To secure your computer and provide the necessary protection, antivirus software has been the go-to solution. Antivirus are capable of fighting against malicious software, phishing scams, ransomware and many more threats which are lurking in the cyberspace. As a definition 'an antivirus software is a software designed to block and remove potentially unwanted programs (like viruses, malware) from entering your devices'. Now now, before you rush into getting your ultimate protection, let’s see how an antivirus works and what you should look for before getting one.
A strong database of threats
Everyday a new threat emerges in cyberspace which means that antivirus software (AV) providers should be on top of it. All AV softwares comes with a huge database with known malware and potentially unwanted programs (PUP) which is used to compare when running a scan on your computer.
This database is constantly updated (usually daily) which keeps on adding newly found malware (or PUPs) to the database. This is why everyone is prompted to update all software and specially the antivirus because these updates come with safety patches which will solve a vulnerability in the software.
Usually antivirus software automatically updates their database daily. This diminishes the possibility of malicious infections and safeguards you from hackers. Also some antivirus programs use 'heuristic analysis' which looks for programs which act like a malware (even if it's not on their database) and neutralises it. This is why sometimes Google Chrome won't be allowed to start becuase its blocked my the antivirus.This phenomena is called as a "false positive" and is a criteria used to judge the quality of AV software.
Virus scanners running on an infinity loop
AV programs are always running in the background keeping an eye on the files and processes. It scans any new program before being opened and only grants access after it confirms as a non malware. There are also the full virus scans where the AV program goes under each and every rock of your device trying to find PUPs hiding and neutralize them.
Before picking an AV program you should check if the scanner is lightweight and won't affect the speed of your device and at the same time have a high rate of detection and block rate.
Removing the Malware
Removing malware and detecting malware are considered as two separate things. When it comes to detection of malicious applications, it's usually a function of the free version whereas removing those programs are done by the premium version. If you're using a free version, you will know that your PC is infected but won't be able to remove it on its own. Either you will have to pay for the complete package or download a specialized software to remove them.
Emptying your recycle bin won't remove your files
This might come as a shock to you but emptying the recycle bin will not remove the files completely. The files still can be retrieved if no other data was written over it. In this case, using a file shredder will completely wipe out the data from your device.
Test your AV software
Sometimes with the AV software, you will go through a couple of days or weeks without any threats or detections leading you to wonder if your virus guard actually works. Well test it out! Simply create a .txt file and add a standardized EICAR code to it. Once you add this your virus guard should trigger immediately which means it's doing its job properly. This is a method used by antivirus developers as means of testing the software (Now you're a developer too ;)).
Each antivirus softwares comes with different types of tools. Some come equipped with ransomware protection, firewall enhancers, DNS protection, Password Managers, Phishing protection and many more. You should check which features you will need and if the product is worth the money.
Now comes to the point of choosing your very own antivirus software. Our opinion is to make use of:
The biggest benefit of using the reviews from users is that you will get to know how the product performs in the real world. One of the ways is to check out some security forums where you can find good, honest, trustworthy reviews and comparisons of antivirus products.
Another good place to keep a lookout is from Quora which is a questions and answer site. There are some specific categories (computer security, antivirus software, internet security) where you can find the answer you're looking for.
Next gold mine of information will be Reddit. Ask from Reddit to compare the best antivirus program and you will have the most lively down-to-earth comparison you could have imagined.
opinions from users are good but it's always better to see how the real live testing works. Virus Bulletin is an important benchmark testing site which measures everything you can think of like install times, scan speeds, stability false positives, detection rate etc.
And with that…
We can say that choosing the right antivirus software is not that hard. All antivirus software usually have a month's trial period so that you can test it out yourself and clear your doubts before making a commitment. However it's a very bad idea to have two antivirus programs running together. They both might consider that each other is a virus or try to compete to eliminate PUPs resulting in slower performance.
A note to you is that, there's no software in the world which is 100% risk free, the best antivirus is you. Your judgement and general internet knowledge should always come first.
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