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Antivirus protects your computer and other connected devices against viruses, worms and malware.

While antivirus is a common term, there are many different types of security software, with some protecting only computers and others offering protection for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Antivirus is an application that helps prevent, scan and remove known malware, including viruses, trojan horses, adware and spyware. It also includes firewall features to anticipate unapproved access to your PC.

Virus: Malware is malicious software that latches onto a legitimate file and spreads through email, systems and devices. It may steal data, damage systems or degrade performance.

Worm: A worm is similar to a virus but can be a standalone program that spreads through system networks and emails. It may also be able to spawn other malware programs and maintain persistence on an infected machine.

In addition to traditional signature-based detection, modern antivirus software uses behavioral analysis to identify malicious software. Behavioral analysis looks for applications that are trying to perform specific functions and if those activities can be detected, then the threat is quarantined or deleted.

As threats evolve, antivirus vendors need to adopt next-gen approaches that extend the power of signatures with behavioral detection, machine learning and sandboxing. These methods leverage global intelligence sources to catch zero-day malware and stop attacks before they can harm systems. They are especially helpful for detecting ransomware, which encrypts files and demands payment to unlock them. Behavioral detection can spot this and halt the attack in its tracks, rolling back encryption if necessary.