Antivirus software is a program or set of programs that are designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses, and other malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, and more.
Why Do I Need Antivirus Software?
These tools are critical for users to have installed and up-to-date because a computer without antivirus software protection will be infected within minutes of connecting to the internet. The bombardment is constant, which means antivirus companies have to update their detection tools regularly to deal with the more than 60,000 new pieces of malware created daily.
Hackers are targeting remote workers. Learn how to stay safe while out of the office in our Work from Home Playbook.
Today's malware (an umbrella term that encompasses computer viruses) changes appearance quickly to avoid detection by older, definition-based antivirus software. Viruses can be programmed to cause damage to your device, prevent a user from accessing data, or to take control of your computer.
What Does AntiVirus Software Do?
Several different companies build antivirus software and what each offer can vary but all perform some essential functions:
- Scan specific files or directories for any malware or known malicious patterns
- Allow you to schedule scans to automatically run for you
- Allow you to initiate a scan of a particular file or your entire computer, or of a CD or flash drive at any time.
- Remove any malicious code detected –sometimes you will be notified of an infection and asked if you want to clean the file, other programs will automatically do this behind the scenes.
- Show you the ‘health’ of your computer
Always be sure you have the best, up-to-date security software installed to protect your computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
How Does Antivirus Software Work?
Many antivirus software programs still download malware definitions straight to your device and scan your files in search of matches. But since, as we mentioned, most malware regularly morphs in appearance to avoid detection, Webroot works differently. Instead of storing examples of recognized malware on your device, it stores malware definitions in the cloud. This allows us to take up less space, scan faster, and maintain a more robust threat library.
Free vs Paid Antivirus Software
From banking to baby photos, so much of our business and personal data live on our devices. If it were stored physically, paying for a security solution would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, we often expect our online data to remain secure without lifting a finger or spending a cent. Companies claiming to do it for free are partly responsible for the confusion, to be sure. But consumers should insist on features like identity theft protection, mobile security, and support options when it comes to their data security, too—features usually lacking with free solutions.