The Importance of Antivirus Software & How to Keep It Up to Date

Whether you’re new to technology or use a handful of devices on a daily basis, you may often wonder, “Why is cybersecurity important?” Every year, millions of pieces of malware threaten devices and networks all around the world. Users are often surprised by how much damage these attacks can cause. However, in many cases, such devastation is entirely preventable.

Antivirus software – if maintained properly – can provide powerful protection against a variety of threats. As such, it should form the basis of any modern security protocol.

How Does Antivirus Software Work?

Antivirus software is designed to scan files consistently to determine whether any new cybersecurity threats have emerged. These may be found within emails, downloads, and general web surfing. As soon as antivirus systems detect potential threats, they can either warn users, block problematic websites, or, in some cases, eliminate the problem altogether.

While many people think of antivirus as a single solution, it actually consists of a comprehensive suite of features designed to pinpoint and handle a wide array of threats. Top methods include:

  • Signature Analysis – One of the most important types of antivirus software protection, signature analysis is the backbone of many modern programs. Under this approach, vendors determine the traits associated with various viruses to streamline detection.
  • Heuristic Analysis – Today’s sophisticated hackers often disguise malicious codes in hopes of deceiving antivirus programs. Heuristic analysis considers this unfortunate reality while making it possible to stay one step ahead. Under this method, previously unknown viruses can be detected through scans that take suspicious properties into account.
  • Sandbox Detection – Sometimes referred to as sandbox evasion, this system involves an isolated environment in which running programs are separated in the interest of avoiding Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).
  • Behavior Monitoring – Under this approach, antivirus systems monitor all traffic that occurs between computers and devices, such as external hard drives or printers. This solution can often undo changes made by external devices.

How to Choose the Right Antivirus Solution

While any antivirus solution is better than none at all, the level of protection varies dramatically from one program to the next. This can make it difficult to choose a software, especially when budget comes into play.

The first consideration? Free versus paid antivirus. No-cost programs can be helpful in some circumstances but often lack the convenient features offered with paid systems. Many providers have both free and paid versions of the same program. Some users find it helpful, to begin with the free option and upgrade as needed.

Other factors worth considering when selecting an antivirus system include:

  • Compatibility with Your Current Devices – Most antivirus programs work with Apple and Microsoft, but Linux users sometimes struggle to find compatible offerings.
  • Threat Prevention Features – Some antivirus suites go beyond scanning to include techniques for proactively avoiding future attacks. For example, web browsing protection filters URLs to determine whether some might place users at an increased risk.
  • Device Speed – In some cases, antivirus programs are effective for detecting and mitigating threats – but at the steep cost of computer speed. Although eager to boost security, many users are not willing to compromise on how efficiently their devices run. Ideally, everyday tasks such as loading applications, downloading files, or streaming videos will not be impacted by antivirus solutions.
  • Detection Rates – Not all antivirus programs are equally effective at detecting threats. Some fail to spot or handle issues promptly, while others go overboard and alert users to ordinary traffic. Overly aggressive thresholds can quickly grow annoying. Frequent false positives could even result in the removal of important files.

The Importance of Updating Antivirus Programs

Unfortunately, antivirus protection is not a one-time prospect. New threats emerge every day. As such, even the best programs can quickly become outdated if not updated regularly. However, many people neglect to update antivirus software as often as necessary. This may explain why, despite 95 percent of people claiming to use antivirus programs, many continue to see their devices infected.

While antivirus solutions consistently scan for new infections, there are only so many types of viruses or malware they’re equipped to handle. Attackers are constantly developing new systems that can get around even the strongest security features. As such, it doesn’t take long for antivirus programs to fall behind.

Updates are also essential in that they provide patches for flaws. Hackers often take advantage of these vulnerabilities, so it’s imperative that they’re addressed as quickly as fixes become available. Thankfully, many antivirus solutions offer automatic updates that can be made on the spot without user interference. This is particularly important for those who tend to procrastinate even when regularly alerted to the need for security updates.

Level Up Your Antivirus Protection with NerdsToGo Charlotte

Have you fallen behind on installing or updating antivirus protection? If you’re not confident about handling it on your own, don’t worry. You can count on the team from NerdsToGo for help.

In addition to antivirus solutions, we offer a variety of other business services designed to keep both your business network and personal devices secure. Contact us today to learn more about our antivirus and other computer security offerings!