What Is Antivirus Software?

 Wednesday 29 June, 2022
What Is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software refers to any program that's specially designed to detect and remove malicious software (malware). After installation, antivirus software usually works continuously in the background to offer real-time protection against viruses and malware. A comprehensive AV solution can help you protect your device or network from various cyberthreats like malware, spyware and phishing. It does this by keeping an eye on the files and applications in your device and by monitoring the webpages you visit for any incoming threats.

How does an antivirus software program work?

An antivirus software program chiefly looks for two kinds of threats on any device or network: known and unknown viruses or malware. To identify known threats, an antivirus solution usually runs a specific detection program. First, it looks for viruses and malware that are on its database. Then, the antivirus program may run either a generic detection program that looks for known virus and malware behavioral patterns or it may run a heuristic detection program that discovers and learns about new threats by spotting irregular activity or suspicious file structures.

Why do you need antivirus software?

Cyberattacks are becoming extremely common. A study estimates that they occur once every 39 seconds online. Approximately 300,000 new malware programs are created each day. 64% of companies across the globe have reported a cyberattack and 94% of malware comes from email. Since 2020, cyber threats have grown by around 50% each year. These stats show that no device, person, or organization is safe from the threats that malware and viruses pose. The threats posed by malware and viruses include:

  • Slowing down devices and networks
  • Deleting or damaging files
  • Reformatting hard disks
  • Causing crashes
  • Stealing data or deleting it
  • Encrypting data and locking devices

An antivirus solution acts like the lock on your door. It prevents unwanted malware and viruses from entering your device or network just as the lock on your door prevents intruders from entering your house. With hackers coming up with new malware and viruses daily, it's important that you take some measure to protect your devices and network. Installing antivirus software is a good and solid first step in the right direction.

Protection against ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malware that either threatens to disclose important data or files or block access to it until a ransom is paid. Governments across the globe saw an increase in ransomware attacks by 1,885%. Many of these attacks were on healthcare and other organizations because their data is precious and so hackers can derive more financial gains from these attacks. If by encrypting the personal data and files of an individual, hackers could extort a few hundred dollars, with attacks on businesses and organizations, they can potentially extort hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you add the cost of downtime, reputational damage and loss in productivity to the actual payout, company losses could potentially exceed a million dollars in recovery and remediation because of a single ransomware attack. That's an expensive price to pay for not using good antivirus software, which can protect you and your network from ransomware by blocking phishing sites and malicious applications.

Benefits of having antivirus software

There are many benefits of installing an antivirus software. These include:

  • Virus and malware (like ransomware) protection
  • Blocking spam and adware
  • Keeping hackers and data thieves at bay
  • Scanning removable devices
  • Data protection
  • Firewall against spyware and phishing
  • Enhanced web protection on browser
  • Offering parental control
  • Password protection
  • Virtual private network (VPN) protection

What to look for in antivirus software?

When evaluating an antivirus solution, don't evaluate it purely based on its ability to ward off viruses. An antivirus solution must be much more than that. Here are some things you should look for in your antivirus software:

  • Comprehensive protection: An antivirus solution must protect you from viruses surely. But it must also protect you from different kinds of malware like spyware, adware and ransomware. It must protect you from scams like spam, phishing and pharming.
  • Real-time protection and quick threat removal: Does the antivirus software take preventive measures or is it only reactive? A good antivirus software will constantly vet all new files and any webpages that you visit for possible dangers so that it’s always ahead of the curve. It’ll also be quick to quarantine any potential threats to ensure you’re always protected.
  • Accuracy in threat detection: Organizations like NSS Labs, AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives release periodic reports on the effectiveness of different antivirus software. It’s good to keep an eye out for these reports as they offer insights into how accurately an antivirus solution classifies both harmful and harmless files and applications.
  • Remote monitoring and management (RMM): An RMM software like Pulseway offers greater flexibility and convenience, especially if you’re managing a network of endpoints. It saves you tons of time and increases your efficiency by automating tasks for endpoints with diverse requirements. Check how easily your antivirus software integrates with the RMM solution you use. Antivirus software programs like Bitdefender and Webroot integrate well with Pulseway while offering comprehensive protection for your home device or enterprise network.
  • Effect on device and ease of use: Some antivirus software programs are notorious for slowing down devices. Others may be incompatible with the configuration of some or many of your devices. Some antivirus programs simply have a bad user interface, which makes it difficult to manage them. When choosing antivirus software, check these factors to make sure that they don’t hamper the performance of your device or IT environment.

If you manage more than one device, there simply isn't anything as easy and efficient as a remote monitoring and management solution that integrates well with your antivirus software. Pulseway's RMM software not only integrates well with antivirus software programs like Bitdefender and Webroot, but it also allows you to monitor the health of your IT environment from anywhere, anytime using your mobile phone.

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