Antivirus software is used to detect, fix or remove infected computer files and documents with viruses. It also prevents the computer from spyware, adware and other kinds of malware. To understand the purpose and function of antivirus software it is very essential to know what computer viruses are.
A virus relates to the health of the computer and can do number of things. They are small software programs that interfere with computer operations. They are usually hidden and are designed in a way that they can easily spread from one computer to the other. There are many kinds of viruses such as, worms, Trojans, Adware, Spyware, Rootkits, Phishing and Spam.
A virus if not treated on time might delete or corrupt data stored, erase everything on computer hard disk or even can use email programs to spread itself to other computers. Usually, computer viruses are spread through instant messaging messages or emails (Filiol, 2005, 67). They can also be disguised as humorous attachments, audio and video files or greeting cards. Computer viruses can also be hidden in illicit programs, software or files a person might download. Hence, they can be spread by internet downloads. It makes a computer run slowly, sends unauthorized messages, damage part of a system, prevent computers from booting up and might attack other machines and devices attached to a computer. Therefore, antiviruses are used in order to protect the computer from such threats (Henderson, 2005, 23).
These days there are so many different types of antivirus programs. Modern antivirus packages secure the computer more effectively and efficiently and protect the PC from viruses, Trojans and worms by scanning data and files present in a computer. If a virus is found, antivirus software immediately informs and tries to remove the threat. It has variety of benefits and plays an important role in the safety of a computer (Bentley 2001, 123). However, no matter how advantageous antivirus software is, at times it can have some drawbacks.
“In this assignment, I will discuss the advantages of modern antivirus software and its limitations that can harm a computer.”
Modern antivirus software offers several benefits to protect computer from harmful threats. The key benefit is that it prevents the computer from virus-related damages that can destroy a PC’s operating system, various functionalities of the computer or any network to which a computer is attached (Nguyen, Jo & Howlett, 2008, 242). It is the policeman at the gate of the computer system and maintains computer’s security. It protects the PC from malicious threats and destroys, seeks out and warns of possible threats to the system. Vigorous constantly updated software builds a firewall to enhance and boost a computer’s overall safety (Gookin, 2009, 154). It helps in running all computer operations optimally and secures the browsing experience and internet accessing.
Antivirus programs are relatively effective in protecting PC from email threats and spam. It scans emails and email attachments that might be infected with harmful viruses and threats (Syngress Media, Inc, 2000, 382). Due to antivirus software critical data, presentations; documents, information, photos and other material stored on a PC are saved from malicious virus infections or virus attacks (Dunn, 2002, 58).
It also reduces the potential financial implications. Superficially protected or unprotected computer is inclined to sudden and diverse virus attacks. Antivirus software denies the need of technical support professionals and resort to other costly measures to secure PC and helps recover valuable data. Antivirus software helps in saving valuable time and prevents from cleaning and removing virus after the harm has been done. It also thwarts other individuals outside your organization being able to access your important data and information whether it is personal or business.
In addition to benefits mentioned above, antivirus software has drawbacks also. It can degrade the performance of the computer by slowing down the speed of the computer or network (Bidgoli, 2006, 34). The software might require a lot of space in the hard disk, hence utilizing a lot of memory and space.
Antivirus software should be regularly updated, preferably on a daily basis because new harmful viruses are developed and the antivirus deal with them by developing counters measures. Several antivirus programs update on daily basis which slows down the internet connection (Hunter, Shimonski, Khan & Stranger, 2003, 273).
All the antiviruses are not effective at dealing with viruses so there might be a need of more than one antivirus program. However, it is very important to make sure that two systems running together do not conflict and interfere in computer operations. Good and effective antivirus software is often expensive and yearly (and sometime monthly) fee is required (Fergusan, 2005, 68).
A signature based antivirus cannot detect all the viruses due to several reasons. If an attacker changes the signature of a particular virus, signature based antivirus will not be able to find the virus (Morley & Parker 2004, 81). Signature based antivirus software is unable to detect new viruses as the virus is not present in its database. Therefore, antivirus software should be upgraded after some time (Vacca, 2009, 59). Signature based antivirus software cannot detect Polymorphic viruses because the signature of the virus changes, if the mutation engine of a polymorphic virus is generating a new encrypted code.
At the end it can be concluded that modern antivirus software are very useful and effective in safeguarding a computer’s system but still they are not perfect enough to fight with every kind of viruses. Unfortunately, there will always be a need for up-to-date antivirus software because new viruses are being developed every day and are becoming increasingly difficult and complex to discover. Once antivirus software is installed in computer, it is very important to make sure that entire computer is scan periodically.
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