Antivirus software - the most important properties and functions at a glance


Almost everyone uses you, almost everyone knows your name. But what is actually an anti-virus software (short AV)? : Generally it has to be classified as antivirus program. It is software that attempts to detect, block and, at best, erase known computer viruses, Trojan horses or computer worms. Let's take a look at the central features of this software and its application:

History of anti-virus software

The beginnings of antivirus software programs have not yet been compared to today's complex solution systems. Simply because there were no harmful programs at the beginning of the 80 years. Of course, the history of the computer is inseparably linked to the history of viruses and thus also to later anti-virus programs. At that time, the computer viruses were still limited to self-production and could do no great damage. The evolution of threatening viruses in computing has to do with their increasing complexity. At the end of the 80, general knowledge about malicious programming increased. This has made means for researching their control increasingly inevitable.

For the first time a wider public became aware of the topic in the year 1987. Until now, viruses have been seen as a threat to life, but that changed with Bernd Fix. He is the first human by many sources who took the topic in publicity and could recognize and remove a computer virus. As a hacker and specialist in computer technology, he still functions today as a proven specialist in this field.

The first antivirus software programs

The topic of virus control became increasingly important. In the year 1988, the computer network Bitnet / Earn took on the fight against viruses by designing a mailing list that documented the emergence of viruses. At first, viruses spread only via floppy disks but with the spread of the Internet, the viruses were able to spread faster and more uncontrollably.

Types of antivirus software

There are basically three types of antivirus software:

Manual scanner
Online virus scanner

The real-time scanner is also called an access scanner. It is characterized by the fact that it runs in the background as a system service (example: Windows) or as a daemon (Unix) and scans programs, files or memory. The applications are checked during the read process and during the write process

The manual scanner differs in that it has to be started by the user himself. Typical software systems include Norton Antivirus. If the program finds suspicious files on the computer, there are alerts that indicate vulnerable areas of the computer. As a rule, the user can choose between three different functions in case of virus attack: cleaning, quarantine and deletion of the malicious files.

The online virus scanner in turn are programs that load your antivirus pattern over a network. Most online scanners are based on the so-called outdated software component model ActiveX. There are also some applications based on Java technology.

How does antivirus software work?

The software scanners, which are important for running antivirus software, work signature-based and heuristic to detect errors and malfunctioning components. In the signature-based search, small parts of the code are distributed in a targeted manner by current viruses and Trojans that have already become known. This way, viruses and Trojans can be detected and, ideally, switched off. The heuristic search is more complex. It examines programs that are already running and installed on the affected computer. Suspicious behavior such as the self-call of a program are thereby detected.

Success rate and criticism

Even though anti-virus programs are very useful and often harm the user, not every malicious program can be detected. Experts like Symantec vice-president Bryan Dye believe that these programs have only about 45 percent chance of success. You can not completely replace prudent user behavior. Good measures to protect your own system are, for example, the regular defragmentation of the computer.

Despite its usefulness, anti-virus software is also criticized. This can lead to time-critical application errors due to the delay in scanning the data. Even the permanent scan of databases, especially if they are very large, can lead to problems. Often there are error messages.