WHAT IS ANTIVIRUS (anti-virus) SOFTWARE?
Antivirus (anti-virus) is a software computer program that is installed on computers, servers, workstations, laptops, tablets and even smartphones and is used to prevent, search for, detect, and remove malicious software, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, adware and more. Antivirus is in simple terms there to safeguard your computer or other internet enabled devices against the growing threats.
In many cases, those without antivirus installed and up-to-date could be infected with any type of the many threats. Antivirus companies update their antivirus software detection tools database constantly to deal with thousands of new pieces of malware created daily.
A computer virus is simply a piece of computer code created maliciously to cause all sorts of trouble. These viruses have the ability to duplicate themselves and send copies of itself to other computers through the internet. Viruses are now only a small part of the many infections out there that can infect your system; these include Trojans, worms, adware, spyware, phishing, keyloggers, hijackers and many more.
How do I know if I have a virus?
One of the most common symptoms of a virus is a computer running very slowly or freezing. However, there can be other reasons for a computers slow performance, including a hard disk that is nearly full or needs defragmenting, or it needs more memory (RAM) because the programs installed use more memory, even the existence of spyware or adware can slow it down.
If your computer seems busy all the time, files have moved, odd error messages, programs failing unexpectedly or even when browsing the internet you are redirected to different websites you may have a virus.
Free or Paid for Antivirus?
Free antivirus software generally only searches your computer using signature-based detection which involves looking for patterns of data that are known to be related to already-identified malware.
Paid antivirus software will usually also include heuristics to catch new, or zero-day threats, by either using genetic signatures to identify new variants of existing virus code or by running the file in a virtual environment (also called a sandbox), and watching what it does to see if it has malicious intent.
To help prevent the most current viruses, you must update your antivirus software regularly. You can set up most types of antivirus software to update automatically.
Safe computing practices, such as not downloading and executing unknown programs from the Internet, would slow the spread of viruses, without the need of anti-virus software but this will never happen as you will always get those wanting to try and download music and films etc. illegally, and these files can be rife with threats. Also adult websites are another risky area.
Computer users should not always run with administrator access to their own machine. If they would simply run in user mode then some types of viruses would not be able to spread.
There are continuous arguments about whether or not anyone should install antivirus (AV) software. In the end, it is up to you if you install this on your system. Business users always have antivirus (AV) installed with the view it is always better to be protected than to leave things to chance.