To understand cloud-based antivirus software, you first need to understand the cloud, which is simply a decentralized space for storing data that your computer is able to access via the internet.
Cloud-based antivirus software protects you by communicating with a threat database stored not on your computer, but rather in the cloud.
How a cloud-based antivirus works
By storing threat definitions (files categorized as malware or dangerous IPs and URLs) in the cloud rather than on a device itself, cloud-based antivirus software needn’t store all those millions of definitions on its own hard drive, freeing up space.
And since updates can be pushed to your antivirus software remotely via the cloud, you’re not stuck with a static list of threats the software knows to guard against. As soon as new threats are discovered, say by a team of threat researchers supporting your antivirus software, an update can be pushed to all devices using it. This results in near real-time protection from the constantly shifting threat landscape that exists online.
Benefits of a cloud-based antivirus solution
The existing catalog of polymorphic malware, zero-day phishing, and similarly evolving threats is massive. To house such a huge amount of data on a single endpoint would impair productivity to the point of rendering a computer nearly inoperable when a scan is run.
Luckily, major advances in cloud-based computing were made around the turn of the new millennium. For those companies able to harness the power of the cloud for antivirus software, major improvements in speed and performance awaited. Smaller installation agents meant less time and space used during installation. Fewer definitions stored on the device began to mean fewer or no interruptions for routine scans.
Beyond lightening the storage load for individual devices, definition updates— those course corrections added to software to protect against newly discovered threats—take minutes to reach the software, rather than the days or weeks it may take to make the same updates without the aid of the cloud. If you’ve ever had to wait for your computer while your antivirus software updated, you know the frustration. That’s not to mention the threats you may have been exposed to in the interim between version updates.
To recap, the benefits of cloud-based storage include:
Access to a larger threat database without having to house it on your hard drive
Smaller installation agent for your antivirus software, so it takes up less space
Near real-time definition updates based on data gathered from the entire network of users
Read more about cloud antivirus
Interested in keeping with the latest developments in cloud-based antivirus protection?
Check in with the Webroot Threat Blog, where our dedicated team of threat researchers shares their expertise and updates you on the latest threat definitions pushed to our software through the cloud.