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Antivirus software is designed to protect your computer from malicious code and data breaches. They also scan and remove files and applications that contain malicious code.

Computer viruses, worms and malware affect your system, corrupt your files, and even encrypt your data. It can potentially spread to your friends, family, and networks. In fact, it’s estimated that new malware is created every second.

A virus is a program that enters your computer through a website or an email attachment. It may damage your system, encrypt your data, or send spam. Viruses are usually self-propagate, meaning they latch onto legitimate files and spread to other computers.

As new threats emerge, antivirus vendors must continually update their detection algorithms. New methodologies combine global scanning, human expert threat analysis, and cloud integration. The next generation of antivirus solutions incorporate behavioral detection, sandboxing, and machine learning to address browser hijackers, advanced persistent threats, and more.

While most antivirus programs come free of charge, you can also pay for premium antivirus solutions. These products offer extra features, including parental control. For example, ESET is one of the most prominent antiviruses that offer parental controls.

There are three types of antivirus programs: signature-based, heuristic, and on-access. Signature-based antivirus is a type of protection that checks for matching signatures of known malicious codes. Heuristic-based antivirus is a form of protection that scans incoming files for matching tendencies in their code.

On-access scanning, meanwhile, begins when the antivirus software opens. This method works best when combined with heuristic and behavior-based detection.