Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is crucial to safeguarding your personal information, data, and even your bank account from potential risks. It provides a robust defense against various cyber threats, ensuring the security and integrity of your digital assets.

You may be interested in taking a look at our other antivirus tools:
Trojan Killer, Trojan Scanner and Online Virus Scanner.

What is Antivirus Software in 2024?

Antivirus or Anti-Malware?

January 04, 2024

Most users think anti-malware and antivirus programs are synonyms. This statement is correct for some reason and from a certain point of view. By most attributes, these programs are similar but still have enough differences to be classified separately. So what is the difference between antivirus and anti-malware?

Antivirus and anti-malware share many similarities as they are both globally classified as cybersecurity tools. Both types may offer active and passive protection features. Technically, the distinction lies in their system recovery abilities: an antivirus program can execute various recovery operations after a virus attack.

In their classic form, viruses are malicious programs that inject their code into other executable files to replicate. These actions not only slow down the system but also result in various program failures. Additionally, incorporating viral code into legitimate applications provides an easy pathway for exploiting vulnerabilities in specific programs.

On the other hand, anti-malware programs are designed to remove malicious programs and prevent their execution in the protected system. While some anti-malware tools may have limited system recovery capabilities, they typically focus on fixing system configurations and registry entries. It's important to note that anti-malware software cannot eliminate malicious code from programs infected by viruses.

How to Choose Antivirus or Anti-Malware?

When deciding between antivirus and anti-malware software, prioritizing essential functionalities is key. While a program with more capabilities may seem better, it's crucial to consider the cost associated with each program element and the developer's time investment. Adhering to the principle of spending only on necessary features is vital for cost-effective choices. Typically, full-size antivirus software tends to be more expensive than anti-malware programs. Opting for a program with the right balance of functions is essential to prevent unnecessary expenses.

If you use a limited number of programs and find that reinstallation won't be overly time-consuming, anti-malware software can be sufficient. This security tool class is designed to help you restore the system after a malware attack, though third-party software recovery may be required. Despite potentially having the same protective features as antivirus tools, anti-malware programs often offer a more cost-effective solution.

On the other hand, if your PC hosts numerous applications, or if you prefer not to spend considerable time reinstalling programs, antivirus software is the preferred choice. While it comes at a higher cost, antivirus programs offer comprehensive recovery, restoring both system apps/settings and installed software.

Features of a Great Antivirus Software

How can you determine that a specific security product surpasses others? It boils down to the number of features it offers. We're not referring to supplementary elements like VPN, parental control, or disk encryption. The aspects to focus on are directly tied to the anti-malware functionality. These include regular and frequent updates, real-time scanning capabilities, moderate resource consumption, automated system cleanup, and omni-directional protection. Let's delve into each one.

Regular and Frequent Updates

The malware landscape evolves rapidly, challenging even the most vigilant malware analysts. Software that isn't designed to anticipate future threats struggles to react effectively to new challenges. While a heuristic engine helps mitigate obsolescence, daily (or even hourly) updates are crucial for optimal security from your tool.

Real-Time Scanning

Real-time or proactive protection scanning involves continuous background monitoring of all processes running on your system. Whether you open a folder or launch an application, the antivirus tool conducts checks. This feature may consume more resources, especially on systems with HDD, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. A well-implemented heuristic engine, the foundation of proactive protection, detects all potential malware injection attempts.

Moderate Resource Consumption

Is it pleasant to have your PC frozen due to high CPU usage by antivirus? We don't think so. Security tools should not monopolize 80% or more of your CPU power, comparable to some malware. A proper antivirus protection tool must be resource-efficient, especially on weaker and outdated devices.

Automated System Cleanup

Considering the integral role of the Internet in our daily activities, a PC without an internet connection is hard to imagine. However, the internet is a major source of threats and system-cluttering files. A good antivirus software must include regular system scans and cleanup functionality. Ideally, it should offer both automatic and manually scheduled modes, providing users with maximum flexibility.

Omni-Directional Protection

While the internet is the primary source of malware, threats can manifest in various ways. Some antiviruses might overlook checking files from apps deemed trusted. This is unacceptable when seeking complete protection. Even with "trusted" apps, which are potential attack surfaces, it's better to err on the side of caution and conduct thorough checks.

How does Antivirus Software work?

Antivirus software is essential for protecting your system from various cyber threats. Let's explore the methods it employs for malware detection.

Detection systems that are active in antivirus software

Signature-based Detection Mechanism

The classic method involves comparing file hashes with a signature database. Each program's unique signature is akin to a real person's signature. The comparison occurs locally and in the cloud database, balancing disk space requirements and detection rates.

Behaviour-based Detection Mechanism

Heuristic detection focuses on malicious behavior in processes. It scans running processes and their accessed folders, blocking suspicious activities. Once a match is found in the signature database, the related process is halted, and the malware is removed. This proactive approach forms the basis of most antivirus systems.

Well-designed antivirus software, such as GridinSoft Anti-Malware, empower users to choose actions against detected threats.

The removal process involves completely deleting virus files, bypassing the bin stage, ensuring a thorough clean-up of the system.

In summary, antivirus software combines signature-based and behavior-based detection mechanisms for comprehensive protection against cyber threats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Windows 11 need antivirus?
Windows 11 comes with the integrated Microsoft Defender, which provides proactive protection. However, due to its codebase issues and a significant number of bugs, some of its functionalities may not work as expected. Recent updates have improved its performance, but it's advisable to consider complimentary software for better scanning capabilities.
Does antivirus slow down PCs?
Antivirus programs, like any other software, can consume minimal CPU/RAM when idling and more resources during scanning. Proactive protection may slightly increase CPU usage. On systems with HDD, scanning and proactive protection could cause lags due to lower disk reading speed.
Are free antivirus programs safe?
The safety of free antivirus programs varies. Test versions of reputable paid security tools offered for free are generally safe. They may have limited features and no removal functions, making them suitable as anti-malware scanners. However, be cautious of free antiviruses claiming full functionality, as they might be rogue software or scareware, aiming to prompt payment for false threats. Thankfully, such instances are rare nowadays.
Do I need both antivirus and anti-malware?
While having both antivirus and anti-malware is possible, spending over $100 per year for similar functionalities may not be rational. Antivirus software is beneficial for repairing files after a malware attack, making it suitable for users with numerous applications. However, it is more resource-demanding. Anti-malware programs focus on system components, making them ideal for users with fewer third-party applications and those seeking cost-effective, resource-efficient solutions. Choose the one that suits your needs!