Do I Need Antivirus Software For Google Chromebooks?

in Online Security

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Whether you use a Google Chromebook for work, school, gaming, or video streaming, keeping your device protected from malware is crucial. Here’s my list of the best antivirus software for Chromebook to stay ahead of the latest cyber threats.

When Chromebook devices first came onto the scene, they were somewhat limited and only allowed you to use Google’s products and apps from the Play Store.

Since then, Chromebooks have gone mainstream and, as such, have become as diverse and flexible as devices run by Apple or Microsoft’s operating systems. With the steady release of apps like Adobe Acrobat and Office360, you can now do everything you want with a Chromebook.

However, with increased usability (and popularity) comes increased risk. As soon as the technology becomes mainstream, it catches the eye of cyber criminals and hackers.

Chromebook is known for having excellent protection against malware threats but is it enough? Or should you purchase additional third-party antivirus software?

Let’s find out.

TL;DR: Chromebook is one of the most secure devices available on the market today. It is immune from viruses and most types of malware. However, you’re still vulnerable to identity theft and spyware, so it may still be worth purchasing third-party antivirus protection.

Why Don’t Chromebooks Get Viruses?

First, let’s dig a little into the difference between Chromebook and other operating systems such as Windows and macOS.

The Chromebook operating system entirely runs on Android apps. You cannot do anything with a Chromebook unless you are using Google’s own apps or apps available from the Android Play Store.

chromebook os

This is important when looking at how computer viruses behave.

Viruses self-replicate and infect the operating system of a computer. But, to do this, they actually need access to the operating system, which is something that Chromebook doesn’t allow.

Each app operates and runs within a restricted environment known as a sandbox, and while data can run in and out of the sandbox, it cannot spill over into other areas.

So a virus could enter your Chromebook via an app, but since it cannot access any other area of the device, it can only move around the app and then leave again.

This setup makes it entirely pointless for cybercriminals to develop viruses for Chromebook.

On the other hand, Windows and macOS allow you to pretty much access and download whatever you want so long as it’s compatible with the operating system in question. And, when you download something, it needs to access the operating system to be placed there.

This leaves the door wide open for viruses and other types of malware to enter the system and do their thing.

Is Chromebook Secure Against Other Malware Threats?

Remember the good old days when you didn’t even need antivirus protection for Apple Mac computers because its user base was so tiny? Well, that changed as soon as Apple shot into the mainstream.

Now, all Apple devices need antivirus protection, just the same as Windows-operated devices. 

There is no doubt that Chromebooks are popular, but they still only make up less than two per cent of the market share. On the other hand, Windows has a whopping 76%, while macOS has 14%. If you were a cybercriminal, which operating system would you target?

Furthermore, Chrome does not allow app developers to modify the firmware after an app has been released. This prevents any malicious code from being inserted later down the line and stops hackers from installing files or making changes to your Chromebook.

Lastly, you cannot download .exe files onto Chromebook, and this is the preferred way for a lot of malware to arrive on your device. Since Chromebook does not support this file type, it greatly reduces the risk of your device becoming infected.

So, Is Chromebook Completely Immune to Malware?

Chromebook is one of the best devices to buy if you want to be safe from viruses and other types of malware. However, you’re not 100% safe, and Chromebook does have a few vulnerabilities.

Here’s what you need to watch out for:

  • Phishing: Googlemail does a pretty efficient job of sorting spam from genuine emails, but it doesn’t catch everything. Therefore, you must remain vigilant toward any phishing emails.
  • Dangerous or insecure websites: Chromebook does have web filters to prevent you from accessing dodgy websites, but it’s not 100% effective.
  • Fake browser extensions: This is where you need to pay the most attention. Fake browser extensions can spy on you, phish you, and expose you to adware. Only download extensions from known sources.
  • Scam Android apps: Very occasionally, a bad app sneaks through Google’s detection filters and can flood your Chromebook with malware. Beware of apps that have few or zero reviews or seem a bit “off.”

Does Chromebook Have Its Own Antivirus?

