Installing anti-virus software is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your computer, but you need to make sure you keep the malware definitions up-to-date.
Anti-virus software are computer programs that attempt to identify, neutralize or eliminate malicious software such as; viruses, worms, phishing attacks, and trojan horses. Anti-virus software typically uses two different techniques to accomplish this:
- During a scheduled (or on-demand scan) it will examine files on your computer to look for known viruses, it will also scan files as you access them.
- It will attempt to identify suspicious behaviour from any computer program which might indicate infection.
Why do you have to update anti-virus software?
Anti-virus software depends on virus (or malware) definitions. These definitions are essentially a database of malware signature files (the unique information associated with each malware) which are used to identify malicious software.
Cyber-criminals are always looking for new ways to get your information and money so malicious software is constantly being written and circulated online. To ensure your computer is protected from the latest threat it is essential that your anti-virus software provider updates their database of definitions as each new malware is discovered. Consequently, your anti-virus software should be set to check for updates at least once a day - although this is usually the default for most software, it’s worth double-checking to make sure.
Remember to update it's virus definitions your anti-virus software needs an internet connection - if you don’t connect to the internet regularly you are leaving yourself open to all the threats that have evolved since your last update.
It’s also important to make sure your antivirus subscription (whether it’s paid or free) doesn’t lapse, as lapsed software will not protect you against Internet and email threats.
Here are a few of the Virus Protectors that offer free services:
- Avira - the free version includes an option for protecting your smartphone too.
- Panda Cloud
- Windows Defender (built-in to Windows)
Good compliment to antivirus is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free – for cleaning out malware that’s already on your system.
You may also like to check out Consumer Affairs' site which has a great guide on selecting antivirus software.