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Antivirus is software that helps protect a computer from viruses, spyware, ransomware and other types of malware. It uses signature, heuristic and behavior-based detection methods to identify and prevent threats from entering a device. It also runs suspicious programs in a virtual sandbox environment to monitor how they behave and ensures that no data or hardware is compromised, even if the program is found to be malicious.

The best antivirus protection works constantly to update its database of file signatures in order to stop the latest threats as they emerge. This is why it’s important for MSPs to learn about how antivirus works so they can provide the most robust protection possible to their clients.

Some antivirus software uses a heuristic approach to detect malware threats, rather than relying solely on the signature database of known file types. Heuristic-based detection looks at how a file or program behaves to determine whether it may be harmful. The program can then isolate and remove the virus or file, quarantine it or block its access to other files.

Another important feature of the best antivirus protection is cloud-based detection. This method is the modern version of signature-based detection and eliminates the need to manually keep the antivirus database up to date.

The majority of antivirus programs are now available as an annual or monthly subscription, and many offer different tiers to meet the needs and budgets of customers. It’s important to consider the number of devices that will be protected by the program, how frequently the software updates, its compatibility with each operating system and how much customer support is offered.