Chromebook does have its own antivirus software built into the operating system. It runs silently in the background and regularly updates itself to add the latest virus definitions to its directory.

chromebook security

You’ve probably noticed that Chrome and other Google apps require frequent updating. While mildly annoying to do, it’s actually essential for keeping your device safe because these updates often include security patches.

This means that on the extremely rare occasion that malware may find its way onto your Chromebook, it won’t be there long because the security patch will find and deal with it.

Chromebook also performs a verified boot – a rigorous security check – every time you start up your device and has a built-in security chip to keep your data safe.

Finally, I’ve already mentioned the sandbox technique that keeps different software separate and prevents apps from infecting each other.

Do I Need Third-Party Antivirus for Chromebook?

So now we know how good Chromebook is at keeping that pesky malware at bay; this begs the question; “Do I even need extra antivirus for Chromebook?”

The biggest thing you need to worry about when using your Chromebook is having your personal information stolen via phishing etc. This can lead to identity theft and a whole host of other issues.

This is not something that Chromebook can fully protect you against, so having a third-party antivirus, in this case, is useful.

You may also want some of the extra features that antivirus software often provides. For example, Chromebook does not come with its own VPN, while many antivirus software applications include one for free.

Ultimately, it’s down to you and how safe you feel you can keep your information while browsing online.

If you stick to known websites such as Facebook, Amazon, etc., and aren’t in the habit of filling in online forms, then you’ll likely find that the Chromebook gives you enough protection.

On the other hand, if you enjoy discovering unknown corners of the internet and want the added security you get with a VPN, you will benefit from having a third-party antivirus.

What is the Best Antivirus for Chromebook?

If you’ve decided to bulk up your security with an extra antivirus software application, here are my top three recommendations for Chromebook:

1. BitDefender

bitdefender chromebook antivirus software

BitDefender is known for providing feature-packed plans and exceptional antivirus protection.

As well as having a near 100% success rate in malware detection, you also have protection while browsing the web, an email breach checking tool, identity theft protection, and an app lock.

If you get stuck, you can enjoy quick and friendly support 24/7

BitDefender also comes complete with its own VPN so you can browse safely and securely. Mind that this is limited to 200MB per day.

You can cover your Chromebook for as little as $14.99/year, plus try it out for free for 30-days.

2. Norton360

norton chromebook antivirus

Norton has been around since the dawn of the internet and has successfully managed to keep up with ever-changing technology.

Norton360 is an all-encompassing package that includes all the security features you need for a nearly 100% threat detection rate.

Additionally, you get parental controls, dark web monitoring, identity theft protection, and a password manager. You also get full protection from credit card and social security fraud.

Protect your Chromebook from $14.99/year but make sure you first take advantage of the seven-day free trial.

3. TotalAV


TotalAV is a tried and trusted antivirus software provider that provides comprehensive protection for Chromebook devices. Available as an Android app, the software checks for threats each time you download or use an app.

The service also includes an app lock, data breach detector, and web filter to block malicious content and keep your data safe.

Best of all, TotalAV comes with a free VPN so you can securely browse open networks and keep your online activity anonymous.

With plans available from $29/year, it’s an affordable way to get that extra protection for your Chromebook. Try for free for seven days.

If you’re interested in learning more about the top antivirus software for 2024, check out my full article.

Questions & Answers

Wrap Up

Chromebooks really are excellent – and affordable – pieces of tech and are reliably safe against malware threats. The average user will find Chromebook’s inbuilt security perfectly adequate for everyday browsing and use.

However, those that like to explore the reaches of the world wide web may want to add an additional layer of security and get a third-party antivirus installed.


About Author

Matt Ahlgren

Mathias Ahlgren is the CEO and founder of Website Rating, steering a global team of editors and writers. He holds a master's in information science and management. His career pivoted to SEO after early web development experiences during university. With over 15 years in SEO, digital marketing, and web developmens. His focus also includes website security, evidenced by a certificate in Cyber Security. This diverse expertise underpins his leadership at Website Rating.

WSR Team

The "WSR Team" is the collective group of expert editors and writers specializing in technology, internet security, digital marketing, and web development. Passionate about the digital realm, they produce well-researched, insightful, and accessible content. Their commitment to accuracy and clarity makes Website Rating a trusted resource for staying informed in the dynamic digital world.

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