What is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software can detect, prevent, and remove malicious software from your system. The classification of malware includes viruses, worms, trojans, and scareware, as well as (depending on the scanner) some forms of potentially unwanted programs (such as adware and spyware).

At its core, the software provides signature-based detection of malware (malicious software). A virus signature (aka pattern) is based on a unique segment of code within the malware. Its typically checksummed/hashed and distributed in the form of antivirus signature updates.

Since its start in the late 1980s, antivirus software has evolved along with the threats that it protects against. As a result, today’s static signature (pattern-matching) detection is often bolstered with more dynamic behavioral-based and intrusion prevention technologies.

Anti-virus software is often the subject of contentious debate. One of the most common themes is disagreement over free versus paid antivirus. Following is a brief discussion of each of these arguments.

Antivirus Software: Free Versus Fee

There are many forms of Antivirus software. From standalone antivirus scanners to complete Internet security suites that bundle antivirus with a firewall, privacy controls, and other adjunct security protection.

Free software versions are useful for home use (sometimes extending it for small home office ) also.

Periodically, debates will ensue as to whether free antivirus is as capable as paid antivirus. There is a long-term analysis of AV-Test.org antivirus software. It suggested that paid products have higher levels of prevention and removal than free software.

On the flip side, free antivirus software tends to be less feature-rich. Hence they consume fewer system resources. Thus, it may run better on older computers or computers with limited system capacity.

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Whether you opt for paid or fee-based antivirus is a personal decision that should be based on your budget and your needs. What you should always avoid, however, are pop-ups and advertisements that promise a free antivirus scan. These ads are scareware or bogus products. They make erroneous claims that your computer is infected in order to trick you into buying a fake antivirus scanner.

Signatures Can’t Keep Up

Despite its ability to effectively field the majority of malware, a significant percentage of malware can go undetected by traditional antivirus software. To counter this, a layered security approach provides the best coverage, particularly when the layered protection is provided by different vendors. If all security is provided by a single vendor, the attack surface area becomes much larger.

As a result, any vulnerability in that vendor’s software – or a missed detection can be very harmful. It can have a far more adverse impact than would occur in a more diverse environment.

The anti-virus software is not a catch-all for every bit of malware out there and additional layers of security are needed. Software should be at the core of any protection system you decide upon. It will be the workhorse that detects the majority of threats.

Antivirus Vendors Write Viruses

The conspiracy theory that antivirus vendors write viruses is an old, silly, and completely unfounded notion. The accusation is akin to claiming that doctors create disease or that police rob banks in exchange for job security.

There are literally millions of malware, with upwards of tens of thousands of new threats discovered daily. If antivirus vendors wrote the malware, there would be far less of it as no one in the antivirus industry is a glutton for punishment.

Criminals and attackers write and distribute malware. Software vendor employees work long and arduous hours to ensure your computer is kept safe from the onslaught.

That’s all for antiviruses. If you have any queries then let us know from the comments section below.

Also, let us know which antivirus software you are using and trust the most?


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