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How an Antivirus Works?

Last Updated : 04 Apr, 2024
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A virus can destroy our data and affect our computer’s performance by slowing it down. A virus can communicate our sensitive data back to someone else or allow someone to remotely access our computer and utilize it for their reasons. In this situation, antivirus comes into play, antivirus is software that prevents computers from viruses and any kind of malicious software.

What is Antivirus?

Antivirus software is designed to prevent, scan, detect, and remove viruses from a computer or laptop. Once installed, most antivirus software operates in the background to provide real-time virus protection. An antivirus program, which is typically installed on a computer as a proactive cybersecurity measure, can assist prevent a wide range of cyber threats such as keyloggers, browser hijackers, Trojan horses, worms, rootkits, spyware, adware, botnets, phishing attempts, and ransomware attacks etc.

Types of Antivirus Software

Apart from the detection methods explained above, the types of scans an antivirus offers are an equal measure of how successful it is.

  • On-Demand Scan: The term ‘On-demand’ scanning itself means that this feature either runs when the user wants to scan his computer on suspecting any abnormal behavior or the user schedules it to run at a specified time.
  • Real-Time Protection: Almost all modern antivirus programs offer this type of automatic protection that runs in the background thereby increasing chances of catching malware before it does damage. Thus, these types of scans are also known as ‘background guards’. It monitors the system for any suspicious activity in real time while data is loaded into the active memory. For example, when a USB drive is inserted or a downloaded file is executed.
  • Smart Scans: Under Smart Scans, an antivirus only scans the selected files that are more likely to be infected. This type of scanning lowers the need for system resources while protecting against the more common types of viruses, threats, and risks.
  • Spyware Scanners: These scan and remove spyware, which is software that may have been installed on your machine without your knowledge to collect data.
  • ML Antivirus: Machine Learning Antivirus uses machine learning to identify threats. Its ability to learn from previous experiences makes it an effective barrier against unfamiliar infections.
  • Database Antivirus: Uses a database of known dangers to search for, identify, and address threats.
  • Malware Removers: Rather than preventing malware from entering your system, these are intended to remove existing malware.
  • Email Antivirus: Email Antivirus is primarily used to scan and prevent the spread of malware via email.
  • Heuristic Antivirus: Identifies undiscovered viruses by inspecting code for suspicious traits.

How Antivirus Software Works?

  • Antivirus software frequently operates in the background scanning computers, servers, and mobile devices for malware and preventing it from growing. Many antivirus software contain real-time threat detection and prevention to protect against potential vulnerabilities
  • Scans directories or individual files against a library that contains malicious signatures to identify unusual patterns that indicate the presence of malicious software.
  • Allows users to schedule scans so that they can run automatically.
  • Users can initiate new scans at any moment.
  • Removes any malicious software that is detected, either automatically in the background or by informing users about the issues and asking them to delete the files.
  • To scan computers completely, antivirus software needs to be given privileged access to the entire system. This makes antivirus software an easy target for attackers, and researchers have identified remote code execution and other severe flaws in antivirus software products in recent years.

Other Ways to Protect Your Network

Advantages of Antivirus

  • Detecting, preventing, and eliminating viruses, malware, and ransomware from system.
  • Using antivirus, you should consider using a password manager for added security.
  • Antivirus beware of harmful websites and links before clicking.
  • Antivirus software automatically update security features.
  • Some antivirus also boost computer performance.
  • Antivirus helps to tune up your computer to keep it working smoothly and like new.
  • AVG antivirus system is one of the greatest antivirus software in the world, and it provides real-time protection for your computer, laptop, or smartphone.

Disadvantages of Antivirus

  • Antivirus software consumes your system resources including Central Processing Unit(CPU), memory etc.
  • When security flaws exist in the operating system or networking software, the virus can use them to re-run the antivirus programme.
  • Another drawback of a free antivirus programme is the lack of customer service.
  • If you use a free antivirus programme, there is no guarantee that you will receive complete protection.

Difference between Antivirus and Antimalware



Antivirus is a software program that protects the computer system from viruses. 

Antimalware is a software program that protects the computer systems from all malware i.e. viruses, trojans, worms, etc.

Antivirus does not update its rules frequently.

Antimalware updates its rules frequently so that malware detection is easy.

Antivirus protects from predictable danger.

Antimalware protects from unpredictable danger.

Antivirus is comparatively less costly.

Antimalware It is more costly.

For more detail and differences, please refer the Difference Between Antivirus and Anti-Malware published article.

Frequently Asked Question on Antivirus – FAQs

Why do I need antivirus software?

Antivirus protects your computer or laptop from various malicious softwares and viruses.

Which antivirus is best?

  • McAfee Antivirus Plus
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
  • Norton 360 With LifeLock
  • Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
  •  Malwarebytes

Does antivirus drain battery?

Yes, they can drain your battery but accomplish nothing. Anti-virus apps for Android are overrated. Android includes a built-in anti-virus programme named “Play Protect” that is part of Google Play.

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