Hacking has evolved into a billion-dollar growth business, making hackers relentless in their pursuit to exploit your data. And while antivirus programs can stop hackers, it is important to note that, much like the use of vaccines against biological viruses, no antivirus (AV) software is 100% foolproof. Nevertheless, antivirus software is highly effective at reducing your chances of becoming the next victim of a cyber attack. In fact, antivirus programs are able to effectively dispatch with most digital attacks on computers.
Antivirus software works by immunizing your computer against unauthorized software or coding that can threaten your operating system and data, and the better your antivirus software, the more secure your data. However, not all antivirus software is created equally. The more powerful antivirus packages detect threats in real-time and protect against existing and zero-day threats as well as malware, spyware, ransomware and more. Also, in order to ensure that your antivirus program can stop hackers, it must be updated regularly. Some of the more advanced AV software provide automatic updates.
When the antivirus software scans your files and emails, it is looking for viruses and it will delete or quarantine anything that looks like a threat. Known cyber threats can be identified by the AV program because it checks all the files and programs on your computer against a database of known threats. Zero-day threats, or threats that have never been encountered before, on the other hand, are identified using behavior-based detection techniques. This type of detection scans your computer for deviations from the norm and is able to determine whether those deviations represent a threat. In other words, it detects when behavior goes outside an acceptable range. For example, an AV would look at the behavior of a program and if it noticed the program trying to access certain files or registry entry that it wouldn’t normally try to access, the AV will flag the program as a cybersecurity threat.
Antivirus software is indeed the best way there is to protect yourself from hackers, but it is not the only way, and most cybersecurity experts recommend a multi-layer approach to protect your data. A multi-layered approach includes the following:
- A firewall for preventing unauthorized access to or from a network
- Encryption capabilities so that even if hackers can access your data, it is encrypted rendering it useless to them
- Automatic updates and patches of all your cybersecurity software
- A password manager to generate and keep track of long, complicated passwords, which provide greater security from hackers
- Data loss prevention software (DLP), which can detect when sensitive data such as bank information is leaving your system and going out over the Internet.