I am sure that we all know what antivirus is, or we have heard the name before. And we all know an antivirus is a security software used to protect our companies against computer threats like malware.
I have already gone in-depth on firewalls, and I think that begs for an in-depth on antivirus since they both do a similar job on a computer system.
So before we can go in-depth on the antivirus, we first need to know precisely what it is.
Table of Contents
What Is Antivirus?
Application software indeed serves as a crucial defense mechanism for computer systems against potential threats and malicious programs originating from the internet or connected peripherals. Nevertheless, the fortification against the perils of the internet is incomplete without the presence of a firewall.
The primary function of antivirus software lies in its ability to systematically scan the computer, identifying any malicious programs present.
Subsequently, it takes appropriate action, either by eliminating the detected threats or isolating them in quarantine, contingent upon the severity of the malicious software.
This multi-step process forms the pathway through which antivirus software safeguards a computer system from potential threats.
Mode Of Operation
Upon initiating the antivirus program, the preliminary step is to conduct a scan to ascertain the presence of any malicious programs that may have infiltrated the system.
Notably, various types of scans are available, each delving to a specific depth within the computer’s architecture in its quest to uncover potential threats.
A light scan, characterized by its efficiency, targets specific sections of the computer and typically concludes within a few minutes.
Conversely, a deep scan adopts a more exhaustive approach, scrutinizing nearly every facet of the computer system.
While this thorough examination enhances the likelihood of detecting deeply embedded malicious programs, it comes at the cost of a lengthier scanning duration, often extending up to an hour to complete.
Following the completion of the antivirus scan, the software becomes cognizant of the presence of any malicious software within the computer.
At this point, the antivirus system proceeds to pinpoint the specific file or location where the identified malicious software has taken residence within the computer’s system.
This meticulous process is instrumental in preparing the antivirus for the subsequent actions it will undertake to neutralize or quarantine the detected threats, thus fortifying the overall security of the computer.
Once the antivirus successfully identifies the presence of malicious software during the scan, it goes a step further by recognizing the specific type of malicious program that constitutes the detected threat.
This discernment is crucial as it enables the antivirus to tailor its response and implement appropriate measures to neutralize or contain the identified malicious program effectively.
By categorizing the nature of the threat, the antivirus enhances its ability to counteract a diverse range of potential risks, contributing to a more robust defense against cyber threats.
Following the identification of malicious software, the antivirus initiates decisive action against the malware.
This involves the removal of the infected file, subsequently replacing it with an original, uninfected backup version of the program.
This restorative approach aims to eliminate the threat posed by the detected malware and restore the integrity of the affected program to its pristine state.
In instances where the antivirus encounters challenges in identifying and removing the virus, it adopts a proactive measure.
In such cases, the antivirus discards the infected file and seamlessly substitutes it with a virus-free backup version, ensuring the continued functionality of the program while mitigating the potential harm posed by the malicious software.
Indeed, the progression of antivirus technologies has been prompted by the continual advancement of malware programs. Let’s delve into each generation:
- First Generation:
- Characteristics: Utilized simple scanners relying on virus signatures for identification.
- Limitations: Restricted to specific virus signatures, unable to effectively combat ‘wildcard’ viruses.
- Second Generation:
- Approach: Moved away from reliance on virus signatures, adopting a heuristic approach.
- Method: Searched for code blocks associated with viruses, allowing for a more dynamic identification process.
- Third Generation:
- Key Feature: Introduced memory-resident antivirus programs.
- Recognition Method: Identified viruses based on their activities within the computer system, rather than relying solely on structural attributes.
- Fourth Generation:
- Integrated Approaches: Combined multiple antivirus methods, including scanning and monitoring.
- Behavior-Blocking: Acted as behavior-blocking software, embedded within the computer’s operating system.
- Real-time Observation: Monitored real-time actions for virus-like behavior, enabling immediate blocking of uncertain actions.
- Preventive Measures: Proactively prevented potential damage to the computer system by swiftly blocking suspicious activities.
This progression highlights the adaptive nature of antivirus technology, continuously refining its capabilities to effectively counter the evolving landscape of malicious programs and protect computer systems more comprehensively.
- They only support ‘common interface file system’ and not NIFS file protocol
- It cannot check on read-only files
The continuous evolution of antivirus software is a direct response to the ever-increasing sophistication and malicious intent embedded in the daily release of new virus programs.
Antivirus developers have adeptly incorporated the latest technologies to enhance their software’s capability to identify and eliminate these highly sophisticated threats.
The current landscape of malicious programs often presents challenges even for advanced antivirus solutions, as some viruses are engineered to evade detection by conventional means.
This level of sophistication necessitates ongoing innovation in antivirus technologies to stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape.
Contemporary antivirus software is equipped with cutting-edge features and advanced heuristics to not only identify known viruses but also to detect and neutralize previously unseen threats.
This proactive approach is crucial in ensuring the resilience of computer systems against the relentless and increasingly sophisticated nature of modern malware.