A computer virus is a subset of malware (malicious software) that can self-replicate and modify other programs by inserting its own code. In today’s digital world, up to a third of all computers are affected by some kind of malware. Whether this be computer viruses, trojans, worms, or an advanced persistent threat (APT) program, the person behind the malware intends to do some type of harm like steal resources to do cryptomining, extort a ransom, or steal data. Anti-virus software is designed to identify and block infection from computer viruses and keep these systems safe.

Anti Virus - Cyber Glossary

What is anti-virus software?

Anti-virus software is designed to scan, locate, and eliminate viruses from a computer. Next generation anti-virus (NGAV) programs work to eliminate more advanced forms of malware like trojans, cryptominers, ransomware and APTs.

Once installed, anti-virus software will protect your computer from cyber-security threats and keep your digital workspace, sensitive data, and business information secure.

What type of cyber threats can anti-virus software prevent?

Next-generation anti-virus software can keep your computer safe from a wide range of malware. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Computer Viruses: Computer viruses are self-replicating malware. Viruses, when run, can encrypt, move, delete, or modify your files and data before spreading itself to other systems.
  • Trojans: Trojans are malware that disguise their true intention. Unlike computer viruses, trojans cannot spread themselves and need to be initiated by a user.
  • Spyware: Spyware is malware that can spy on the user. The primary goal of spyware is to collect information about the user or computer and relay this back to the hacker.
  • Keyloggers: Keyloggers can come in both software and hardware forms. In either format, keyloggers record the characters typed on a computer system. In doing so, they can extract personal information from the target, such as passwords and other sensitive information. Anti-virus software can prevent software-based keyloggers from being installed on computer systems.
  • Ransomware: The goal of ransomware is to extort monies by infecting a computer and encrypt important data. The hacker will then request a ransom be paid to release or decrypt the data. Victims are often faced with little choice but to pay the extortion fee.
  • Adware: Perhaps one of the less malicious forms of malware, advertising malware (adware) infects the target's computer to present advertising to the user. While the advertisements themselves may not pose any real threat like identity theft or attempt to extort profits, adware can significantly slow down your computer and act as a foothold for other, more malicious forms of malware.
  • Worms: Computer worms are like viruses, but they will not infect other programs. Rather, the worm is its own malicious software which usually infects systems by exploiting weaknesses or security flaws. Worms then propagate to infect other systems.

How does anti-virus work?

Anti-virus software operates in three key steps: scanning, detecting, and eliminating the threat.

  • Step 1: Scanning: Anti-virus software will conduct a scan of the computer. This is normally done automatically on a schedule, but there is always the option to scan manually. The anti-virus software will scan the files, code, and data on your computer before moving to the next phase.
  • Step 2: Detection: During the scan, the anti-virus software will cross-check any results found with its own extensive database of known malware. If something in the scan matches that in the database, it will be flagged. The databases are continually and regularly updated for the newest and most dangerous malwares.
  • Step 3: Eliminating: Depending on the polices active in the anti-virus software, it will either isolate and quarantine the threat for the user to manually delete it later, or automatically delete it upon detection. Either way, the anti-virus software will effectively mitigate or remove the threat, ensuring the safety of the computer and its contents.  

Protect your business with Sangfor

Sangfor offers network malware protection using Sangfor NGAF and endpoint protection using Endpoint Secure to keep your data and computer systems safe from malware. Read more about NGAF (Next Generation Firewall) and Endpoint Secure, or contact us for more information.

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