Computers are one of mankind’s greatest inventions, and by extension, the internet. Unfortunately, great inventions can be prone to problems, and computers are no exception.
One of the main issues that haunt our computers is malware and viruses. These forms of software are designed to harm the user and their equipment. Software like these has been a pain to computer users since the early 70’s! Since then, malware is plentiful and infecting your system with malware or viruses is stupidly easy. Luckily, there are programs, known as “anti-viruses”, that help protect our systems from harmful software.
Before you go and download any random anti-virus program, it’s important to learn why you need an anti-virus.
1. Intruder Identified
Computers alone can’t recognize harmful software. If you choose to download a program from a sketchy website, your computer isn’t going to stop the download and flash “STOP” on the screen. That program will instead be downloaded, free to cause harm wherever it can.
Anti-viruses can identify threats, and this is their primary job.
If you prefer safety, use an anti-virus. An anti-virus program acts as a…x-ray of sorts. When you download a file or program, the anti-virus program will scan the contents of the download. If a virus is found, the program alerts the user before continuing the download. The user then decides whether to trash the download or to keep it going.
This whole process is known as “On-Access Scanning”. The name is self-explanatory; when a file is “accessed”, a scan occurs. If it passes, that’s it. Nothing is done. If it fails, the anti-virus program alerts the user.
This is a core feature of an anti-virus. If it fails at this job, it’s not worth using.
Unfortunately, this process can’t protect us from every form of malware and viruses. New forms of this software are created on the daily, even hourly, and anti-virus programs can’t be updated that often. Instead, anti-viruses employ another technique known as heuristics.
2. What are Heuristics?
Anti-viruses comb through a list of known viruses and malware to identify any threats in files they are searching, but what happens when there are unknown threats? Anti-viruses simply employ a technique known as heuristics.
Heuristics is a technique where anti-viruses will check for any odd behavior. If a downloaded Word document is opening random files on your computer, the anti-virus notices. It will then do the same thing that anti-viruses do during scanning, except they also file a report to the owner of the anti-virus. This way, the anti-virus program can be updated to put that form of malware on the reference list.
These are the main techniques that anti-virus programs use to protect you, and the reasons why you need one. But which brand to get is entirely dependent on your anti-virus needs – do you need something all-inclusive? Something highly easy to navigate? Or simply something reputable? Do your research before plunging, while most software is reasonably priced, take an hour or two to research what tool is the best for you.
As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get malware or a virus on your computer. All it takes is one misclick. Don’t take a chance, install an anti-virus program. Look for an anti-virus with these two features, AKA any reputable one, and you will be A-ok!
| About the Guest Author:
Jack is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on topics such as whistleblowing and cyber security tools.