Do I Need an Antivirus Program?


In summary, yes!  But don’t panic – it’s not very complicated, no matter what those flashing pop-ups and late night TV ads might tell you.

An antivirus program helps defend your computer from malware – “malicious software” – which includes not just viruses, but trojans and worms too. (We’ll explain the differences in a second.) To make sure you’re getting the best out of your antivirus software, only use one (as multiple programs are likely to interfere with each other) and make sure it is always up to date. An antivirus program has to be constantly given new information about current threats in order to be effective.

Here are a few types of threats that antivirus software can help keep away from your computer:

  • Virus: A code that attaches itself to a piece of software you already have. When you attempt to use that software, the virus will activate. It is also capable of replicating itself in order to spread to other computers (thus the name “virus”).

  • Worm: Unlike a virus, it can run independently of any software, making it easier for it to infect your computer. It, too, is capable of self-replication.

  • Trojan: Named after the Trojan Horse, it masquerades as a gift or free program in order to get you to install it to your computer. While the program may work as described, it may also have extra hidden functions – like capturing and recording as much info as it can to send back to its controller.

Malware can be any combination of the above as well. Updates are extremely important to complete antivirus protection. When hackers get thwarted by antivirus software, they make changes to their malware. Once those changes are reported, antivirus programmers will add an update to thwart the hacker’s newest tricks. So if your antivirus program hasn’t been updated for a while, it’s on the losing end of a malware arms race.

Finally, remember what we said about trojans? They’ll disguise themselves as something helpful – like free antivirus programs. Make sure you’re getting your antivirus from somewhere reputable, and not a flashing web ad or a late-night TV infomercial. If you have any questions about where to find good, legitimate antivirus software feel free to call any of our friendly techs at 1-800-762-5383 if you'd like to learn more!