Anti-virus protection: Do you really need it, the risks without it and the options available

The advent of computer technology has brought about many benefits however with any new development there is often a negative side, one of which is the spread of computer viruses.

The advent of computer technology has brought about many benefits however with any new development there is often a negative side, one of which is the spread of computer viruses. Computer viruses can cause mayhem to personal computers and indeed whole corporate networks.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a piece of malicious code that can affect how a computer operates. Like with regular viruses the code can spread from computer to computer causing disruption to operating systems.

A virus operates by inserting or attaching itself to a legitimate program that uses macros. It will lie dormant until that program opens or operates and it will execute itself.

Computer viruses can be spread via e-mail or text message or via downloads from the internet or on social media.

Avoiding a computer virus

Since computer viruses are malicious and designed to cause disruption it is best to try to avoid them. There are a few ways to avoid getting infected.

A key way to avoid a computer virus is not to click on links or attachments in e-mails or text messages. This is particularly true if you are not expecting an attachment or the E-mail is from an unknown user. Clicking the link or opening the attachment can trigger the virus.

Make sure to surf the internet with care. The internet is vast and there are numerous malicious sites and links which can be easily mistaken for legitimate ones. Take care with the sites you visit.

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from a computer virus is to install an anti-virus software package that will protect you from the harm of these malicious programs.

What is anti-virus protection and how does it work

Since computer viruses are malicious and designed to cause disruption it is best to try to avoid them. One way to avoid them is to install and keep up to date anti-virus protection on your computer.

Anti-virus protection is designed to prevent malicious code getting on your computer and where a computer has been infected it is designed to detect it and remove it.

The types of detection include:

  1. Specific detection will look for known code
  2. Generic detection will look for variants from a common codebase
  3. Heuristic detection will look for unknown viruses by looking for suspicious behaviour.

What are the risks of not having anti-virus protection

Not having anti-virus protection on your computer is like leaving your front door or car unlocked. You are left open and vulnerable to an attack. If a computer virus infects your computer it can cause havoc with your operating system and depending on the type of virus can cause your computer to run slowly, can prevent the opening of documents, spread e-mails to your mail lists; the list is endless.

Suffice to say in addition to the damage on your computer your own stress levels will likely be affected too and to rectify the issue may be costly in financial terms also.

Anti-virus options

There are many options for anti-virus protection. Leading brands include Avast, Norton and McAfee. Each brand and software option will offer different levels of protection and available features from scanning, malware protection, spyware detection and PC optimisation.

Please see the list below for our selection of the best anti-virus protection packages on the market currently.