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Antivirus protects your computer against malware and viruses through a combination of prevention, detection, and removal.

Viruses and other types of malicious software can damage your system’s functionality and even shut down your entire computer if not removed promptly. They can also cause a huge headache for you and your IT staff.

The History of AV Technology

A computer virus or malware is an application that attempts to take control of your device or otherwise compromise its functionality. They can worm their way into your hard drive or other devices, change or delete files, and generally make your life miserable.

Modern antivirus products use behavioral analysis, a technique that identifies programs with sketchy behavior. These behaviors could include trying to shut down or bypass installed antivirus software, attempting to contact an external server to download malware, and more.

This type of analysis can be effective for many types of malware, but the downside is that it can generate false positives.

AV technologies also rely on cloud-based checks, which may upload all URLs you visit, metadata about your files, signatures of your files, and more. Companies vary in their disclosure of these policies and may not allow you to opt out of this information sharing.

A comprehensive antivirus solution should be part of a complete security strategy, including employee education, firewalls, intrusion-detection systems, and strong passwords. It can’t protect against all threats, but it will significantly lower the risk of cyberattacks.