Do you need antivirus on your Chromebook?

Have Chromebook, Will Travel
Have Chromebook, Will Travel (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

The threat of cyber crime is very real in today's digital world. Hackers are always finding new ways to bypass security measures and get into people's devices to steal their personal data.

To secure their devices and keep cyber criminals at bay, lots of people use the best antivirus solutions. However, with many technology manufacturers building security protections into their products by default, some have questioned whether antivirus software is still relevant.

Chromebooks are one of these devices. They run on the Google Chrome operating system, which sports a range of security features to protect users from falling victim to malware, viruses and other threats. As a result, there's no real need to buy and install antivirus software on your Chromebook; it would just be timely and expensive.

By using the "defence-in-depth" principle, Google has implemented multiple security layers to stop cyber criminals from hacking into Chromebooks. The idea is that there'll always be other layers of protection if one of them were to be breached by a hacker.

So it's genuinely a lot harder for cyber crooks to breach a Chromebook. Google takes the view that "while it's still important to take precautions to protect your data, Chromebooks let you breathe just a little bit easier." What sort of security features do Chromebooks come with as standard? Well, there are a few from Google:

  • Automatic updates: Keeping your device up-to-date is key to preventing cyber crime, but it's easy to lose track of security updates. Luckily, Chromebooks will automatically install updates and bug fixes, so they're always up-to-date.
  • Sandboxing: Every Chromebook uses a security method called sandboxing, which effectively contains infections and stops them from infecting the whole device. Google describes sandboxes as a "restricted environment" for all web pages and applications, ensuring infections "can't affect the other tabs or apps on the computer or anything else on the machine."
  • Verified Boot: If there were an instance when the sandbox wasn't able to contain a virus or malware infection, your Chromebook would still be safe thanks to a "self-check" process called Verified Boot. Whenever you power up your Chromebook, it'll look for potential breaches and will fix the issue if something worrying is found.
  • Data encryption: For data stored on your Chromebook (such as things you've downloaded from the internet), Google has developed "tamper-resistant" technology so that it's encrypted and cannot be breached by threat actors.
  • Recovery mode: This is the final layer of security protection on Chromebooks, and is essentially the last resort. If your computer has been breached and there's no other way to fix the issue, you're able to use recovery mode to "restore the operating system to a known good version."

Of course, these measures don't mean that Chromebooks are entirely hack-proof. With Chromebooks rising in popularity thanks to their affordability and ease-of-use, they're increasingly becoming lucrative targets for cyber criminals.

While Google has taken a number of steps to make them harder to breach, you can't guarantee that hackers won't try and be successful. If you're willing to pay the money and want to ensure your Chromebook is 100% impenetrable, it's definitely worth considering a premium antivirus solution. Be sure to check out all of our picks for the best Chromebook you can buy right now!

Nicholas Fearn