When antivirus software first came into vogue with the early rise of the Internet 20-25 years ago, picking a solution was a lot like watching television in the 1940s – you had maybe three choices and that was it.
As digital technology has penetrated more and more of the world, the threats to each user’s individual security and that of their data and system has become more and more threatened by hackers performing mischief and cybercriminals wreaking havoc. Going online without some sort of antivirus software is one of the most foolhardy things a person can do. It’s akin to leaving your front door not only unlocked but wide open when you leave for work in the morning or leaving your wallet unattended while you go to the bathroom at a restaurant.
More threats from every quarter lead to more choices in malware protection. But how to choose one and what to know what works and what doesn’t? It’s a bit like trying to buy your first car at this point. If you go in blindly, you might stumble upon a great deal or you might gravitate towards something with lots of wells and whistles that don’t really have what you need to feel safe. This blog will teach you how antivirus software works and help you pick the right one for your needs.
How Antivirus Software Works
Although antimalware programs are being upgraded all the time, an overwhelming majority of them rely on a database of definitions and signatures to seek out viruses and other forms of malware when they try to infiltrate a single machine or a network of machines. Definitions are executable files stored inside the antivirus program. If any file on a computer matches a definition, it is first quarantined from infecting anything else, then summarily destroyed. The same programs also search signatures of each file they encounter to see if it matches that of a known virus. For years this was the premier way to identify and defeat a virus, but those criminals that make malware are learning more and more ways to change the signature so it does not match existing information. Not all antivirus software do this as well as others. Some use heuristics, which is a way to identify new virus types that do not have a matching identity in a database. As the design and deployment of malware has become a 24-hour cycle, this can be very helpful as no database can possibly keep track of every virus released worldwide. Occasionally this results in what are called “false positives” – software believing a legitimate file or app is malicious. Sometimes it takes a good bit of manual intervention on the user’s part to rectify this situation.
What to Invest In?
Just like buying a car, you need to do your research and check out reviews for any antivirus software you are considering. Some quality ones are even offered free, assuming you’re only using it for yourself. Are you a business that might be scaling up in the next couple of years and will need lots of copies of the software? Does it make more sense to buy it through the cloud as a service? What kind of data are you protecting? All of these questions must be answered for you to narrow the field to a few finalists. From there, most reputable firms such as BitDefender allow you a free test drive of their antivirus software so you can see what works the best for you.