An antivirus is a software program designed to detect and remove malware from a computer or mobile device. Traditional antiviruses scan your files against a built-in malware database, flagging unsafe files that match the database. More advanced antivirus programs use machine learning, heuristic analysis, and cloud-based malware directories to detect and remove zero-day threats and very sophisticated malware. All of the best antiviruses offer real-time protection, so they scan every file before it executes to ensure malware never even starts running on your device.
Why do you need an Antivirus?
In recent years, people have become increasingly reliant on electronic devices. It is crucial now, more than ever, to have adequate security to protect your personal information from viruses and hackers. That’s where antivirus software comes in. Antivirus software, also known as anti-malware, is a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malicious software from your computers, tablets, and mobile devices.
There are many different types of malware, viruses being the most well-known. Here we have highlighted some of the lesser-known types of malware that all security-conscious users should be familiar with. To learn more, follow our blog for the latest updates and information.
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2021 Guide to Protect Against and Remove Viruses
Did you know that 1-in-3 computers are infected by malware? Every day, 350,000 malware are detected. Android, iOS, Windows, Mac – it doesn’t matter – hackers are using viruses to try and compromise your security.
And it’s not easy to remove a virus without the right software or a high level of expertise.
You need a deep understanding of viruses to be able to successfully prevent and remove them.
What Are Viruses and How Are They Created?
Viruses are malicious software that has been created to spread from host to host, much like a human virus, but in this case, the host is a computer or device. Malicious code is written to alter the way your device operates and can be attached to documents or files so that they can spread.
Viruses attach to legitimate files and/or software.
When you execute one of these files, the virus is unleashed and can perform any of the tasks that it’s coded to perform. For example, the code may set the file to open on startup so that every time you start the computer, the virus is activated and can spread.
The virus may:
Attach itself and send itself to other computers
Infect multiple devices on a network
Monitor keystrokes and send the data to a hacker
Corrupt your files
Send files to and spam your email contacts
Software can be coded to do virtually anything that, once executed, can impact your devices.
Viruses can be created to work on just a specific network or device, but in 99.99% of cases, they’re designed to spread to reach as many computers or devices as possible.
How We Can Get Viruses?
So, how do viruses spread from one computer to two, 100, 1,000 or even 100,000 devices? Replication. Spreading is vital to the existence of viruses, and this can occur in multiple ways depending on how the developer coded the virus to spread, including but not limited to:
Since a virus can attach itself to files, you can easily get a virus from an audio or video files, and even some images have been known to have viruses. If you go to your favorite website and it’s been compromised without anyone knowing or an ad on the site is infected with malware, it can cause the virus to spread.
A lot of people also click on links from email addresses that they don’t know, which leads to downloading malicious software.
You should never download files or click on links from sources that you don’t know and are unverified. Something as simple as clicking on a malicious email has led to some of the biggest data breaches in history.
The United States power grid was compromised by a phishing attack – one of the easiest to avoid.
Viruses can spread from a simple file download, spam text or email message or from going to a website that has been compromised. Stopping the spread of viruses is easier than it is to remove viruses.
Preventative measures are the best method of protection against viruses.
How To Prevent Viruses
Preventing viruses is possible by using precaution and also installing an antivirus software. A few tips to preventing viruses are:
Only visit trusted websites
Don’t click on links from unknown email addresses
Don’t download files except from trusted sources
But if you want to truly protect against viruses, you need to install a well-known and trusted software that will scan your device in real-time to detect malicious software. The anti-virus should have real-time checking to:
Detect and delete the malicious software
Prevent the software from executing and causing damage
Quarantine viruses unable to be removed so that they can’t cause damage
The right antivirus will offer robust protection against malicious software and potential threats by offering protection against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, malware and other threats.
Some options will also scan websites for malware or malicious code and alert you to any potential threats that may be hidden on the sites that you visit.
A few of the top antivirus software we recommend that work on PC, Mac and usually mobile operating systems are:
Removing Viruses the Right Way
Removing a virus is a complicated process unless you stop the virus through real-time scanning.
The process is possible, in some cases, manually, but it’s going to be difficult to do, especially for advanced viruses that attach to system files that your computer or device needs to run properly.
Older viruses, in some cases, were able to be removed.
Today, most viruses require a virus scanner to remove all traces of the virus. A standard process to remove a virus from a PC is:
Download a virus scanner and install it. If your Internet connection is compromised or websites are being blocked, download the antivirus software on a USB drive from a non-infected device.
Disconnect from the Internet, which may mean shutting off your WiFi, turning off your router or even putting your smart device on airplane mode.
On a PC, restart the computer in what is known as “safe mode.” You should be able to get to safe mode by restarting your PC and hitting F8 to bring up the advanced boot options menu on pre-Windows 10 systems. Find the “safe mode” setting and boot up. Follow these instructions for entering safe mode in Windows 10.
Run your virus scanner at this time.
Follow the prompts to delete or quarantine any viruses or malware that was found during the scan.
You’ll want to jot down the name of the malicious software so that you can research it further in the future if you want.
Restart your device, scan again and see if the virus has been fully removed. You can follow a similar process in all devices minus the safe mode step, which is for Windows users. Once you’re sure that the system is virus-free, you can put back on the Internet and start the next process: changing all of your passwords. You should take this time to install and updates available for your operating system or the software that you use.
Changing your passwords is important because most viruses aim to compromise your accounts.
We recommend researching the virus that was installed and removed from your computer to learn what behavior the virus had. A little research will let you know if the virus sent your passwords to a hacker, what files and documents were impacted and what ramifications may still exist even after removing the virus.
In the most serious cases, a virus may render your system unsafe or unusable requiring a lengthy operating system reinstall.
Our Top 3 Antivirus Picks for 2021
Norton’s smooth, seamless performance sets it apart from the competition.