The term computer virus was inherited from the real-world virus because of their many similar behaviors. Both virus and computer virus's primary goal is to attack an entity by infection, multiply itself to other accessible entities, and live off by using the host resources.
However, one critical difference is, unlike the real-world virus that arrives and fades with a life span driven by the seasonal changes, computer viruses are naturally immortal and are active all year round. Without proper protection installed, your computer can be infected at any moment or be attacked continuously forever if already infected.
The thoughts and efforts dedicated to creating tactical viruses are extremely advanced, it is nearly impossible for users to remove a virus once infected. Fortunately, we have a solution, the only cure to a computer virus is antivirus software.
How does Antivirus Software Work
Antivirus is an application or software program designed to protect your computer by constantly scanning files and networks to terminate any detected viruses. The best way to deal with viruses is to prevent being infected in the first place, therefore antivirus also supports virus prevention features to ensure prior safety. To defend against constantly evolving virus tactics, modern antiviruses are also capable to identify different types of malware such as spyware, ransomware, Trojans, phishing, keylogger, computer worms, and browser attacks.
Running an antivirus scan on your computer usually performs the following process.
- Scan files and hard drives specified by the user, including external devices connected through USB or shared network.
- During the scan, each file gets inspected using the threat references stored in the antivirus database.
- When a potential threat is found, based on the severity the program will either prompt the user about the incident and ask what action to take, or dynamically terminate the virus.
The scheduling feature is often used by users who prefer running the scan when there is less impact in effecting their computer usage. Some scan features provide different scopes, such as quick scan and full scan, to maximize the efficiency of the performance by omitting certain static files that have less chance to be infected.
Windows computer has been the primary target of virus, therefore most antivirus vendors offer layers of Windows support products. A wide choice of selection comes with a wide range of prices including the free and trial versions. Paid version usually comes with a convenient auto-update feature to ensure vulnerability against any newly discovered virus will be quickly patched. Applying security on emails and weblinks events are critical features due to the high demand for Windows computers' office usage.
macOS is known to have fewer viruses compare to Windows, which makes the market much smaller for antivirus vendors to support macOS. Yet there is several antivirus software designed for macOS platforms, both free and paid versions.
Security experts highly advise Android owners to install antivirus software because of the increasing threats against the device. Many free Android antivirus software is available on GooglePlay with high reviews, yet to ensure reliable protection the paid version wins the vote. Mobile antiviruses are intended to prevent infection instead of removing virus, therefore if your device is already infected it is recommended to reach out to a service specialize in virus removal.
What are the Types of Antivirus Software?
Standalone antivirus is an independent feature designed specifically to scan files and applications to terminate detected viruses. Despite its concentration toward a specialty in detecting viruses, the overall capability to protect against various types of virus infection attacks is insufficient. Since standalone antivirus can be stored and executed from USB drives, it is also known as Portable Antivirus that can be used to scan devices without installation.
Security Suite is a comprehensive antivirus application endorsed with a variety of features. In addition to virus detection, most security suite comes with a package of email scanner, network firewall, and browser protection. Software is constantly updated with vulnerability patches when the vendor discovers a solution for new threats. Some vender also provides unique functionalities such as VPN service, password manager and other security best practices.
Cloud antivirus is a new type of antivirus solution that reduces the client's resource usage by delegating the workload to a cloud server. While the traditional security suit requires the client to install and run the entire application package on their desktop computer, the cloud solution runs a small client-side program that communicates with the server-side program running on the vendor's server. Files are sent to the server program where it gets analyzed with a validation response.
How to Choose Antivirus
Finding the right antivirus software can be quite challenging due to the intense market competition and a growing number of vendors. Additionally, selecting the product that fits your specific needs requires detail comparison by considering many aspects including supported features, performance vs resource consumption, OS compatibility, and type of security threats that specializes.
Some people may choose the free version to cut the cost, however, this may not be a good choice when it comes to investing in security.
- Viruses are evolving daily and some free antivirus software may lack the latest defense patches.
- Free editions are supported by advertisements, you never know it may be malware itself.
- To be secure from various types of malware attacks antivirus requires a comprehensive protection feature, which free version might not support.
For confident protection against modern virus attacks, we do want to rely on a well-dedicated product. Luckily there are many discounted antivirus software available on the market that comes with a full suite protection support.