Antivirus software detects and responds to various types of malware (malicious software), including viruses, worms and other programs designed to damage or disrupt a computer.
- Malware (malicious software): This is a general term used to describe any program designed to cause harm. Some common types of malware include viruses, worms and trojans.
- Virus: A malicious program that attaches itself to and “infects” other software applications and files, disrupting computer operations. Viruses often carry a “payload,” which is an executable script designed to damage, delete or steal information from a computer. A virus is a self-replicating program, meaning it copies itself. Typically, a virus only infects a computer and begins replicating when the user executes the program or opens an infected file.
- Worm: A worm is similar to a virus but with an additional dangerous element. Like a virus, a worm can make copies of itself, but it does not require a person to send it along to other computers. A worm spreads rapidly across a network without having to attach itself to another program. Since worms are so quick and pervasive through a network, they quickly absorb resources and can bring not just one computer down, but thousands, potentially shutting down an entire network.
- Trojan: A malicious program disguised or hidden within another program that appears to be safe. When a trojan is executed, it allows attackers to gain unauthorized access to the computer in order to steal information and cause harm. Trojans commonly spread through email attachments and Internet downloads.
About Antivirus Software
Antivirus software typically works in two ways:
- Removes Known Malware: Antivirus software examines your computer looking for known viruses using a library of definitions and cures to remove threats. Antivirus software will automatically update its library to stay current as new threats and protections emerge.
- Prevents New Malware: Antivirus software looks for suspicious computer processing behavior to prevent threats that are either new variants of existing threats or brand new threats altogether. Antivirus software prevents suspicious code from executing and blocks access to infected files.
Where do I get Antivirus software protection?
Antivirus software can be purchased at any store that sells computer software or online at Antivirus software websites.
How long does Antivirus software last?
Most Antivirus vendors sell a perpetual license that requires annual renewal in order to continue receiving updates that protect against the latest threats. The annual renewal fee is often less than the initial purchase of the Antivirus software.
How do I update my Antivirus software?
Antivirus software automatically updates itself with the latest threat and cure definitions and often repairs damaged content automatically if it encounters malware.