A PC without an antivirus installed and running will likely be infected within minutes of connecting to the internet. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure because once your computer is infected, it is very likely you will suffer some of vital data loss or damage before the infection is completely removed.
There are several well-established Antivirus programs to choose from. Antivirus software is simple to install. After you select an antivirus program, just download the program or insert the installation disk. Once you double-click on the install or setup file, follow the on screen directions.
Make sure to keep your antivirus software up-to-date. The nature of threats on the internet is constantly evolving. When hackers create a new virus, antivirus software companies analyze the virus code and provide updates for your antivirus software. The updates are called virus definitions. If your computer encounters a new virus and has outdated virus definitions, your computer could become infected even though you have an antivirus installed.
Consider these 10 important features of antivirus software before you decide which you should choose:
Important Antivirus Features
This component of antivirus software protects your computer from infection by malicious software, also known as malware. Malicious software includes trojans, viruses, spyware and other software designed to cause your computer to malfunction or destroy your data.
2. Protection Against Browser Exploits
Browser exploits usually involve website code that is written to take advantage of a vulnerability in a web browser. For example, hackers using a technique called ‘click jacking’ may embed code on a web page that virtually ‘steals’ your click and applies it toward an action you never intended. Like taking your ‘Cancel’ click and making it a ‘Confirm … Yes’ I’d like to transfer all my money to a Nigerian Prince’ click.
An antivirus guards your computer against infection by checking activity on your computer against a database of ‘known suspicious activity’. For example, if your computer is attempting to modify critical files, the antivirus may recognize that as a malicious activity and block it. Antivirus software will also attempts to locate and eliminate the source of the malicious activity.
Anti-Trojan software performs an integrity check on programs you install on your computer. It identifies and isolates software that may be performing a clandestine activity. For example, a handy text editor, that also sends snapshots of you from your webcam to some undisclosed location.
Spyware is a type of malware that can secretly steal files and record the activity of an infected computer. Spyware can be used to gather information used to access password protected accounts or view a listing of visited websites. The operative word here is ‘SPY’.
A worms is a type of malware infection that spreads by duplicating itself across networks and onto infected hard drives. Worm activity can cause a computer to run more slowly and eventually crash by filling all available hard disk space.
A rootkit is a type of software infection that can integrate into an operating system and replace critical files, with corrupt and malicious versions. Anti-rootkit functionality can help to detect, prevent the installation of, and remove certain rootkit infections. Unfortunately, the most reliable way to remove a root kit is to reformat the infected hard drive and reinstall the operating system.
Anti-Phishing software typically integrates with web browser and email client software. It then attempts to identify and notify the user of any phishing content encountered on the web or by email.
9. Secure Network
There are automated programs running on computers around the world whose purpose is to find any vulnerable computer connected to Internet. The network can be a potential vulnerability for any device that uses one to connect to the Internet. Software with features designed to secure your network will typically close unnecessarily open ports to your computer and monitor activity between the programs on your computer and the Internet.
10. Email Protection
Email Protection features of antivirus software include the ability to scan inbound and outbound email for infected attachments and URLs to malicious websites. Some antivirus software include quarantine and blocking features.
11. Automatic Virus Updates
One of the biggest problems users have with antivirus software is simply keeping it up to date. Most antivirus software can be configured to automatically connect with the vendor site and download new updates on a regular basis.
12. Automatic Program Updates
The scan engine(s) and program itself may periodically be updated to add functionality to detect newer threats. Many antivirus software programs can be configured to automatically check for new updates and download and install them if they are available.
13. Heuristic Scanner
Antivirus software typically has a heuristic scanner as well. Heuristic scanning uses what is known about existing malware and what it has learned from past experience to identify new threats even before the antivirus vendor creates an update to detect it.
There are many other security features available in antivirus software. However, a robust antivirus solution should at a minimum include the ten features listed above.
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Adapted from Security Cheat Sheet