How Does Antivirus Software Work?

Antivirus software is an essential cybersecurity tool that, when used correctly, can protect your business from a wide range of cyber threats. It’s designed to both block and remove common cyber threats, including viruses, worms and Trojans. Unless you’re familiar with antivirus software, though, you might be wondering how it works. While there are different types of antivirus software, most of them work in the same way.

Scanning

Antivirus software works by scanning your computer for malicious files. It looks at the files on your computer’s storage drive while cross-referencing them to known threats stored in its database. If a file on your computer matches one of the known threats, the antivirus software will flag as potential malware.

Most antivirus software offers two different scanning options:

  1. Background Scanning: As the name suggests, background scanning is performed in the background of your computer. Whenever you access or open a new file, the antivirus software will scan it in real time.
  2. Complete Scanning: A more thorough way to check a computer for malware is to perform a complete scan. Complete scanning is a more resource-intensive solution that checks all your computer’s files for known threats.

Removal

Once the antivirus software identifies a malicious file, the software will either attempt to remove it automatically or ask you if you’d like to remove the malicious file. Removal involves deleting the malicious file so that there’s no trace of it left behind on your computer.

Quarantining

Not all malicious files can be safely removed. If it’s located in the registry or some other critically important part of your computer’s storage drive, removing it could affect your computer’s functionality and/or performance. Thankfully, antivirus software offers an alternative solution to handle malicious files: quarantining.

Quarantining isn’t the same as removal. When a malicious file is removed, it’s deleted. When a malicious file is quarantined, on the other hand, it’s moved to a different location where it’s isolated from your computer’s other files. Additionally, anti-virus software typically makes changes to quarantined files so that they can no longer be executed.

For antivirus software to keep your business protected from cyber threats, though, you must update it regularly. Neglecting to update your antivirus software will leave your business’s computers and devices vulnerable to new cyber threats. As long as you update your antivirus software as soon as a new version is released, you can rest assured knowing that your business’s computers and devices are protected.