Internet security software – often called ‘anti-virus’ (AV) – are computer programs that attempt to identify, neutralize or eliminate malicious software.
Anti-virus software is designed to combat computer viruses and a wide range of other threats including worms, spyware, phishing attacks, rootkits, trojan horses and other malware.
AV software typically uses two different techniques to accomplish this:
- During a routine (timed) or on-demand scan it will examine files on your computer to look for known viruses matching definitions in a virus dictionary (or definitions)
- It will attempt to identify suspicious behavior from any computer program which might indicate infection. This technique is called heuristic analysis.
Most modern security products also attempt to remove or block spyware – malicious programs that try and collect small pieces of information without the computer owner’s knowledge and may change settings, make your computer run slowly or affect other programs installed.
They can combat spyware in two ways:
- The software may attempt to provide real time protection against the installation of spyware software on your computer by scanning all incoming network data for known spyware software and blocking any threats it discovers.
- You can also use your security software to detect and remove spyware that has already been installed onto your computer.
- Read about choosing security software on the NetSafe website
- If your software is out of date you can also try using an online scanner to security check your computer
- Read Sophos’ advice on avoiding fake antivirus
- Read Google’s advice on avoiding malware or watch the video below: