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What is an Antivirus? Definition

What is an antivirus?

It seems pretty simple and easy to tell what  an antivirus is . Who has not yet heard of this type of software, its importance, and why it must always be updated, etc, etc? Here you will find a lot of information related to antivirus, to help you better understand this type of software and how they work. 

Definition of antivirus: It is a program that helps protect your computer against most viruses, worms, Trojans and other unwanted invaders that can infect your computer.

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Among the main damages that these programs can cause are: the loss of microprocessor performance, deletion of files, data alteration, confidential information exposed to unauthorized persons and the uninstallation of the operating system.

Over the years,  viruses, malware and other threats that threaten us every time we access the Internet or connect an unknown pendrive to our computer,  have progressed to a level where they are practically undetectable. Also the ways in which they are introduced into our computers is increasingly sophisticated and treacherous.

Hardly a user who uses the Windows operating system, any of its versions, has not used some security software on his computer, at least once in his life. We don’t mean to say that only Windows is conducive to malware, but as the world’s most widely used operating system, it is the target of choice for creators of digital pests . This is because  crackers  always try to reach as many users as possible.

Normally, antiviruses monitor virus activities in real time  and make periodic checks, or according to the user’s request, seeking to detect and then  delete or remove viruses from the computer .

Today’s antiviruses have  specific vaccines for tens of thousands of known virtual pests , and thanks to the way they monitor the system, they can detect and eliminate viruses, worms and Trojans before they infect the system.

These programs  identify viruses based on “signatures” , identifiable patterns in files and by detecting computer behavior or unauthorized alterations in certain files and areas of the system or hard disk .

Antivirus must be updated frequently,  as with so many malicious code being discovered every day,  products can quickly become obsolete . Some antivirus can be configured to update automatically. In this case, it is recommended that this option is enabled.

Types of antivirus

Antivirus is one of the basic support points of a personal security system , next to firewalls and spyware detectors. As in the other categories of software, it  is also possible to find good free and commercial antivirus . Typically, the products monitor virus activity in real time and do periodic checks, or according to user request.

In addition to having one of those programs, you may want to use an online antivirus , which does not need to be installed on the computer. It is useful in the case of having already suffered an infection,  because some viruses and malicious programs prevent the correct functioning of the antivirus , and continue to act after a complete verification of the system.

Online antivirus can also be useful when you need to use unknown or suspicious systems, such  as communal computers in Internet cafes . Another advantage of online verifiers is that they are always updated, as they are hosted on the servers of the companies that maintain them.

In the following link you will find a specific report on: Types of Antivirus

Virus detection techniques

The main objective of the antivirus is to detect and remove malware programs from your computer. To understand how an antivirus works, it is necessary to know the virus detection techniques that exist.

Detection techniques include:

– Signature
Verification
– Heuristic Verification – Behavior Blocking

Signature verification technique

Signature Verification determines the characteristics that a file leads to being considered malware or not. It is  verify characteristics such as: file size, sequence of binary instructions, among others.  When a file is recognized as  malware , it receives its own identity, with its respective signature. These signatures are the ones that determine each malware that is part of the antivirus definition list.

This type of detection may not be very efficient, as it does not allow new types of malware, which were not yet included in the antivirus database, to be detected. In other words, new types of malware will not be detected before the antivirus software has its definition list updated.

Heuristic detection technique

Heuristic Verification is the ability that an antivirus has to detect malware, without having a specific vaccine for it,  that is, the idea of ​​heuristics is to anticipate the discovery of malware. There are anti-spam software that works with the same philosophy. The big problem with this type of detection method is the possibility of generating a very high number of false positives. False positives are files that have some characteristics that can make it look like malware, although in reality they are not.

In addition to this, this technique  performs the verification more slowly , since the process of looking for files that have certain characteristics is different from looking for already recognized malware.

This technique will not identify new malware that have characteristics different from those of already known malware , as the heuristics are prepared to detect characteristics common to other malware.

Behavior Blocking Technique

Behavior Blocking is the technique that analyzes the actions carried out by programs (suspicious actions), in order to identify possible attempts at invasions or infections.  According to the actions carried out by some software, it may be considered malware and not allowed to execute. 

Most  antivirus software uses  a combination of these techniques to detect and remove malware.

Differences between the best and worst antivirus

– Malware detection time and vaccine distribution;

It is important that the  antivirus provider  be fast in detecting new malware and especially in the distribution of vaccines.

– Frequency of updating the definition list;

The definition list should be updated often.  Every day many malware appear on the net. If the definition list is not updated often, there is a great possibility that we will end up infected.

– Scan time;

Scan time is another important factor.  Reading the files should be fast . A slow scan is always problematic, as the machine finds itself with a process running and absorbing a large part of its resources.

– Perception of the scan (memory used, use of the equipment and blocking of its applications);

The best scan is the one that is not noticed.  The antivirus performs the reading of the hard disk of the PC  and you do not even know what it is doing.

– Amount of malware identified;

The best antivirus are those that manage to detect as many malware as possible. Usually in antivirus tests, this number is the big differential.

– Number of false positives identified;

Here, the less the better.  An antivirus that detects files without viruses and considers them malware is a big headache. Mainly if you are going to remove a healthy file and make an application or even the operating system stop working.

– Price.

The item price must be considered. We have nothing against free antivirus, but if there is a paid version, we agree that this version will be more efficient than the free one. The prices of the antivirus are so cheap, that it is worth the investment.

Antivirus FAQs

What was the first antivirus?

In 1987, Bernd Robert Fix (a German computer security expert) devised a program to remove Vienna, a virus that infected .com files on DOS-based systems.

The name of this first antivirus program is unclear, but this was the first documented removal of a computer virus by an antivirus program.

Around the same time, G Data Software AG released its first antivirus program designed for Atari ST computers. The company then released the Ultimate Virus Killer (UVK) 2000.}

In 1987, the cybersecurity company McAfee was founded and the first version of VirusScan was released .

In that same year, Peter Paško, Miroslav Trnka and Rudolf Hrubý also created the first NOD32 antivirus

At the end of the same year 1987, two more antivirus tools would be released: Ross Greenberg’s FlushShot Plus and Erwin Lanting’s Anti4us. These are considered the first heuristic antivirus.

Why is it called antivirus?

It is not a very complicated question, since the word says it: “Anti”, it is a Greek prefix that means “against”. “Virus” is from Latin that refers to some harmful substance or poison or an organism that reproduces in living cells using its metabolism. 

Transpolating this to computing, the antivirus is a computer program that searches for and prevents malicious software that wants to enter the system.

What are the antivirus?

There is no doubt that an antivirus is one that offers tools to ensure that our computer is always safe and virus-free. The problem is that all antivirus promise this, but very few actually deliver. At this point,  personal experience with this or that antivirus is vital to know which is the best antivirus for us.

However,  not all users have enough experience with antivirus and virus programs to be able to determine which is the best antivirus, that is, the one that fulfills the mission of perfectly protecting us from incoming threats from the Internet and that also with the As time goes by, it does not take more importance than the operating system,  as it happens with most antivirus on the market,  to which we will end up paying more attention than to our work, because of how incredibly intrusive they are.

So,  basically, an antivirus must comply with two premises, be effective and also not be intrusive.  Although it seems difficult to obtain an antivirus with these characteristics, Windows users have it right on our computer for some time.

Windows Defender

For us it is the best antivirus and antispyware (spyware) for home that we can find today,  which has been a bit hidden among the Windows options for some time, but inexplicably users have not finished adopting, perhaps because they are convinced that  an antivirus must be cumbersome, intrusive and alarming at all times, even if it is uselessly.

Windows Defender has everything that other antivirus on the market have, that is,  all the tools to combat viruses and threats, in real time and with one of the best virus definition databases,  which are periodically updated to ensure that we always have the best possible security.

In addition, it is really an antivirus that does not bother the user at all,  that is, it lets him concentrate on his tasks without interrupting him with messages or pop-up windows,  without this meaning that it does not fulfill its function with total efficiency.

Another point to consider  is the issue of the use of resources such as RAM and CPU,  which  in the case of Windows Defender are at levels in which they do not interfere at all with the other activities we do with the computer , contrary to the remaining antivirus on the market.

What is the best antivirus

For all the aforementioned,  our answer to which is the best antivirus program is without a doubt, Windows Defender, which in addition to being super simple to use and silent, is completely free.

If you have Windows from versions Vista or 7,  Windows Defender antivirus is activated and ready to use,  without having to download anything.

Other antivirus

There are dozens of antivirus programs on the market , both free and paid, ready to download and install on our computers to protect us from all threats.

Despite this impressive antivirus offering,  users who are not very experienced in the field of viruses,  and need to feel protected in the traditional way, perhaps with an “everything is fine” alarm  and pop-ups every 10 minutes.

We must always  choose between recognized antivirus and with a verifiable track record, which are also effective, such as:

  • Avira
  • Panda
  • AVG
  • Norton
  • Trend
  • Kaspersky
  • Avast
  • NOD32

Avast: the second best antivirus

The antivirus that meets the best conditions to be the best second antivirus,  at least for this list, is Avast,  an antivirus that in addition to having a series of tools for the detection and elimination of computer viruses, malware, spyware and other types From threats  such as malicious URL blocking,  Phishing (identity theft) protection,  behavior-based detection and many other options, it also offers a slightly less comprehensive but equally effective free version.

However,  despite the impressive options Avast offers for virus detection and removal, it  has the same problem as the others: systematic intrusion through pop-ups and reminders every so often, which saps our patience and  depletes our resources. computer,  which we could use for other tasks.

This  does not mean that Avast or the other antivirus that do the same are bad,  nor that they cannot protect us, on the contrary, since there is a lot of monetary investment in them, which guarantees a good operation.

The fundamental problem is that they must show the user that they are protecting us at all times, so that they feel confident, and that of course they  do not think that they have paid a fortune for software that apparently does nothing, the fundamental reason for so many windows and pop-up reminders.

What was the first virus?

The first virus was called Creeper , making mention of a character from the cartoon show “Scooby Doo”. It was developed by Bob Thomas in 1971, when he was working at BBN Technologies.

It spread through the ARPAnet network, displaying the message: “I am the creeper, catch me if you can!” (in English: “I’m a Creeper catch me if you can!”)

When to update the antivirus?

As we have seen so far, the best way for users to keep our computers protected from possible cyber attacks , and above all to be able to keep all the information we store on the PC, smartphone or tablet safe is through the use of antivirus software .

In this way we can ensure that different malicious software that, due to any type of error, is installed on our computer, is immediately detected by the antivirus and thus avoid the damage that it could cause . However, it is always important not only to choose the antivirus that we believe is effective to carry out this task, but also to make sure that it is always up to date.

However, a concern that most users have is to know how often it is necessary to update the antivirus . The truth is that the answer in principle will depend on the possible updates that the developers of the antivirus in question make available for download.

At the same time, we must also bear in mind that depending on how we use our computer, the frequency with which we must update the antivirus will also depend on it , although of course the ideal is to be aware of the new updates released by the manufacturers of this software.

Let us bear in mind that the antivirus update is as important as the installation of this software itself , since the truth is that just installing an antivirus program will not be enough protection, because new more powerful computer viruses are constantly emerging to which without the corresponding update the antivirus will not be prepared to face it.

The moment we install an antivirus on our computer, this software is ready to detect viruses and take the necessary measures. With the appearance of new viruses almost every day, antiviruses require add-ons that allow you to add tools against these new viruses .

In this way, when we keep the antivirus of our computer updated, it can detect and recognize new computer threats that until now were not included in its database , but which became so when we updated the antivirus program.

That is why what manufacturers and antivirus developers usually recommend is that we update the software, and that we also perform a periodic scan of our computer.

In general, those users who daily use the computer to connect to the Internet and make use of online tools are recommended to check every day or at least every other day if there is a new antivirus update .

In the case of those who use the computer less frequently and tend to connect sporadically to the Internet, or tend to surf only always in a set of common sites, the ideal is to verify that there is a new update of the antivirus software once a week .

On the other hand, we must bear in mind that a large proportion of antivirus products currently in use have the functionality of allowing the user to configure periodic updates automatically.

With this methodology, the antivirus program will update automatically every day or when the computer is connected to the Internet , which allows us to worry less and not have to be aware of checking software updates, so the best option, and The most recommended is to use an antivirus that offers the possibility of carrying out automatic updates every time a new program update is launched.

How to detect if an antivirus is fake?

Just as we need the installation of an antivirus program to be able to protect our computer, tablet or smartphone from possible attacks, it is also important to bear in mind that we cannot install any software that appears as an antivirus , since in many cases there are malicious programs that pretend to be antivirus to infect our computer.

For this reason, it is always good to take into account some guidelines that allow us to determine if an antivirus software is really what it claims to be, or if it is a malicious program that will install a virus on our computer and cause damage that can even come to represent the loss of information stored on the PC.

In this sense, we must consider some issues that can generate suspicions that we find ourselves facing a virus that pretends to be an antivirus. One of the main things to keep in mind is to avoid downloading antivirus software from unofficial sites.

Today there are hundreds and hundreds of program download sites that offer us access to quality software completely free of charge, and in many cases when we believe that we are downloading and installing an antivirus, it is possible that it is actually malicious software .

Therefore, what is always recommended is to download the antivirus software from the official website of the program’s manufacturer , and of course that this software is widely known and prestigious among users around the world.

This is undoubtedly one of the aspects that we must always take into account when choosing the antivirus that we are going to install on our computer, but there are also a series of guidelines that can tell us when an antivirus is false. Here are some of the most frequent tracks:

  • Rogue antivirus software usually does not offer a trial period.
  • Rogue antivirus software may install itself, automatically through our approval.
  • Fake antivirus software can pretend to be our computer’s operating system through pop-up windows.
  • Rogue antivirus software usually doesn’t include an easy way for us to uninstall it. It may not directly include this option.
  • The fake antivirus software will usually ask us for immediate payment in order to use it.
  • Fake antivirus software usually finds hundreds of viruses on our computer, and immediately shows us urgent messages so that we pay what it asks us to do so we can start cleaning.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that there is a type of fake antivirus known by the name of scareware , which broadly consists of software that will show us pop-up windows informing us that our computer is being infected and attacked by a virus .

Therefore, the message will inform us that to eliminate the supposed virus we must pay the corresponding money that the tool costs that will allow us to eliminate the virus that attacks us.

Fortunately, scareware can be easily identified by even the most novice users, since this type of malicious software still continues to use pop-up windows that have an old visual appearance , such as those that operating systems showed many years ago, and this allows users not to fall for the trap .

The best online antivirus

For all those users concerned about the integrity and security of the data stored on their computer,  having a good antivirus installed and updated is the first rule that must be taken into account to be able to work safely,  safe from any attack or software malicious software that can sneak onto your devices.

As we know,  there are countless free antivirus systems,  and most of them offer a good degree of protection, which we can install on our computer without having to pay a penny, except of course, our privacy. However, we also have another option available,  that of resorting to a free online antivirus, which can be useful in countless implementations, including when we suspect that our main antivirus is not working properly.

Now, the most important question that the user asks at this point is:  what is the best free antivirus online that we can use? On the Internet there are many answers to this question, and here we will try to reduce them to a few,  with the aim of leaving only those that in our opinion are the ones that offer the best characteristics.

At this point, it is necessary to emphasize that  this type of antivirus can never replace an antivirus installed on our computer, for many reasons, among which the following stand out: performance and the need to have an internet connection to access the website. .  But they can be used in many scenarios where it is necessary to have a higher degree of security.

ESET Online Scanner

ESET Online Scanner  is undoubtedly one of the best free online antivirus alternatives available on the market. Very quickly  , it offers us the possibility of eliminating viruses and malware in very few steps,  and the best of all is that to use  it we only have to enter an email address and be system administrators,  that is, have sufficient permissions to start the analysis .

F-Secure Online Scanner

F-Secure Online Scanner is one of the fastest and safest antivirus online,  and also comes from one of the most respected antivirus software development companies in the world. Easy to use, it offers very accurate results.  This is mainly due to the fact that the platform is always up to date.

However, it has a drawback, the impossibility of customizing what the system is going to analyze,  undoubtedly a worrying point if we have sensitive documents stored.

Trend Micro HouseCall

Another excellent online antivirus, developed in this case by  Trend Micro, a heavyweight in security for many years. Although the speed with which the analysis is carried out leaves much to be desired,  the truth is that it is one of the online antivirus that offers the best results,  both in detection and elimination.

Without a doubt, an excellent alternative. If you wish, you can try Trend Micro HouseCall for free by clicking on this link.

Panda Cloud Cleaner

Panda Cloud Cleaner is perhaps the most interesting and useful option of all those mentioned in this article.  This is due to its impressive detection rates, indeed, Panda finds threats where all other antivirus failed.

This is what the so-called  “Collective Intelligence” has to do with  an analysis model that is based on the results obtained and stored from the virus analysis of the millions of computers that use the software. This guarantees that the level of security that is achieved is extremely high,  and also that it is updated almost instantly.

It should be noted that  Panda Cloud Cleaner can be used as the system’s default antivirus,  provided of course we have access to the Internet.

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