Microsoft Windows. Since viruses need to run code in order to infect a system or display anything, they don’t work on operating systems that don’t allow them to run at all.
With Chromebooks, Linux is now accessible for people who couldn’t use it before. Chromebooks were limited to the operating system they came with; either Chrome OS or Android. Now, if you want to install Linux apps then you can do that on any Chromebook that supports this functionality.
But, is the sandbox concept enough to protect Chromebooks?
A sandbox’s virtual environment is created by an operating system kernel, most commonly Linux. When the sandbox is running, nothing in the system can provide information to or access information from the virtual environment though the two are running simultaneously. A good sandbox also has additional security measures that prohibit potentially malicious applications or files from accessing unauthorized data or resources on remote machines.
Sandboxes are used for a variety of reasons in the cybersecurity world, but there are different types that exist. The malicious code sandbox uses virtualization to simulate an actual operating system. This allows the malicious code to run in its own environment without affecting anything else.
There are advantages of using a sandbox to help protect your network infrastructure. According to CyberArk , virtualization is considered to be one type of sandbox that enables the user to run processes in an artificial environment where they can perform certain tasks or activities that may be restricted on the hardware or in real life, without being able to affect the actual real-world machine. A web search with Google will show you plenty of examples of companies who use sandboxes for many reasons beyond support virus removal. It’s proven, it works and it has been implemented in the corporate world by the likes of Cisco, IBM, Symantec, McAfee and others.
With the emergence of malware like ransomware and banking Trojans, many people are understandably concerned about their data. Well-educated consumers know not to click on links in emails; they understand how it can lead to computer viruses and other types of cyberattacks.
While Sandboxing on Chromebooks ensures security, an antivirus and internet protection software with a good VPN provides better security. All these provide multiple layer of security and your Chromebook data will be much safer then before.
Fake and malicious Extensions
Chrome OS and Chrome Browser extensions aren’t perfect. In fact, extensions can sometimes be more vulnerable to malware. Take the recent fake Adblock Plus extension for example — it was downloaded by thousands of Chrome users, which is a lot.
There are various types of fake extensions you can encounter, but many of them are quite similar. For example, the simplest type of extension that pretends to be something it’s not is one that claims to be a browser enhancement or plugin.
Here is how to tell if a Chrome extension is fake.
The Chrome store contains thousands of extensions varying from simple browser enhancements to ones that can help you get ahead in your chosen profession, but it can be difficult to know which ones you can trust and which ones may actually do more harm than good.
There are a number of Chrome extensions that have been maliciously compromised and modified to run spyware, adware or phishing links. According to Google’s review process, third party files should only be loaded from the developer’s servers. The third party files should also be digitally verified by the developer for authenticity. However, this method of verification is not perfect because there are still loopholes which can trick developers into downloading malicious files.
Tips for Protecting your Chromebook
What do you do? Does it have a virus or a bunch of browser extensions that have something unusual? Well, chances are, it’s one of the former. The Chromebook isn’t plagued by the same kind of malware problems as other devices because ChromeOS is based around VMs and not apps – whether from Google Play or the Chrome Web Store. In fact, the majority of people who use Chromebooks never even install any apps from Google Play at all, relying instead on web apps and extensions from the Chrome Web Store to get by.
Chromebook users are often asked by friends and family what to do if their Chromebook seems like it’s “not working right.” While very few users actually get viruses on Chromebooks, the number of times that people might feel like they have a virus is much higher. After all, there is very little difference in how a computer reacts when you get a bad piece of software versus an actual virus.
Your goal is to fix your Chromebook. To begin, start with the most recent browser extension you installed, remove that extension first. Then go backward on the list of installs, removing each one until your issue is resolved. If you can’t find where to remove it (for example, if an extension was removed by another but left some kind of trace), reboot your Chromebook first (it’s called a “verified reboot”).
In the event that a Chromebook ever becomes compromised, there is really only one thing you can do to eliminate the threat: a complete wipe and reinstallation of the operating system. This process is also known as a “recovery.”
Get an antivirus:
There’s a lot you can do to keep your Chromebook faster, but not much that can protect it from everything. The built-in virus protection keeps you safe from most threats, but if you want full coverage, do a little research and pick up a program that keeps an eye on every nook and cranny of your laptop.
➡ Mobile Security: Android vs iOS -Which Is more Secure?
While Google has taken security measures to ensure that your Chromebook is safe when you use it, by no means can these measures be considered full-proof. Make sure you protect your Chromebook by using antivirus software in addition to the built-in protection. Be sure to look for software with anti-phishing programs, website checkers, and email scanners in addition to the basic anti-virus capabilities.
➡ Best antivirus for Mac – MacBook : Free and Paid
You can help keep your data safe on a Chromebook by investing in antivirus software. It might seem unnecessary, but even Chromebooks have been vulnerable to viruses, so it’s important that you invest in some protection.
Use a VPN for Chromebook
The Chromebook is a simple machine that is very difficult to infect with malware. It’s a safe choice for someone who isn’t computer savvy and who travels a lot since it doesn’t do much when offline anyway. The included antivirus software will keep you from picking up any man-in-the-middle attacks when you connect to public networks, but you could still expose your personal information by not using a VPN service if you’re doing things like checking email in a coffee shop.
It’s not enough to just have a strong antivirus and strong anti-malware protection on your computer. A real good VPN service will hide your location and encrypt your behavior so you can more safely hide from hackers, government agencies, and businesses that might try to get more information on you than you wish to share.
➡ How does VPN work? What does a VPN do?
Antivirus software is not recommended or necessary on Chromebooks. However, if you still want to make sure your information remains safe on this portable computer, you can use anti-theft protection.
Being vigilant with your Chromebook’s Internet connection will prevent most threats to your unit. Keeping it up to date, following the warnings on websites you visit, and being smart about what you click on can keep your Chromebook secure.
➡ Benefits of VPN – Advantages and Pros of Using VPN
All of this may sound like overkill, but the truth is, it’s not. And we can’t stress enough — don’t let your personal safety online become a joke. Take precautions to protect yourself and your family from the very real dangers out there. In the end, something as basic as a few extra minutes or a little bit of effort can go a long way toward keeping Chromebook and your data safe from hackers.
Taking these precautions and using these methods should give you peace of mind and help keep your Chromebook in tip-top shape. I’m sure I haven’t covered everything, so if anyone has additional security measures they use on their Chromebooks, feel free to leave them in the comments section or send me an email.
With all of this being said, you’re now equipped with the knowledge you need to protect your Chromebook from cyber criminals. Don’t be afraid to be safe online!