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Antivirus is a baseline tool MSPs use to protect their clients against malicious files and digital threat actors. However, understanding how antivirus weaves into a wider cybersecurity strategy requires more than just installing the software.

Antivirus programs work by searching, detecting, preventing and removing software viruses from devices and networks. They can also be used to scan and prevent worms, Trojans, adware, ransomware and other types of malware.

These programs usually run automatically in the background to provide real-time protection. They often compare incoming files and applications against the software “signatures” of known viruses to identify them. Since malware code is constantly being created and changing, antivirus vendors regularly refresh their infection databases to catch these new infections.

In addition to scanning incoming files and applications, some antivirus programs are also capable of testing, quarantining/isolating, deleting and alerting the user when they detect a threat. The most effective antivirus programs are those with high detection rates, meaning that they catch a large percentage of malware during controlled tests.

A comprehensive antivirus solution should be able to protect PCs and Macs, smart phones and tablets and any other device with access to the internet that may be vulnerable to attack. This includes connected TVs, e-readers and other smart devices.

While size doesn’t always matter, businesses present a bigger target for hackers looking to score massive caches of consumer data or make a name for themselves through hacktivism (disrupting professional systems for political or social reasons). That said, it’s important for all organizations regardless of their industry to institute robust defenses to combat malicious attacks.