Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What is Anti Virus Software?

Antivirus or anti-virus software is used to prevent, detect, and remove thread to a computer called malware, such as computer viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and adware.

Antivirus software uses several methods to discover and prevent these threats, which are all mostly self managed - which means there is little interaction between the user of the program and the program itself. Many companies creating antivirus programs are working to make their programs as user friendly as possible, with little interaction necessary.

There are a few problems with Antivirus software that do exist, and part of this blog will explore them.

Identification Methods

Signature based detection - This is the most common form of virus detection used by antivirus programs. Antivirus companies create "dictionaries" of viruses which keeps a record of the virus and its characteristics, and then update their "definitions" within the "dictionary" of viruses to discover them. The drawback to this detection method is that the virus must fit the definition exactly, so if it has mutated or changed since its inception, the antivirus tool will not detect it.

Heuristic detection - Heuristic detection attempts to circumvent the problem with signature based detection. Heuristic detection monitors mutations and changes within malware or any malicious file, and uses that as a patched temporary definition to remove the file.


As with any system, antivirus software is not perfect. Let's discuss some drawbacks:

False Positives: A false positive is when an antivirus software detects a safe file as spyware, malware, or a virus. Sometimes, these files are even important files to the operation of your computer. For example, according to, in April 2010 Norton Antivirus detected a false positive in svchost.exe (a file necessary to Windows operation), rendering any system running Windows XP unusable.

While this may put you off from antivirus programs, false positives creating such disabling issues is rare.

Rogue Security Applications: Some malware creators are using the success of antivirus programs as a platform to spread their malware, and steal their victims credit card information, and request payments from them for fake Antivirus software.

This type of software installs a fake antivirus program on your computer, that runs a fake scan which brings up several fake virus alerts. In order to remove these fake viruses, the program asks for your credit card information. If you suspect you have a rogue antivirus software, please do not enter your information! Call a virus removal expert such as Focus Computer Repair, who specializes in Denver Virus Removal, or anywhere in the Denver Metro area.

Cost: Antivirus software costs money. While some versions may be free - these usually lack major functions that paid software includes, which leaves your system at risk. This drawback will be explored in depth in a later blog.

If you're in the Denver area and you're looking for some advice on antivirus software, looking for someone to take a look at your computer if you suspect a virus, or want some recommendations on what direction to head in, try giving this Denver Computer Repair shop a call.

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