What is the main purpose of antivirus software?
If you are reading this, you are likely familiar with computer viruses and how they can damage your computer, steal your sensitive information, and more. Protecting yourself online is extremely important, so you owe it to yourself to find the best antivirus software.
What are Computer Viruses?
A computer virus is a program that when activated, duplicates itself by altering other computer programs and adding its own code. If these alterations succeed, the altered areas are considered “infected” in the same way that biological viruses infect healthy cells of a person’s body.
Viruses typically work through a host program. When the host program is opened, the virus is activated, spreading into the computer system at large, causing infection and damage.
Viruses are used for a variety of malicious purposes, such as stealing banking information, committing identity theft, hijacking control of computers remotely, committing practical jokes, and more.
While individual viruses vary in terms of their abilities and scope, virus infections cause billions of dollars of damage per year and can lead to loss of personal information, money, and more.
How Can Viruses Infect Your Computer?
Viruses can infect your computer through a number of different methods, including unsafe attachments, shady websites, phishing attacks, deceptive browser ads, and more.
A common method that hackers use to spread computer viruses is through phishing. Users will receive emails pretending to be from trusted sources, such as their banking institutions, tricking them into downloading suspicious attachments or clicking on links that will install viruses onto their computers.
Additionally, viruses are often embedded in software programs and files found on websites containing pirated media, and they can even sometimes spread via certain website ads. Some viruses also exploit security vulnerabilities in software programs in order to propagate.
How an Antivirus Works
Given the danger that viruses represent, you’ll want to protect yourself with the best antivirus software. But how does antivirus software work?
The main purpose of antivirus software is to guard your computer from viruses and malware. Antivirus programs, when installed, run in the background of your computer at all times. Upon detecting viruses and/or malware, these programs remove them from your system.
Attempting to remove viruses on your own is not advised because viruses can embed themselves anywhere on your computer. Antivirus programs can automatically identify viruses, isolate them, and get rid of them without you needing to do anything else!
How Antivirus Software Identifies Malware
Antivirus programs such as Windows Defender, Norton AntiVirus, and others maintain a continuously updated database of known viruses and malware. This database is based on user reports and information collected by security researchers and allows these programs to keep your computer safe as new threats emerge.
To ensure that your antivirus program can always keep you protected, it’s best to keep it up to date. Virtually all antivirus software has an auto-update feature that will download the latest database updates as soon as they become available, so you don’t have to keep track of it yourself.
Features of Modern Antiviruses
Given how many different types of antivirus software are out there, you might be wondering what to look for when selecting one. Here are five features you should be on the lookout for when determining the best antivirus software for you:
- Real-time/dynamic scanning. Quality antivirus programs have the ability to scan your system continuously and eliminate viruses and malware as soon as they appear, before they can pose a threat to their computer. While all antivirus programs can scan your system for threats, many only feature manual scanning, requiring you to specifically scan your computer for viruses and malware; real-time scanning allows you to nip threats in the bud.
- Support for multiple apps. The best antivirus software is able to protect you from threats regardless of which app you are using.
- Auto-update. A good antivirus program should have automatic updates, as mentioned earlier. This allows the program to continuously stay current on the latest threats and keep you from having to update it yourself.
- Automatic deletion. A number of antivirus programs will only quarantine viruses and malware upon detecting them, forcing users to manually delete them from the computer. The best antivirus software includes auto-delete features that will eliminate viruses and malware upon detection, saving you the trouble of having to do it on your own.
- Comprehensive protection. Some antivirus and anti-malware programs are only designed to protect against a specific type of threat. You ideally want to select an antivirus program that can guard against all types of threats, from viruses to malware and more.
What is the Best Antivirus Software?
There are countless varieties of antivirus software available on the Internet, some of which are free; others must be purchased. Additionally, some operating systems now come with antivirus protection built in; for example, newer versions of Windows come with Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
The best antivirus software for you ultimately depends on your particular needs. While there are a number of core features that any quality antivirus program should have, numerous programs available are able to protect you when you log onto the Internet. Whether you use a free program or a paid one is entirely up to you based on the level of protection you feel you need!
Additionally, on top of using antivirus software, you can protect yourself from viruses by following a number of best practices. These include avoiding opening suspicious email attachments and clicking dodgy links, as well as keeping your operating system and all of your software up to date.
Antivirus Software in 2023: The Bottom Line
Viruses and malware are no joke. If your computer isn’t secured when you go online, it can easily become infected, costing you time, money, and more. You owe it to yourself to keep this from happening.
By using antivirus software, you can keep your computer safe from hackers and viruses and guard your personal information when you use the Internet.