The use of the Internet plays a role in almost all areas of life today – be it online shopping, banking or checking the weather forecast. If you use the Internet regularly, you should think about protection against unauthorized access to your computer, tablet or smartphone. An anti-virus program protects the PC or mobile devices from malware and third-party access. How do these programs work and what versions are there?
- Antivirus programs are used to protect against malicious software (malware) that is circulating on the Internet.
- Virus scanners are available from various providers as a free version or as a paid version.
- The different programs vary in terms of their functions and their operation.
What does an antivirus do?
An antivirus program (AV program for short according to abbreviationfinder) protects the user from harmful software that can get onto his PC or mobile device via the Internet. Programs of this type are also known as virus scanners or antivirus programs. The main task of antivirus programs is to identify malware as such in good time, to ward off it and to move malicious files into quarantine. In this way, an antivirus program prevents the malware from gaining access to the device in question.
- Computer viruses
- Computer worms
- Trojan horses ( Trojans)
- Backdoor programs
- Crypto miner
The different types of malware are constantly evolving, so you should keep your antivirus software up to date with updates. Because whoever relies permanently on the original version of the program will at some point no longer have adequate protection despite the antivirus program. If you prefer manual updates, you should have the AV program remind you of the update on a regular basis.
What should an antivirus be able to do?
Anti-malware programs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Which one you choose depends on the operating system and the technical requirements of the device on which it is to be used. Antivirus programs for PCs with Windows operating systems differ from those for Linux, MacOS or Android . To ensure that it works smoothly and without restrictions, the antivirus program in the background must not consume too many resources.
Security software can perform different actions depending on the version and setting. It is essential to include these basic functions:
- Check files for malware before downloading them
- Check websites for hidden malicious software
- Unmask viruses in real time
- thoroughly remove detected malware
- prevent data from being spied on (for example when entering passwords)
- Check files on the PC for malware
The usability of the protection software also plays a decisive role: a clear user interface and intuitive operation simplify and accelerate handling considerably.
Tips for using an antivirus program
In order for virus scanners to work correctly, the user has to pay attention to a few things. This includes the regular installation of updates for the antivirus program as well as updates for other programs on the PC. In addition, the operating system itself should always be updated to the latest version.
In addition, the following applies: When surfing the Internet, the user should always keep a watchful eye. For example, it is advisable to carefully check the sender of an e-mail before opening the message and never open links or file attachments that have an unknown or suspicious sender. In the event of an emergency, if a malware attack occurs despite all precautionary measures, you should definitely take precautions: through regular backups of all important data stored on the PC.
What antivirus programs are there?
Not all antivirus programs are created equal. The differences in the quality of protection and the scope of functions are great. It is therefore advisable to compare several providers before buying or installing a product. There are both free and paid antivirus programs.
So-called security suites supplement a pure antivirus program with additional functions such as an integrated firewall. The best-known fee-based security suites include Avira, G Data, McAfee, Avast, Eset, Norton, Kaspersky and Bitdefender.
In addition to the paid programs, some providers also offer free virus protection that contains basic functions to protect against malware. The real-time protection of the virus scanner, which is offered by the free versions of Avira, Avast or Kaspersky, is decisive.
Anyone who opts for a free version should expect more or less annoying advertisements and limited functions compared to the paid full version. Each user has to decide for himself whether additional functions of the comprehensive antivirus program are worthwhile, for example a firewall. For example, a Windows operating system already includes a firewall.
Antivirus programs for mobile devices
Since the use of a smartphone is now part of everyday life, there is a growing need to equip mobile devices with a suitable security program. Google has been integrating its in-house Google Play Protect into all Android systems for some time: No separate installation is required, Google Play Protect protects the smartphone from the start.
If desired, users can also use special antivirus programs for Android devices that offer a comprehensive additional package of functions, such as blocking certain callers or an extra firewall. The antivirus apps are particularly worthwhile for users who have their e-mail traffic almost entirely via their smartphone and who download apps from unknown sources. For iPhone users, a separate antivirus program does not usually make sense, as the self-contained operating system only allows checked content.