Monday, December 2, 2013

Yes, You need that Anti-Virus

So your computer has been running the same antivirus for the last couple of years, and you now feel like you have to change it? Well, you don’t to change just for the sake of changing. Just because you saw a different antivirus application on your office neighbors’ PC doesn’t mean you join the bandwagon.

You need to have a sound reason for doing so. The misconception most people have with antivirus programs is thinking that one antivirus will have their PCs safe and secure from potential virus attacks.

A computer virus, for the uninitiated, basically refers to a malicious software program that is designed to replicate itself by copying itself into the other programs installed in a computer, often adversely affecting the computer’s performance. The replication could be on the computer itself, or may also spread across other PCs on the network.

The word virus may also collectively be used to refer to all forms of malware, worms or Trojans. The bottom line is that most/all of these malicious applications have a hugely negative impact on the computer’s performance. Viruses can infect desktop computers, laptops and network servers and pose one of the most serious Internet security risks.

Sources of Viruses
Most viruses come from email, web sites, downloaded files and loadable media, such flash disks, floppy disks, CD-ROMs and DVDs. The viruses replicate themselves onto the machine when a user either copies/executes the infected files from such media to their PCs, or downloads infected internet files without scanning on the contents.

The commonest source is through spam e-mails that have been sent to unsuspecting readers. Other potential sources are through picture based pages-such as pornographic websites, as well as most sites that have downloadable music and video content.  Beware of sites that offer free music/video content streaming, lest you stand a high risk of getting such malware. The effects of a viral infection on a PC can be pretty unpleasant and may include some/all of the following:
  • Disabled access to certain computer programs and files. Programs like Microsoft office suit (Ms Office, Excel and Access) usually get corrupted, while certain operating system applications like system restore tend to get disabled, making it difficult to restore an already messed up system!
  • Addition, modification or deletion of files or corrupting of the hard disk. Certain types of malware (such as worm) eat up storage space and slow down the computer, but won't alter or delete any files.
  • Using unsigned-out E-mail addresses to send virus-infected emails to unintended recipients, clients or other devices (if the PC is on the network).
  • Sending of unsolicited, bulk email (spam) to those in one’s mail address books and other users if the computer has an internet connection.
Are Antiviruses the Way Forward?
The answer is Yes and No. Yes, because installing the right antivirus will help you get rid of most malware, and No because having an antivirus that is not properly configured can have adverse effects on the computer’s overall performance. Avoid installing more than once strong antivirus on the same PC as it would compromise your machine’s general performance.

Applications like Kaspersky, Symantec and McAfee are some of the most effective antiviruses, but they are also quite resource intensive. Such applications may be co-installed with much lighter malware protection utilities, such as the USB protection utility or even Avira.

On the other hand, do not overly rely on one antivirus as it may not be able to detect certain viruses/malware. You should regularly update your antivirus to keep abreast with ever changing virus world-various new viruses and Trojans are always being built each day-as this would enable you to detect and clean them once they attack your machine. A periodic complete scan (such as a monthly scan schedule) with different updated antivirus applications would also strongly support your cause. Stay blessed!

-Dan B. Atuhaire

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