Living with the internet: Keeping it safe
Living with the internet: Keeping it safe

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Living with the internet: Keeping it safe

3.3 Antivirus software

In conjunction with these patches, you should also install antivirus software. This is because patches and updates are not always issued quickly enough to protect your system from new viral attacks. In addition, patches only stop the types of malware that exploit errors in the program code.

Antivirus software is updated as new malware is found, so it can offer a higher level of protection than just relying on manufacturers' updates. Antivirus software is specifically designed to catch a very high percentage of the malware being written in the world today.

One of the main drawbacks of antivirus software is that it is reactive rather than proactive. This means that the software can only detect malware that has already been spread and that it knows about, and requires regular updates to detect new malware or variations to existing malware.

There are many antivirus packages available and you will have to make your own choice as to what is suitable for your computer. Searching the Internet can increase your choice, and also offer savings. You may find software that can be used free of charge for home use.

  • Do find out what antivirus software you have.

    Hint: If you have antivirus software installed on your computer you should be able to find it listed via the Start > Programs menu. If it is active you will find it as a small icon on your task bar at the bottom of the screen.

  • Do find out whether your software is free or licensed.

    If it requires a licence, have you paid the fee?

    Even if you have your software set to 'automatically update', it will fail to obtain the updates if you have not paid the licence fee.

    Hint: If you have antivirus software installed on your computer you should be able to find it listed via the Start > Programs menu. If it is active you will find it as a small icon on your task bar at the bottom of the screen.

  • Do find out when you last updated your software.

    I normally update once a day, but if you are unable to do this DO NOT leave it longer than a week. You should also update as soon as possible when you receive reliable information (normally from your antivirus vendor) that a new virus has been detected.

    If you have not updated today, find the option to update your software and update it now.

  • Do find out about the latest new virus reported by your antivirus company.

    To do this, locate the Internet address of your antivirus software and go online to view their home page. Normally you will see a box or area that shows the last few viruses added.

You might like to visit the websites of two well-known antivirus vendors:

Sophos

Kaspersky

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