It can be fairly safely concluded that as long as computers will be a part of our life, there will be a need for antivirus software. When we say antivirus packages, this is partly a misnomer since all intrusions into your computer cannot be termed as viruses. There is a variety of attacks to which your computer is vulnerable and technically, all of them are not viruses and do not cause the same amount of damage. There are viruses, malware, spyware, rootkits, bots, worm attacks, Trojan horse files and more and although all of them compromise your system in some or other manner, the nature and amount of damage caused is different from one to the next.
But before we go further onto that, we must discuss a few common and widespread misconceptions and which may often give us the idea that we can pretty much do without antivirus programs. One most commonly found argument is that safe and responsible browsing pretty much eliminates the need for an antivirus software. In other words, as long as we keep ourselves from downloading executable files from suspicious sources, do not browse shady websites, or click links send to us from unknown persons, we are pretty much in the safe.
Now, this holds true to a certain extent but sadly, there are still enough loopholes in such an approach and dangers may lurk where you least expect it. And no, we are not exaggerating or being dramatic here. In a recent article published on How-to Geek, Chris Hoffman, a cybercrime specialist, puts it that you can even contact malware from visiting fully patched and otherwise highly safe software such as Adobe Flash, Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and so on! Sounds a little fantastic? Well, think again!
As Chris explains, at events like Pwnium and Pwn2Own, the participants are invited to accept challenges to break these patched programs and there are hefty financial rewards to be won by successful contestants. And it so happens that talented contestants or hackers easily crack the security of these browsers and plug-ins by detecting and exploiting their existing security flaws.
It is true that the flaws are patched as soon as one finds them, but that can barely be assuring since new ones keep popping up inevitably. And in our age of advanced technological knowledge, this occurs with rather alarming frequency and there is little sign that the trend will be reversed in near future.
Your system can get compromised in other ways, too. For instance, you open a link sent to you from a trusted person, but that link may already be infected with malware without the knowledge of the person sending it to you. And of course, even if you are not using the internet (although that appears hardly imaginable/viable in our day), your system can still get compromised via portable storage devices. So, the bottom line is common sense is not enough to protect you from a variety of cyber threats and mischief. This is why using an antivirus program seems a sensible choice if you want to protect your computer from harmful intrusions.
How Antivirus Software Can Protect You
Apart from blocking out viruses that can damage your system, an antivirus will offer bot protection and rootkit protection, among other things. Rootkits embed themselves deep inside a computer and help mask other malware. An antimalware program will prevent rootkits from establishing in a system.
Bot protection, on the other hand, alerts a user from any attempt by cybercriminals to take over your system through botnets. An antivirus software will also warn a subscriber if and when some malware gets detected within a Trojan horse file. In a somewhat similar manner to bots, ‘worms’ infect networks and can thereby channel a variety of malware on any or all of the computers connected to that network. An antivirus program also protects you from worm attacks.
Additionally, a good antivirus program will offer features like Instant Messaging Security and Recovery Tools. A recovery tool is important since no matter what some manufacturers may claim, no antivirus program is entirely foolproof and certain malware can sometimes pass through its defenses. The recovery feature allows the user to scan the computer for any such malware and if found, eliminate them.
As the last word, it is always a good idea to purchase a subscription-based antivirus program since this helps the makers of these programs keep your computer free and protected with live updates that are generated to eliminate the latest threats.