With so many stories of hackers and virus outbreaks, it’s understandable why some PC users are skeptical about anti-virus software programs. Do they really work? If so, which ones offer the best protection? Here are some tips to help you decide if anti-virus software can really offer the protection you need.

How Does Anti-Virus Software Work?

The good news is that anti-virus software really does work — but in order to illustrate this, it helps to first explain exactly what it does.

Computer viruses are created through codes or programs that are designed to do all kinds of malicious activity — from stealing passwords and personal information to hijacking websites. You can pick up a virus merely by opening an email link or visiting an infected website.

Anti-virus software works by scanning your system for virus signatures. After detecting a signature, an anti-virus program will isolate it so that it won’t affect your system. In addition, anti-virus software warns you if a website or email has been infected. This not only protects your computer from damage; it also protects your sensitive information and lessens your risks of identity theft. By paying attention to these alerts, you can avoid walking into a computer virus trap before it’s too late.

Choosing Anti-Virus Software

When choosing anti-virus software, look for a reputable, well-known company with a proven track record. Be wary of an unknown brand; it may actually be a malicious malware program that’s posing as an anti-virus product. It also helps to comparison shop and read reviews so that you can make an educated, informed decision.

Being Proactive

Having anti-virus software is pivotal to your computer’s security — but it’s also important for you to be proactive as well. Here are some ways you can optimize the effectiveness of your Internet security software.

  • Run system checks and updates regularly. Thousands of new viruses infect the Internet every day, so make sure to continually update your anti-virus program so it can detect these viruses. Also, be sure to run system scans as often as your program recommends.
  • Pay attention to alerts. If you get a message that a website or email is infected, don’t visit it.
  • Be careful about downloads. If a file comes from a site that doesn’t seem secure or has a history of vulnerability issues, don’t download it.
  • Anti-virus software isn’t just a convenience — it’s an absolute necessary for any PC user. Fortunately, by doing a bit of homework and staying proactive when it comes to security, you can find anti-virus software that will keep your computer — and your personal information — safe from malicious attacks.
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