As long as computers have been and will be in existence, whether connected to the Internet or not, there will always be a need for antivirus software. There will never be a time when people, whether mischievous youths seeking a thrill or a hardened cybercriminals looking to exploit billion-dollar companies, will stop looking to find ways to commit fraud, cause widespread damage, or just experience the rush of breaking into a computer.< Antivirus software is an important tool to help prevent such attacks. Not every type of cyberattack can be prevented with antivirus software, but it can be a great asset when trying to prevent intrusion into a computer. Although not every intrusion into a computer is meant to cause damage or steal valuable information, that doesn’t mean that the attack isn’t dangerous. All intrusions into a computer exploit what is known as a vulnerability, or a weakness in the computer’s operating system or other software that can act as an access point to an attack. Once even the most innocuous of an intrusion exploits a vulnerability, it basically sends a signal to others that this computer has been infiltrated. This opens the door wide open to much worse attacks.
When looking to purchase antivirus software, make sure to purchase a trusted and well known, subscription-based program. This is important, as the makers of this type of software will be able to keep their subscribers’ computers protected with real-time updates that scout out the latest threats.
What antivirus software can protect against?
Antivirus protection isn’t just a way to block computer viruses, as the name may apply. (Some people think that all intrusions into a computer are called viruses, but that is a misnomer.) For example, here is a list of the ways a good antivirus program can assist in protecting a computer with data on it:
- Antivirus – Starting with the obvious, an antivirus program will protect against computer viruses, or attacks that mean to damage a computer.
- Rootkit protection – This prevents rootkits, which are imbedded deep inside a computer in order to mask other malware, from establishing in a computer.
- Bot protection – This alerts a subscriber when a cybercriminal is attempting to remotely take over a computer to use as a source for automatic spamming and other crimes. Bots are what botnets are based on (groups of ordinary people’s computers that have been infected in order to carry out attacks on other entities).
- Worm protection – By definition, worms attack networks rather than computers themselves. However, worms can carry payloads of malware that can be deposited onto computers, which will then do damage. Antivirus software can prevent this sort of attack – stop computer worms.
- Trojan horses – Antivirus software can’t stop a person from being duped into thinking that a desired downloaded program or file is legitimate. However, antivirus software can warn them when malware is detected within a Trojan horse file.
- Spyware – Antivirus software can detect when a computer has been infected with spyware, or software that’s meant to either collect data of usage or steal information, even when the source came from a reputable, legitimate source.
- Messaging protection – Whether it’s instant messages or e-mails, antivirus software can warn users when these messages contain dangerous attachments or fraudulent links. Instant messaging security is important today.
Reputable antivirus software programs should also come with some sort of recovery tool. No antivirus program is infallible (and if one claims to be, they’re lying). A recovery system will help rid a computer of any malware that passed through its defenses.
Also, antivirus software isn’t just for computer that are attacked from the Internet. Viruses can be spread via portable storage drives. Conceivably, a person can plug one of these devices into a computer in a library, then bring it home to a computer with no online capabilities, and spread some kind of malware in this manner.
Other prevention techniques
While having antivirus software protection is an important step in keeping a computer free of malware, there are still some other things a person can do to keep their computer as clean as possible.
- Keep computer software updated – Operating system software is one of the key points in which cybercriminals attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in remote computers. However, to keep up with known attacks, operating system producers constantly update their software for free in order to help protect their patrons. These updates are free, and can be set up to happen automatically.
- Practice safe Internet habits – There are many ways that cybercriminals can insert malware onto computers, and some of these methods involve fooling ignorant users into accepting the offending software freely. Never open attachments or follow links from unknown sources. Never give out confidential information, such as passwords, even if it appears to come from an administrator. Use strong passwords on a regular base.
These methods, combined with having antivirus software, give a computer user a much better chance of staying protected against cybercriminals.