How Antivirus software works [Tip]

Antivirus software works on our digital devices in a way to protect those devices from programs that would harm the devices programming and often make them unusable. Viruses are also used to obtain information from our computers when we are unaware of it.

If you use any device that connects to the internet, then the rule of thumb is that your device needs compulsory antivirus protection. You may be in for a nasty surprise if your personal information is stolen by an unsavory character, or your personal computer, laptop or mobile phone is rendered unusable by a virus or some malware threat from the internet. Antivirus software works by keeping both your personal information private and your internet devices working safely.

Devices at Risk

The devices today at risk include your humble personal computer, laptop, Mac computers and lately a lot of Androids. The whole world of antivirus applications is now fast changing, with increasing types of devices being targeted by viruses, Trojan horses, and similar malware.

It is also good to remember that if your computer is infected with a virus you certainly risk infecting other people’s computers when you inadvertently send infected files to them in your daily life and work.

How Antivirus Software Works

How antivirus software works is that an antivirus program can be programmed to do three types of scans of the hard disk of your personal computer, laptop, Mac or the storage space of your Android.

They are:

  • Background scanning
    • The computer is safeguarded from threats and malware when the antivirus program scans all the files that you have opened, in the background. This type of antivirus software works to offer real-time protection.
  • Full System Scan
    • In cases when you have cleaned and restored an infected computer you need to do a full scan. Also, when you have either installed your antivirus software for the first time, or just updated your antivirus software, then you should perform a full scan. If you already have a background scan scheduled, you do not need a full scan.
  • Virus definitions
    • Virus definitions need to be updated regularly for antivirus software programs as these programs depend on the definitions to identify malware.
    • These definitions contain identifications or signatures for any new viruses newly categorized as malware.
    • The way this antivirus software works is once it recognizes the signature as suspicious it stops the file from executing and quarantines it so it is rendered harmless to the computer.

Other Ways

There are 3 other ways antivirus programs are effective:

  • Behavioral based detection
    • The antivirus software works by detecting malware when it behaves like a malware during execution.
  • Signature based detection
    • This traditional method is where the antivirus programs scans .EXE files against known list of malware and viruses.
  • Heuristic based detection
    • This approach helps the antivirus software program to detect any variant or alteration of an existing malware program. This is in combination with the signature based detection method.


The antivirus software works by detecting any malware signatures in the files of a computer, laptop, Mac, or Android. It then shuts down the execution of this harmful program and quarantines it so it becomes harmless.

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