Antivirus Software is a data security utility which is installed in a computer system with a purpose of protection from viruses, spyware, malware, rootkits, Trojans, phishing attacks, spam attack, and other online cyber threats.
An antivirus software, as the name indicates, is a program that works against a virus. It detects or recognizes the virus, and then after detecting the presence of the virus, it works on removing it from the computer system. Antivirus software works as a prophylactic so that it not only eliminates a virus but also prevents any potential virus from infecting your computer in the future.
Why do you need antivirus software?
A system without an antivirus is just like a house with an open door. An open and unprotected door will attract all the intruders and burglars into your home. Similarly, an unprotected computer will end up inviting all the viruses to the system. An antivirus will act as a closed door with a security guard for your computer fending off all the malicious intruding viruses. So, will you leave your door open for intruders?
One of the most common reasons for failures or problems in computers is the lack of
antivirus software, or expired antivirus software. It is an issue which is often overlooked
and has dire consequences for the unfortunate computer owner.
What Is a Virus?
These days there are so many different types of viruses. So what is a virus? A virus is
usually hidden, and can do a number of things, as it relates to the health of the computer.
A few examples are provided below:
Make a computer run slowly
Prevent computers from booting up
Damage parts of the system or amend how the system operates without the
Be used to steal personal details
Move from machine to machine on a network
Attack other machines using machine as a host
Send out unauthorized messages
So, like a human virus a computer virus can be dangerous and possibly infectious to other
computers. They can be spread between computers, and can also be transported via email.
It is not limited to software however, as they can also be transported via USB drives and
other types of media.
Where Does a Computer Viruses’ Come From?
Computer viruses are usually malicious computer programs written in order to damage
other people’s machines or steal information or even cash. They are usually highly skilled
programmers who have decided to use their skills in a negative manner. Some viruses are
written as an “ego” boost. In other words, some programmers write these things just to
prove that they can hack into a major site or obtain private information. However, there
are also criminal programmers who have a much more devious intention.
What Types of Virus Are There?
Sometimes the definition of what constitutes a virus is not clearly defined. In general a
virus almost always damages files on a computer. Some other types of malicious software
such as spyware are used to steal information from the user but may not damage the
Types of viruses include:
Worms: These are programs which copy themselves to other computers on a
network. They tend to slow things down as they consume more and more
bandwidth or computer resources.
Trojans: Performs functions (sometimes malicious) on the computer without the
knowledge of the user (Think of the horse of Troy)
Malware: Technically, this is not classed as a virus. It is software used to spy on
computer user’s activities and collect personal information. More commonly
known as “spyware”.
So What Does Antivirus Software Do?
Antivirus software is the “policeman” at the gate of a computer system. It protects the
computer from incoming threats and seeks out, destroys and warns of possible threats to
the system. New viruses are coming out all the time. It is the job of the antivirus software
to keep up with the latest threats. This is achieved by daily updates of the antivirus
database definitions, which counteract the latest threats to provide constant protection.
Antivirus Software is Vital!
Not having anti virus on a computer is like inviting a criminal into the home or having an
uninvited guest! They then cause havoc or steal from the owner. Today’s internet has
provided many ways for virus attacks and there are thousands of threats. To be safe from
these it is vital to police the computer and have it protected at all times. The Importance
of Antivirus Software cannot be underestimated.
Common Types Of Computer Viruses
Cybercriminals are getting better and better at stealing our confidential data and viruses that are being created are evolving rapidly. There are millions of viruses around the world, but here are some common types you should be aware of:
1. File-infecting Virus
A virus that attached itself to an executable program. It is also called a parasitic virus which typically infects files with .exe or .com extensions. Some file infectors can overwrite host files and others can damage your hard drive’s formatting.
2. Macro Virus
This type of virus is commonly found in programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel. These viruses are usually stored as part of a document and can spread when the files are transmitted to other computers, often through email attachments.
3. Browser Hijacker
This virus targets and alters your browser setting. It is often called a browser redirect virus because it redirects your browser to other malicious websites that you don’t have any intention of visiting. This virus can pose other threats such as changing the default home page of your browser.
4. Web Scripting Virus
A very sneaky virus that targets popular websites. What this virus does is overwrite code on a website and insert links that can install malicious software on your device. Web scripting viruses can steal your cookies and use the information to post on your behalf on the infected website.
5. Boot Sector Virus
These viruses are once common back when computers are booted from floppy disks. Today, these viruses are found distributed in forms of physical media such as external hard drives or USB. If the computer is infected with a boot sector virus, it automatically loads into the memory enabling control of your computer.
6. Polymorphic Virus
This virus has the capability to evade anti-virus programs since it can change codes every time an infected file is performed.
7. Resident Virus
A resident virus stores itself on your computer’s memory which allows it to infect files on your computer. This virus can interfere with your operating system leading to file and program corruption.
8. Multipartite Virus
A type of virus that is very infectious and can easily spread on your computer system. It can infect multiple parts of a system including memory, files, and boot sector which makes it difficult to contain.
Protection Against These Types Computer Viruses
A virus left untreated can wreak havoc on your device but if detected early, and appropriate measures are done, then the recovery would be quick. Just like how we protect ourselves from catching a virus, here are a few notes to remember to help keep your devices safe.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links.
- Scan email attachments before opening it.
- Avoid clicking on pop-up advertisements and get a pop-up blocker for your web browser.
- When routed to another website, don’t do anything, and immediately leave the site.
- Install a reliable antivirus programme and always keep it up to date.
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