In this day and age, nearly every computer user has had the misfortune of dealing with some type of computer malware –although some don’t know it. In my computer service career I have rarely run across a machine I can’t reveal some type of malware infection on. I’d say about 80% of the computers I see at my shop have at least one malware infection. When I tell people they usually respond in shock with “WHAT . . . . but I have antivirus software . . . how can this be?” My answer – very easily.
That’s why I wrote this blog post — to shed a bit more light on the subject . . . . and a few other misconceptions surrounding the programs that are SUPPOSED to prevent malware infections.
1. There’s no such thing as a 100% effective anti-virus program. There are literally thousands of new malware programs being released each day. It can take time for the developers of your antivirus program to develop methods for dealing with these new programs. In the interim – you can be infected.
2. No antimalware program can replace good web browsing and computer management habits. It’s not just downloading pirated copies of expensive software or movies from file sharing sites or pornography where all infections come from. This is a myth. They are often rolled into relatively benign free utilities that most people think will help them in some way, shape or form. It can be difficult to determine if such files are safe, useful utilities (some are) or actually serving as a virus-spreading mechanism.
Other popular places to get infected are sites where there are free games, music, apps, movies, recipes, or anything else you don’t have to pay for. Often times malware and virus infections will come in through these websites as drive-by downloads and slip right past your antivirus software.
3. Antivirus software is both proactive and reactive. The software available today is able to use heuristics to examine the behavior of a computer file. Even if a specific known virus isn’t identified, the file can still be determined to be malware. This is a great method of early detection when dealing with new malware but not even close to 100% effective.
4. Files and software on your computer that have been damaged by malware can’t always be repaired. While it is possible for a highly skilled computer repair shop owner to remove the infections from your computer completely repairing all your files or software to their pre-viral state isn’t always possible. That’s why back-ups are so important!
5. One is better than two. Never do this, period. Anti-virus software is very heavy software and running two antivirus programs simultaneously slows system performance to the extent it can actually expose your compromised system to infections.