Today we got an email from a reader who recently switched from Windows to Chrome, asking us what Chromebook antivirus solution works best for his new machine. As I searched the web, I found that users that are not yet familiar with Chrome are constantly asking if their Chromebook needs an antivirus solution. Even though there is a quite short answer to this question (No), I would like to go a little bit into further detail regarding how exactly these types of machines are protected by Google and what supplementary steps an average user can take, in order to keep certain kind of threats away.
How Google removed the need of a Chromebook antivirus software.
As I stated above, there is no need to install any antivirus software on your Chromebook. But why is that? According to Google itself their operating system uses a security algorithm called “defense in depth”, meaning that any threat to the OS that manages to bypass one layer of defence, find itself blocked by the next one located below the first one. Even though it is considered one of the most secure operating system up to date.
Chrome OS Security
It is not hard to imagine why having the latest operating system with all the latest security and bug fixes running on your Chromebook is one of the best way to keep threats out. On regular machines that tend to be filled will all kinds of software and drives, an operating system update would be a tedious task, but not for Chrome. The system automatically updates when needed meaning that you are always protected.
Browsing the the web or opening a certain app designed for your Chromebook is performed in a secured and restricted area. This is called sandboxing and it basically means that even though the user is directed to a corrupted or infected page or uses a hijacked extension, the threat is quarantined and can not spread to other tabs or the rest of the system.
In a worst case scenario, even though the threat finds a way out of the sandbox, your Chromebook would still be secured. After each system restart, when the OS loads, it performs an auto-diagnose procedure named Verified Bot. If any of the system files have been changed or additional code is inserted, Verified Bot simply rewrites everything and you will find yourself again running a stable and secured OS.
As you well know most of the data and apps on a Chromebook are linked to the Cloud , meaning that they are secured. Small amount of data however , stays on your computer like cached files, cookies or downloads. For this reason all the personal files present on the machine are encrypted using tampering proof hardware and are not easily accessed by anyone who may want to steal it.
Last but not least Chromebook users that face other problems or suspect something malicious is tempering with their machine can enter Recovery Mode and restore the whole system to a previous and stable version. A full guide on how this can be achieved can be found here.
In conclusion, these security measures used for designing Chrome OS makes the idea of a native Chromebook antivirus obsolete, so you do not need to install any additional software to protect your machine.