Ensuring the security of your data is a fundamental need for all users who often surf the net. Antiviruses are more valuable tools than ever, which should be on everyone’s devices. But how do you choose the right one? By reading this guide you will find all the information you need to make your selection in the most informed way possible.
Antivirus: what they are and how they work
Antiviruses are software that is designed to recognize and eliminate computer threats that are harmful to the security of computers. There are many types of such dangers: viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, adware, and many others. Visit this page for more information. Antivirus generally uses four types of techniques to perform their task, which can be used individually or in combination with each other.
Main antivirus techniques:
Control of signatures: also called a signature, it uses databases that contain all the code sequences present in known viruses. The detection of the virus works by comparing its structure with those contained in the databases. If the two match, the malicious program is immediately blocked. Obviously, since this method is based on the recognition of already known dangers. It offers no protection against new types of malware not yet discovered; therefore it is essential to immediately update the databases as soon as new viruses are discovered.
Heuristic analysis: the heuristic analysis method is effective for identifying viruses not present in databases, and is based on the control of the source code of the suspicious program, which is compared with that of known threats. If a certain level of similarity is found, the program is flagged as potentially dangerous. Another heuristic method of detecting malware disguising itself as legitimate software is by checking checksums, numerical values that verify that a program’s code has not been altered.
Behavior checks: sandboxes, ie virtual environments that simulate the user’s system space, can be used to check the behavior of a program. Potential viruses are released in sandboxes, so you can check in a safe environment if any abnormal behavior has occurred. If so, the software is reported as dangerous.
Machine learning: thanks to data mining and artificial intelligence algorithms, specialized programs can be trained to immediately recognize particular instructions associated with malicious operations in the code of the software with a unique data layer security. With this method, no type of comparison is necessary, since artificial intelligence has already been trained previously and identifies the various forms in which threats can occur.
How to choose a suitable antivirus
After understanding the various ways of antivirus operation, it is time to understand which one is right for us. There are many lists that collect such services. Yet, it may not always be easy to understand what distinguishes them from one another.
Features that a good antivirus should have:
Protection from all kinds of threats: It might seem obvious, but antivirus should be able to respond efficiently and quickly to all kinds of threats. Not just common viruses, but also all different types that may require a wide variety of methods to be discovered.
Constant monitoring: a program that discovers a threat only after it has infected the system is useless. It is important that antivirus software constantly monitor what your computer is doing and prevent potentially harmful actions from being performed. For example, by checking files downloaded from the internet before they are opened. By scanning complete systems capable of highlighting anomalies otherwise difficult to detect. Or by filtering Internet pages in order to block those that try to infect users in various ways. An integrated firewall service could be useful for this last function.
No false positives: it may happen that an antivirus reports files that are actually perfectly harmless as threats. This situation is absolutely to be avoided, as it can lead to unpleasant consequences. Once a file has been marked as dangerous, in fact, it is placed by the program in a sort of “quarantine”, space where it cannot interact with the rest of the system, from which it can then be deleted. If the user, not noticing the false positive, proceeded with the operation, he could delete data that he needed instead. For this reason, in addition to the “false negatives” (ie malicious files that are not detected by the antivirus). It is equally important that the software does not overdo it and produces too many false positives.
File shredding services: Not everyone knows that even once files have been deleted via the recycle bin, they can still be temporarily recovered. In fact, as long as they are not overwritten. The deleted data remains on the physical memory of the system, and can still be stolen by malicious programs. Therefore file shredding services integrated with the antivirus are useful that allows you to completely eliminate all traces of the files that you want to completely delete.
Beware of compatibility issues
In some cases, it can happen that the antivirus worsens the performance of your system significantly. That absolutely should not happen in the case of quality service. It can happen due to a file monitoring method. That is too ineffective or invasive, or due to compatibility problems between the antivirus and other programs on the computer. In this regard, it is important to remember never to use two antiviruses at the same time. Because they could interfere with each other and cause problems.
Finally, here we are with the fundamental question: is it necessary to pay to take advantage of effective services, or is it enough to resort to free ones? The answer may vary.
In fact, there is a large amount of free antivirus able to perfectly perform the basic functions of identifying malicious programs. Perfect for those who have no particular needs. On the other hand, these can often be without additional functions, such as VPN services. This instead can be useful for those who need more complete protection.
Paid antivirus is recommended for companies, people who work with important data. That absolutely must not be compromised, or only for those who spend a lot of time online and are particularly exposed to threats that can be hidden on the Internet.