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What is anti-virus software?

How does anti-virus software work?

Why do I need anti-virus software?

What should I look for in anti-virus software?

Anti-virus software recommendations

Computer viruses plague our digital existence much like the flu or the common cold does our physical existence.  There are "medicines" such as anti-virus software, and ways of washing our hands such as not downloading unknown attachments, but the risk of infection is always there, no matter the precautions taken.

Every year millions of people get the flu, even though there is a flu vaccine available.  The same occurs in the digital world.  Many users are unaware of how to avoid getting computer viruses.  The truth is you CAN protect your computer from infection.  Simply relying on anti-virus software will only allow you to remove a virus once it has infected your computer.  I suggest you take things a step further and ensure your computer stays infection-free by implementing some straightforward techniques explained on this site.

Computer Virus Information for the Internet public is provided in this section. You can also download free virus protection.
I will address issues regarding pc virus protection, including how to identify a hoax computer virus, how to fix a computer 
virus, removing computer virus, and being aware of a computer virus warning. There's also free norton anti virus protection
via trial-ware.

This is dedicated to our viral friends and will hopefully be the beginning of the end for them as we educate ourselves on prevention and learn simple proactive measures we can incorporate into our computer-using habits.



What is anti-virus software?

Anti-virus software is the countermeasure program used to "inoculate" computer viruses. Computer viruses are programs that mimic the attributes of their real-world counterparts. Computer viruses replicate, cause damage to an otherwise healthy system, and can spread from host to host. Like real-world viruses, a computer virus needs a host, a means of transportation. In the digital world this can be in e-mail, other programs, or media (cd/floppy/tape). There is one caveat however - computer viruses need to be activated. Much the same way that carcinogens in our bodies won’t give us cancer unless they are activated, computer viruses need to be activated as well, usually via a click or open command.

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How does anti-virus software work?

Anti-virus software works in two ways. The first and the staple of the industry is based on signature files. When a computer virus is reported, the virus is examined and a signature file is created for inoculating the virus. This inoculation is added to the anti-virus software database (.dat file) and is used when scanning computers to identify and destroy viruses. Unfortunately this is a reactive process so someone has to be the guinea pig and get infected. The other more progressive way of identifying viruses is called heuristics. This method will be the future of the industry and is basically the only hope we have in eliminating computer viruses. Heuristics monitor all activity on your computer and if a program is "acting" like a virus, then a red flag is raised and it is destroyed or contained and reported. The biggest hurdle for advancement in this area is the difficulty of determining what constitutes virus-like activity. For instance, replication is a common attribute of virus activity, but there can also be valid replication, like in program association. During program association, programs check to see whether or not they are the default. If they are not and you want them to be, then the program will change all of the files, which is akin to replication.

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Why do I need anti-virus software?

Computer viruses are the most common threat in the digital world right now. If you don't have anti-virus software, you will eventually get a virus and probably lose data that you have had on your computer for years. If you have anti-virus software, not only can you save your data, but you’ll save yourself the migraine you'll get when you discover the havoc wreaked upon your computer by a virus, which could be as bad as an infection in your boot record or BIOS, rendering your computer completely useless. Anti-virus software is worth every penny, giving you peace of mind and insurance against certain trouble.

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What should I look for when purchasing anti-virus software?

There are many different vendors of Anti-Virus software, and you are probably wondering which one is the best. There is unfortunately no simple answer to that question. Whatever solution you choose for your computer, make sure of the following specifications:

  • The software can automatically update itself
  • The vendor provides updated virus definitions regularly 
  • The software can integrate into your email program
  • Virus scans can be scheduled to run automatically
  • The software has a proven track record
  • The vendor releases timely and accurate information about new viruses

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Anti-virus software recommendations

If you are unsure as to which product to purchase you can look at the reviews section or I personally prefer the Norton products. 

Norton Antivirus 2003 Professional Download - Only $9.95

Anti-Virus Protection for PCs

Anti-Virus Protection for Macs

Downloadable Anti-Virus Protection

Multi-User Anti-Virus Protection

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