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Antivirus is a software program that detects, isolates, and removes malicious code (otherwise known as malware) from your computer system. It’s the most common type of cybersecurity protection, and it can protect your devices from attacks that may harm your data or cause a computer to crash.

Malware can steal your data, hijack your computer, or wreak havoc in other ways. It can damage your files, monitor your accounts, or even spy on you through your webcam. To combat these threats, antivirus software scans your system, looking for any suspicious activity or “fingerprint” that could indicate the presence of malware. Antivirus programs also have a database of signatures that identify common types of malware. Using this information, they can spot and isolate dangerous programs as soon as they enter your system.

In addition to spotting and isolating viruses, malware, and other malicious software, antivirus can prevent their transmission to other devices on your network. For example, when you connect a removable device to your computer, the antivirus software will scan it to ensure it’s free from viruses before it can be used to infect other computers or transfer to external devices.

The most robust antivirus programs are part of a security suite, which can offer extra layers of protection like VPNs to safeguard your privacy and anonymity, password managers that keep your logins safe, and tools for safer web browsing. This way, you can enjoy the convenience and efficiency of your favorite apps while staying safe from cyberthreats.