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Antivirus protects computers and mobile devices from malware and cyberattacks by scanning data on local drives, incoming emails and applications for malicious software, attachments or suspicious activities. It then quarantines, deletes or blocks the infected files or programs to prevent malware from spreading to other systems within a network.

Most antivirus software works by comparing new and unknown files to a database of virus signatures that have been analyzed and confirmed by security experts. The process is known as heuristic detection. It can also be used to identify malicious software that has been disguised or modified from its original form.

While this method can flag some false positives (when the software incorrectly identifies a legitimate program as malware), it is still the most effective way to detect and block new threats. In order to maximize protection, antivirus software should be updated frequently with the latest malware information.

The days when off-the-shelf antivirus software was sufficient to keep a business safe are long gone. Today, hackers and malicious coders are incredibly smart and skilled at evading traditional security measures. As such, it’s important for MSPs to understand how antivirus fits into their larger cybersecurity strategy.

Antivirus programs are an important layer of protection that helps mitigate a wide range of cyber threats, including Trojan horses, worms, rootkits, spyware, adware and more. However, antivirus software is limited in its ability to protect against threats that attack a system post-infiltration, such as stealing passwords or sharing personal data on the dark web. To help combat these sophisticated threats, it’s recommended to use a combination of security tools, such as endpoint detection and response or advanced threat prevention, in addition to an antivirus solution.