Antivirus protection for Microsoft Surface. Is it needed?

If you have a new Microsoft Surface tablet you may be concerned about how secure your data would be and if you needed to install antivirus protection. You may also wonder if there were any free security or antivirus software available for Surface. Let us try to find the answers here.

Antivirus protection for Surface

Antivirus protection for Surface

Microsoft Surface RT  tablets, run on the Windows RT operating system which is ARM based, as a result of which, the typical malware which are written for the standard Windows desktop operating system, may not work, and hence will be ineffective in infecting these tablets.

Moreover, it is not possible for users to install the regular desktop software on them. Only Windows Store apps can be installed on them. Microsoft protects the Windows Store and ensures a high security standard for the apps made available for download there. Nevertheless, you will have to be careful in ensuring that PUP’s do not creep in when you go on to install apps.

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Malware written for ARM devices are limited in their attack capabilities and they usually exploit applications and emulators that run on them. However it is possible that malicious scripts could be downloaded via the Internet, a compromised web page or the email. So although Windows Defender will keep you protected, you cannot afford to let your guard down.  It is worth mentioning that Java and Flash are the two most commonly used attack vectors and they allow malware to run on almost any device including ARM devices. So make sure that all your apps, OS, etc, is patched at all times.

And what about malware infections that may creep in, via USB pen drives? The AutoPlay functionality has been disabled on Surface, and hence the malware will not execute automatically.

Considering all these factors, the built-in Windows Defender should be good enough to protect it. In any case, as mentioned, you cannot install third-party security software on it. You can install only Windows Store apps.

For Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, while Windows Defender does a fine job, you may install a third-party security software if you wish, just like you do on your Windows 10 / 8.1 laptop or PC. Surface Pro runs on the standard Windows 8 operating system, which allows you to install 3rd-party desktop software and hence you can use any antivirus software to protect your Surface, and take the usual precautions to secure Windows.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.