Antivirus Software – Why you need it & where to get it

Antivirus SoftwareIn this modern era computers are working into more and more of our everyday lives. From surfing the internet at home, to managing your business, to even holding meetings every aspect of life in one way or another involves a computer. Medical records are stored on computers, financial data is stored on computers, and with every passing second the number of entries in databases containing personal information increases exponentially.

Nowadays, computers and databases contain reams of data about you and your customers that needs to stay in your hands, and out of the hands of attackers who may be seeking to steal data and sell it or use it to compromise the identities of you and your customers.

It’s been said for centuries that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in the world of computers that prevention frequently takes the form of antivirus software. Antivirus software is software that runs on your computer seeking out harmful programs and preventing them from executing. However this extreme demand for antivirus software has led to a plethora of competing products with vastly differing costs and features, and it can be difficult at best to decide which product is the right one for you and your business. Something as simple as an antivirus download could mean the difference between a smoothly running network, and a lawsuit for irresponsible handling of customer personal information.

Antivirus software is as diverse as the programs it’s meant to defend against. That does not mean however that the most expensive product is the right one for your needs, or even the best product available. There are several options available in the realm of free antivirus that can more than adequately meet your needs. An important thing to remember before you start that antivirus download is that these products and the programs they protect against are in a constant state of flux, and that means you should always be ready to change tactics if the product you have chosen becomes less reliable.

Before covering which free antivirus products should be your antivirus download of choice. It is important to note the differences between viruses, spyware, and adware, as well as the kinds of viruses.

Viruses are generally software applications designed to infect a target computer and cause it to behave erratically, steal information, or simply propagate the virus. The most malicious of these can be used to establish a “bot net” of infected computers that can be used to attack a target at the virus writer’s direction. Another common type of virus is known as a “Trojan” virus. These viruses simply infect a target computer and then download other viruses. These viruses are commonly used to steal personal information such as passwords and account information.

Another common form of virus is the “worm” which simply infects a computer, generally through a software application that has not been kept up to date, and then scans nearby computers on the same network for the same vulnerability. These viruses are the ones most commonly used to set up bot nets as the attacker knows that the infected computers all have at least one common point of vulnerability.

Spyware, on the other hand, is designed to track what you do on your computer and report back to the attacker what you have been doing. Generally these programs will also pop up ads on your computer to show you products related to what you have been searching for most recently.

Adware differs from spyware in that it just pops up ads all over your screen, with no regard as to what you have been doing on the computer.

Therefore, there are a few features in antivirus software that you should look for in a product. Most free antivirus programs give you the capability of scanning your computer for infections and removing them, however the more advanced antivirus programs will actually remain resident in your system scanning and stopping viruses before they have a chance to infect your computer.

Another feature to look for in an antivirus download is link-scanning. Link scanning allows the antivirus software to watch what links you are clicking on online, and warn you if the site on the other end is infected.

The trade off for that protection is a heavy drain on system resources, so it is important to find a balance between good protection and good performance.

There are several excellent free antivirus programs out there such as Avast, AVG, and AntiVir. These programs can be easily found by simply performing a web search for the name of the product, and clicking the download link. In most cases, if the basic protection provided with the free antivirus product is not sufficient, these programs will have a paid version as well with more functionality.