Basic Antivirus Software Features
It is not always necessary for antivirus software to have all the ‘bells and whistles’ in order to keep you safe online. It can also be a mistake to purchase something just on the basis of it having lots of gimmicky extras. In order for this type of security product to keep you safe online, it needs to have some important basic functions, and this is what we are going to be considering here.
The Heart of Any Antivirus Software
The name ‘antivirus’ is a bit misleading because this is just one of the types of malware that this software is capable of protecting you from. It is also designed to defend against other examples of malicious software such as worms, Trojans, and ransomware. If any of these threats are able to gain access to your computer they can steal your data, destroy your files, or take over your machine. This is why adequate protection against these dangers needs to be at the heart of any basic antivirus software.
There are two main ways that an antivirus product can keep your machine safe from malware – it can check files for the signatures of known viruses or scan your system for trouble. All the known viruses that are ‘in the field’ are listed in a virus directory, and this has the signature of each of these threats. This means the software can scan for these signatures and be able to prevent this type of file from causing problems. The more popular antivirus products will benefit from a virus directory that is being constantly updated.
This ability to recognize threats can protect you most of the time, but some viruses are able to use camouflage to cause confusion. There are also brand new viruses that have not yet been added to the virus directory. This is why quality antivirus software also scans your system for any strange behavior like attempt to change the code on executable files.
Most Important Antivirus Software Features
The most important antivirus software features are the ones that keep you safe from malware and would include:
- An on-demand scanner means you can instruct the software to do a scan when you notice something suspicious or just want some reassurance
- A real-time scanner is constantly monitoring your system for any threats – it is recommended that you purchase an antivirus product with this ability
- An on-access scanner checks files as you open them
- Scheduled-scanners check all your computer files on a regular basis
- Email scanning checks your messages for any potential threats
- Script blocking prevents certain malicious activity involving suspicious looking scripts
- Heuristic scanners are able to identify when your computer is acting as if it might be infected
- Anti-phishing technology checks email for signs that it might part of a phishing scam (e.g. an urgent email from your bank that really isn’t from your bank)
- A compressed file scanner is able to check things like ZIP files before you open them
Additional Antivirus Features
The premium antivirus products can come with some nice additional features, but these may not be as essential to your security. Parental control is the ability to have more control over what your kids get up to online. You can use this technology to prevent your children from accessing unsuitable website, and it also makes it easier to keep track of their activity.
Some of the best antivirus options now come with file backup in the cloud. Losing things like family photographs, videos, and documents can be a real tragedy, but this is far less likely to happen when you have them backed-up somewhere. It means that even if you lose your computer, your files are still going to be there for you to retrieve from the cloud.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Antivirus Software
An antivirus product can be the most important piece of software you ever install on your computer because if you don’t have this you can lose everything. It is worth considering what each of the different options have to offer in the way of security before coming to any decision. Paying a bit extra for a premium subscription can be worth it for added peace of mind.