Ultimate Protection Against Malware: Microsoft Might Have a Clue
We’ve posted the guidance how to stay safe online and avoid ransom – and other malwares. But still we feel that we have to get into more details here to explain you some basic principles which back up the safety requirements, i.e. antivirus timely updating. It is of interest to the Windows users in the first place, but the Mac users have faced the same threats recently, though on a lesser scale and might find it useful to have a look at the core of the issue.
It’s not because we’re paid by antivirus tycoons, no. The inherent nature of this software is the answer. Let’s first specify what is malware. Obviously, it’s a malicious software – hence, ‘malware’ – that cripples your files, data and operation system. Some are inoffensive enough: they change your browser start page to reroute you to news aggregators or online stores. It’s annoying but does no great harm to the system.
Others see to steal your credentials, personal, financial info or to provide an access to your computer for further attacks. These are worms, backdoors and trojans, the last called so because they’re disguised as inoffensive software. The malfunction of the system is a side effect of their activity. There are also viruses created to annoy the user. Like Friday’13 that was famous back in 1990s.
The virus used to activate on Fridays, the 13th and blocked the computer with an alert screen. Ransomware like WannaCry and others, are similar to that old virus: they block the access of an end-user to the system with an alert screen. But unlike the Friday the 13th fans the ransomware creators ask for ransom. And there’s more to it than just an annoying pop-up screen: the malware encrypts the files, renaming them during the process and deletes the non-encrypted versions of the user’s files.
So, an antivirus software features two approaches, usually. It watches after the already known threats and analyses the files behavior to calculate the possible threat. How does the virus recognize a virus? You must know that most viruses and trojans are alike and feature the same code patterns. The security experts list them into large libraries, any antivirus should download on a regular basis. The recognizable code patterns are called signatures. It’s like the U.S. most wanted criminals’ database. That’s why we like many prominent security experts do advice regular updates of your antivirus software. Never turn off the automated database or program update! Never!
But spotting the malware by signatures is not effective enough. Thousands of new viruses hit the Web every week. Created by culprits, or unexperienced students, by misanthropes and people with a pervert sense of humor, they’ll never stop emerging. And you’d never have seen them coming, had the antiviruses been unable to predict the malware behavior. Turning to the cops-and-thieves metaphor again, a good cop can tell a criminal by his or her behavior, the way he or she moves, speaks and acts. For example, if a program on your PC tries to connect to a suspicious website, your antivirus will alert you at once or kill the software without asking.
The problem is, that in the computer world there are a lot of false positives. The antivirus can kill your favorite mailing program or a casual game. To avoid it, please turn on the ‘Ask me for actions’ option. Your antivirus should always ask you before it does something to the ‘suspect’. If you don’t recognize the file’s name, google it. Then you’ll be taken either to the manufacturer’s website or to the online viruses database like www.viruslist.com or www.securelist.com
Watching for files behavior is called proactive protection or heuristic analysis. This feature is a must-have for every antivirus nowadays. Check if this option is on in your software. The antivirus scans not only your hard drive(s) but also the internet ports through which the data flows in. It’s called to ‘listen on the port’. Of course, the antivirus has to share the port with other software on your PC, like mailing programs and browsers, or you won’t be able to get an access to the Web. That’s why malwares do sneak in and you should run a full system scan on regular basis.
All antiviruses can be scheduled for full scan weekly, daily or hourly. There’s also a quick scan that takes up less resources of your system while on run. We recommend one full scan and two quick scans a week. You can schedule a full scan on a night time but remember to turn of the sound, if your antivirus features sound alerts.
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