How an Antivirus Software Works

If you are alive in the 21st century (and live on planet earth), it would be very unlikely if you hadn’t heard the term: antivirus.

Simply put, an antivirus is a computer program that fights with viruses and malicious software (malware), and ensures that our computers stay secure.

Although different antivirus software implement different tools and mechanisms, the basic virus detection techniques tend to be quite similar. Let’s take a look at some of these techniques to help you better understand how an antivirus software works:

Signature-Based Detection

This tool has been one of the most common and important tools since antivirus came into being. It notes key aspects of a scanned file and creates a sort of fingerprint of the attacking software. It could be some bytes in a file or a coded hash divided into sections.

However, the signature-based detection tool has some limitations. For instance, it does not have the capability to single out malicious content if its signature has not been created. Knowing this flaw, modern cybercriminals exploit it by tweaking with the file’s signature.

Heuristics-Based Detection

1This tool does not create exact signature matches; instead, it checks the PCs files generically to detect any suspicious malware characteristics. It can not only look for the presence of junk codes in files, it can also emulate running certain files to check what they would do if executed, without causing any disruptions to the PC’s speed. Any one suspicious attribute could mean that the entire file is dangerous.

The downside of heuristics-based detection tool is that it can classify perfectly innocent files as malicious.

Behavioral Detection

As the name suggests, the behavior detection tool notices how the program is running instead of emulating. It looks for suspicious behaviors, such as malcode, modified host files etc., which helps it detect previously undetected malware. It is one of the most effective tools widely employed by most antivirus programs.

Cloud-Based Detection

A relatively new tool, cloud-based detection does not work locally; instead, it carries out its protective functions on the provider’s infrastructure facility. To make this happen, it collects relevant data about files and checks the context. Then, it provides this information to the cloud engine for further processing. Finally, the service provider’s cloud engines correlate data from multiple sources and detect questionable patterns.

The major advantage of this tool is that it is open-sourced, so members of the community can benefit from others’ experiences.

Understanding all the relevant aspects of antivirus, ACMMO provides robust online antivirus technical support. Their virus and malware removal services have proved to be quite efficient for small businesses.

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