What is Antivirus Software and What are the Important Things to Note When Buying Antivirus Software?

What is Antivirus Software and What are the Important Things to Note When Buying Antivirus Software?

What is Antivirus Software and What are the Important Things to Note When Buying Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software is no longer a ‘good to have’ option – they are ‘must-haves’ on your device. This recognition has led to a large number of antivirus software available in the market. So how can you choose the most suitable one? Our experts from cybersecurity will help you understand more about what antivirus is and the important things you need to note when buying antivirus software.

What is antivirus software?

It is software that is designed particularly to scan, detect, defend and remove malware. It has one prime objective, to protect your devices and remove dangerous viruses once detected.

Usually, antivirus programs have both automated and manual scanning options. The automated scanning option can be divided into two – instant and programmed scanning. The former scans downloaded files, discs etc. The latter conducts a complete hard drive scan daily.

Manual scanning allows you to scan single documents and also scan the complete network according to your need.

A complete antivirus program consists of features to help you protect files and hardware from malware like spyware, virus, worms, and Trojan horses and may offer additional features like firewalls and website blocking.

How does antivirus software work?

  • Antivirus software starts with scanning your files and programs to detect suspicious patterns that indicate a malware infection. The user can also schedule scans so the program can run automatically at regular intervals.
  • Once it detects malware, the software eliminates it automatically in the background or notifies you about the threat and asks to remove the dangerous files. 

Antivirus software uses different detection techniques to find the malware. These mainly include:

Signature-based detection

The software searches for a known malware through its signature activities based on the information already collected.

Heuristics-based detection

The software detects the viruses by analysing the file’s code and searching for any malicious or suspicious properties.

Behavioural detection

The software searches for suspicious behaviour in files, like releasing any harmful code or changing any host files. If the antivirus finds these kinds of activities, it will block the file.

Things to note when buying antivirus software

Things to note when buying antivirus software | Computing Australia

Exhaustive coverage

Make sure to choose software that offers protection against all types of threats, such as viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, network attacks, or any other web threats. It is important that the program can detect malicious code and provide comprehensive protection to all entry channels to the computer — including email, the Internet, FTP or more.

Malware Protection Rate

Malware Protection Rate or MPR is a measure of the extent to which a software detects the different malware. Anything that has more than 95% MPR is considered good.

Level of protection

Rather than being limited to malware detection, many antivirus software now comes with a range of features that include Firewall, VPN, spam filter, parental controls etc.

Multi-Device Protection

If you use more than one device that requires protection, it is a good idea to consider options that cover multiple devices. Most reputed antivirus software brands offer such packages. 

Service quality

Choose antivirus programs that were designed to operate in a dynamic environment. To provide quality service, it is important for the antivirus software to – 
Keep on updating without any manual actions;
Automate the scanning process for all the files that were uploaded and downloaded; and
Have the ability to remove all viruses from the computer.

Know your budget

There are obvious advantages to a paid antivirus software, the first of them being ad-free. According to the level of protection and your budget, choose the right one for your system.

User friendly

Antivirus software must be easy to use and navigate. The user must be able to control how it works. All users may not be tech-savvy to go through complicated steps. If it is too difficult to run, the chances are that the user may simply disable it.

Take support

A professional IT security company that creates reliable security programs ensures that the users will have a broad array of support options, which do not cost them any extra money other than what was paid. Users must have the option to contact the support either via email, call or a live chat session.

Jargon Buster

Malware – is a collective name for malicious software created to cause damage to devices and networks. E.g., viruses, ransomware, spyware etc.
Firewall– a network security system that observes and manages incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a predetermined set of security rules.
VPN– Virtual Private Network is an encrypted connection across a public network that provides online anonymity.

Peter Machalski | Blog author | Computing Australia


Peter is the Systems Operations Manager at The Computing Australia Group, he is responsible for managing and maintaining uptime for thousands of client servers. It is a busy portfolio with a lot of responsibility because clients depend on their systems being accessible practically 24 hours a day. It is a far cry from when he started in the industry when most people just worked Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 and we had plenty of time to maintain systems after hours. He also works across other portfolios at The CAG, including projects and service delivery.