If you've ever used a computer or mobile device, you've probably heard the term "antivirus software" before. But what is it, and why is it so important?
Simply put, antivirus software is a program designed to detect and remove malicious software, better known as malware, from your computer or mobile device. This includes viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and more. It does this by scanning files and programs on your device and comparing them to known malware signatures.
But why is it so important to have antivirus protection on your computer or mobile device? The answer is simple: malware is everywhere, and it's constantly evolving. According to a study by AV-TEST, a leading independent antivirus testing institute, there were over 350,000 new malware samples discovered every day in 2020. That's a staggering number, and it's only expected to grow in the coming years.
Without antivirus protection, your computer or mobile device is at risk of being infected with malware. And the consequences of malware can be severe. Hackers can steal your personal information, including your passwords and credit card numbers, and use it for their own gain. They can also use your device to launch attacks on other computers or websites.
The History of Antivirus Software
The need for antivirus software arose in the early days of personal computing. The first computer virus, known as the "Elk Cloner," was created in 1981 by a high school student named Rich Skrenta. Over the next few years, a number of viruses were created, including the infamous "Michelangelo" virus that was set to trigger on March 6, 1992, the birthday of the famous artist.
In response to this growing threat, a number of small companies began to develop antivirus software. One of the first was McAfee Associates, founded in 1987 by John McAfee. McAfee's software, known as VirusScan, quickly became one of the most popular antivirus programs.
Today, there are dozens of antivirus companies, each offering their own unique features and capabilities. Some of the most popular antivirus programs include Norton, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender.
How Antivirus Software Works
So, how does antivirus software work? The process is actually quite simple. When you install antivirus software on your computer or mobile device, it begins by scanning your files and programs for any malware signatures that match those in its database.
If the antivirus program detects any suspicious files or programs, it will either quarantine them (meaning it will isolate them from the rest of your system) or delete them outright. Some antivirus programs also offer real-time protection, meaning they will monitor your system continuously and alert you if any suspicious activity is detected.
But while antivirus software is effective at detecting and removing known malware, it's not perfect. Malware is constantly evolving, and new viruses and other types of malware are being created all the time. In order to stay up to date, antivirus companies must continually update their databases with new malware signatures.
Choosing the Right Antivirus Software
With so many antivirus programs on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Some things to consider when making your decision include:
- Features: What features does the antivirus program offer? Does it include real-time protection, automatic updates, and other useful tools?
- Price: How much does the antivirus program cost? Is it a one-time fee, or do you need to pay a monthly or yearly subscription?
- User-friendliness: Is the antivirus program easy to use, or does it require a lot of technical knowledge?
- Customer support: Does the antivirus company offer good customer support in case you run into any issues?
- Reviews: What do other people have to say about the antivirus program? Are the reviews generally positive?
Some of the most popular antivirus programs include Norton Antivirus, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky. Each of these programs offers a range of useful features and has a strong reputation for protecting your computer or mobile device from malware.
In today's digital age, antivirus software is more important than ever. With the threat of malware constantly looming, having a strong antivirus program installed on your computer or mobile device is essential to staying safe online.
When choosing an antivirus program, be sure to consider factors like features, price, user-friendliness, customer support, and reviews. And remember to keep your antivirus program up to date so it stays effective against the latest threats. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your computer or mobile device is protected from malware.