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If you’re connected to the Internet on a desktop or laptop computer, you need antivirus protection. Viruses and malware have been around for decades, and even a single infection can cause serious damage to your computers and data. Antivirus is one of the core tools that MSPs use to protect their clients from digital threat actors, and a strong understanding of how it works is an essential component of your cybersecurity strategy.

The basics of Antivirus

An antivirus program (or a suite of programs) is designed to detect, prevent, and eradicate malware infections on singular devices or entire IT systems. It typically runs in the background, allowing users to browse and download files without interruption, while also monitoring day-to-day programs for abnormal behavior that may indicate a malicious attack.

The traditional method of antivirus protection is called “signature detection.” When a new virus or piece of malware appears, it gets added to the program’s database. The software then searches the database for any matches, and if it finds a match, it alerts users and takes action to neutralize the infection.

This is a powerful method of protection, but it is not foolproof. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their attacks, and if there’s any chink in your security defenses, they will try to exploit it. For this reason, it’s critical that you use multiple layers of protection – including antivirus software and a firewall – in your overall cybersecurity strategy. Antivirus solutions can be enhanced with advanced features like behavioral detection, cloud-based scanning, sandboxing and machine learning to provide comprehensive coverage against today’s sophisticated threats.