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Antivirus protects computers and laptops, as well as the data on them, from malicious software. This software, also known as malware, can be downloaded via dubious attachments in emails, hidden on USB drives or simply by visiting a dodgy website. Once on a computer, it can steal or corrupt data, disable or slow it down and even hijack your device to attack other systems. The best antivirus software will detect and remove any virus or malware and prevent further infections.

Malware includes a range of cyberthreats including viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, adware and keyloggers. Each of these cyberattacks has a different purpose, but they all function to damage or steal information. For example, a virus may infect your device to steal your passwords or credit card details and adware can enter your device and generate unwanted pop-up ads.

Traditional antivirus software uses a database of known file signatures to identify malware. However, these databases can become out of date, so more advanced solutions use cloud-based detection to identify threats based on their code. This means that your system will always have the most up-to-date definitions to protect you from new attacks.

Antivirus solutions also include a range of additional cybersecurity features to provide a complete suite of protection. These can include a VPN, a password manager, parental controls, dark web monitoring and more. A good antivirus will also work across a range of devices and operating systems, including Windows, macOS and mobiles.