How Does Antivirus Software Identify Potential Viruses?

It’s essential to understand how your antivirus software identifies threats. Cyber-terrorists continue to develop more dangerous viruses and malware that can infiltrate computers and make copies of information, corrupt documents, and cause damage to other things. Most antivirus programs are designed to identify and eliminate malicious threats before they can cause harm. They do this by analyzing and scanning your data, system files and computer applications.

Typically, antivirus programs employ signature-based detection in order to assess the files that you download against a database of known virus signatures. This method looks for signatures of a specific virus, and then finds the appropriate program or file, and warns you in the event of a match. It’s a good technique however, hackers continue to create new types malware. To detect them, antivirus software needs to keep its definition files up-to current with the most up-to-date virus signatures.

Another method used by hackers to evade antivirus scanners is to encrypt the malware’s payload. Once a virus has been encoded, it can be evaded scans and signatures as it isn’t executable. This is usually accomplished by attaching a small header to the virus. This allows it to jump the counter and execute the virus at the first chance.

Antivirus software uses various methods to search for viruses that include heuristic-based detection, as well as behavior-based detection. Heuristic-based analyses are similar to signature detection, in that it searches for patterns and tendencies in the program’s behavior. Heuristic detection, which uses an approach of trial-and-error can identify viruses that signature-based methods can’t.

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