Antivirus software is widely available on the internet today with countless antivirus software provides to choose from. In a world where there are so many cyberthreats, viruses, and malware, it is always a good idea to install an antivirus program any time you purchase a new computer even before you browse any website, watch any video or check your email. There are many companies offering antivirus software. Popular options include Avast, Mcafee, and Norton. Most of these have free antivirus protection options.
How to antivirus software programs work?
Antivirus software programs are an integral part of the way the world does computing today. Given the sheer level of cyber threats, these programs have become an indispensable part of today’s tech world.
Top cyber threats include malware, viruses, computer worms, spyware, bots, rootkits, keyloggers, and even most recently ransomware.
Not dissimilar to the human flu virus, a computer virus is designed to spread from host to host (in this case, computer to computer) by replicating itself. The same way the flu cannot spread without the host cell, computer viruses cannot reproduce and replicate a host file or document.
A computer virus is a code or program written to maliciously alter the way a computer operates. It is also designed to spread from one computer to another. It attaches itself to a legitimate program or document then launches its code with potentially unexpected or damaging effects. These can include corrupting or destroying data.
Recent viruses are so sophisticated that they can lay low in a host computer for years without ever being detected. Others mimic the functions of an antivirus program and can be extremely difficult to eradicate.
Like a virus, Spyware is unwanted malicious software that gains access to your computer with the express purpose of stealing data often without the knowledge of the computer owner. It can also gather or steal sensitive personal and financial information and relay it to others including advertisers, data firms, or external users.
According to statistics by Norton Cyber Security Insights Report Global Results, a whopping 978 million people in 20 countries were affected by cybercrime including spyware in 2017, according to.
Recently, the world has been introduced to a new and catastrophic cyber threat: Ransomware. This is a form of malware that gains unauthorized access into the victim’s computer and encrypts important files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. These demands can range from a few thousand dollars to millions.
Examples include the 2015 incident where 20000 computers operated by the Colorado Department of Transportation were taken offline by ransomware. The attackers then demanded payment in bitcoin to restore access. Similarly, in 2018 cyber attackers locked the computers belonging to the City of Atlanta and demanded $55,000 in bitcoin.
Whether its spyware or ransomware, the attackers gain access to the target computers in many cases by pretending to be legitimate contacts. It is not uncommon for the targeted entities to receive emails from familiar sources and once they click the attachment inside the email, the malicious code is deployed.
How spyware and ransomware works
There are several ways spyware and ransomware can gain entry into a target computer. One of the most common delivery systems is through “phishing”. This refers to a process whereby the victim receives emails or links from sources that appear trustworthy. When they click to open the attachments or emails the malware code is launched. The spyware or ransomware then takes over the victim’s computer and grants administrative access to the attackers.
Cost of cyber attacks to the world economy
Cybercrime is clearly on the rise on the digital landscape. Worldwide cybercrime costs an estimated $600 billion USD a year. In 2019 alone, there were over 2.3 billion data breaches, compared to 826 million in 2017.
The attacks have also become increasingly sophisticated and hard to defend against. This means organizations have to spend more to protect themselves.
Statistics show that the average estimated cost of a cyberattack for an enterprise was $1.1 million in 2018. This was 52% higher than the previous year before. This number is expected to rise to $1.7 million in 2019 and beyond.
Malware and web-based attacks were the most expensive, at $2.6 million and $2.3 million respectively. According to Accenture, a whopping third of all cyber attacks came from malware, spyware and ransomware.
However, the biggest jump in costs came from malicious insiders, which are attacks launched by somebody who has authorized system access to a network or a computer.
Last year, insider attacks cost organizations $1.6 million on average, a 15% increase in 2017.
Are Modern antivirus software programs sufficient?
The free option is often available for a trial period of between 14 and 30 days. In the case of Avast or McAfee, the trial version offers basic adequate protection against known viruses and other threats. It also comes with additional benefits such as PC and laptop harddrive optimization and diagnostics tools. These however cease once the trial version expires and one must upgrade to the paid version to continue using them.
The fully paid premium versions come with a lot more features. These include malware detection and removal, email and website protection, browser protection, password managers, and much more. Premium customers can also expect additional features such as registry cleaners, speed boosters, cleanup agents, anti-hijack features and even private VPNs services.
With a seemingly endless amount of pc protection solutions to choose from, it can be hard to make sure you get the right product for you. In most cases, you can use the free versions to scan your computer for viruses and malware. The software will then display a list of the issues and give you the available options. Premium subscribers get more options and features to select, quarantine, and even further protect their computers.
In a lot of cases, the only difference between the free and paid versions is the extra addons such as VPN, parental control, password manager, browser protection, anti-hijack features, etc, But software like Avast has a very potent FREE version which affords all the essential protection for a PC or laptop.
Protection against viruses and other cyberthreats
Here are some top tips and valuable information which will help you make your decision.
Experts recommend you make the investment and buy the full version of the antivirus software of your choice. This is because the free versions ay offer a significantly poorer virus detection rate (around 25% of viruses) whereas a paid version will offer you up to a 90% detection rate. This is a huge difference.
However, in some cases, the antivirus software provider is offering you a free or trial version of their software which is the very same one being for a fee.
So when choosing a provider make sure that the paid version of the software is robust enough for your needs and the likelihood is that your free version will be just as robust. So in summation, how useful is free antivirus software?
Very useful, the key things to remember are that you must do your research before you commit to downloading the antivirus software like 9 times out of 10 you will be downloading the same version of the software like the one you pay for so look for customer reviews if people have paid for the antivirus software and are happy to recommend it then you are on to a winner.
Speeding up the computer
For a long time, it has been known that antivirus programs can also speed up a computer. This is because in many cases, viruses interfere with the regular operations of a PC or laptop and even render it inoperable. Thus eradicating viruses can significantly boost the performance of a computer.
Computers are supposed to make people’s lives easier, yet sometimes it feels like they exist around us only to give us endless amounts of frustration. The most popular advice for all the slow computers includes using a free virus scan to speed up your computer.
But this makes a lot of assumptions about what’s going on all wrong with your computer. Every day when you start up your computer it takes extra time to “read” each breadcrumb, slowing things down. Like any machine that’s exposed to the elements, things start to bog down and the question is will a free virus scan help.
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