Anti-Virus Programs Explained.

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Anti-Virus Programs Explained.

Your AntiVirus Program is at the forefront of your system's defense against infection, and even if you feel that you don't need all the other layers of protection (which you really do) as described on the "Do's and Don'ts of Security Programs" WIKI page, then you should at least have a decent Anti-Virus program.

Anti-Virus programs are designed to always be running on your system with what is called Real Time Protection. This means that it is constantly working in the background looking for changes being made to the system by malicious files and programs.

A good Anti-Virus will protect against Viruses, Worms, Trojans and sometimes Rootkits, but as these infections are becoming more and more sophisticated, you need to have more than just the one layer of protection.

DO NOT install two AntiVirus Programs. They will conflict with each other and leave you with an insecure unstable system.

Worms and Viruses are designed for all intents and purposes to wreak havoc on the system, they are capable of spreading through the system and infecting files by either attaching to the files or corrupting the file so that it is no longer recognized by Windows, they can also spread to other machines on the network and can recreate and protect themselves' from removal.
A "Trojan Horse" is a little different, its main goal is to get on to the machine undetected so it can then connect back to its server to install all types of other malicious programs (Malware).
These can range from "Viruses", "Worms", "Backdoors", "Spyware", "Adware", "Rogues" and "Rootkits".

Rootkits are the protective layer of Malware and their sole intents and purposes are to protect the malware from detection and deletion.

In the past a virus was a virus and a worm was a worm and a Trojan was a Trojan. These days it is just not like that; every infection is now some form of hybrid in some way or another, and more than likely will have some sort of protective Rootkit attached.

Most Anti-Virus Programs will also detect some forms of Adware and Spyware, and most Anti-Virus Programs come bundled with some sort of Anti-Spyware feature. An Anti-Virus program's main job is to detect and remove Viruses, hence the reason you need an Anti-Spyware program installed.

Anti-Virus programs monitor changes to the system in areas and ways that infections are known to access the system; they will then prompt you to take action and these options will more than likely be:

  • Delete malicious file
  • Quarantine malicious file
  • Ignore malicious file

 Unless you are 110% sure that the file is safe, I never recommend that you Ignore a file flagged a malicious.

I only recommend that you delete a detected file if you are sure that it is malicious and you have doubts about the file you were opening, in which case you should not be opening it anyway.

As for the Quarantine option, this is the one I recommend that you do take. This option will put the file that was flagged in a folder of the AntiVirus program normally called the Vault or Chest or something similar where it can do no harm to the system.

Putting a flagged file in Quarantine will give you the chance to research and find out if the file is indeed malicious or if it was a legitimate file flagged as what is called a false positive.
False Positives are files that security programs mistakenly recognize as malicious when in fact they are part of a completely safe program.

Once you have deemed if the file is legitimate or malicious, then, and only then, should you Delete or un-Quarantine the file.

The most common files flagged as false positives are files from other security programs, CD/DVD burning programs like Daemon Tools or Nero, and sometimes in rare cases, even key Windows system files can be flagged as malicious.
That's the reason why you should always Quarantine and not Delete.  If it turns out to be a legitimate Windows file and you delete it, you may render your system unbootable and you could lose everything you have saved to the hard-drive as a reinstall of Windows may be the only option left.

If you Quarantine a file, the file will be stopped from running and will be taken from the system and held in a place that it can do no harm to the system.
If you Delete a file and it turns out to be legit, then you could stop a program from working how it should of you could even kill the whole system.
If you Ignore a file and it is bad, then you will be infected and could either spend weeks trying to clean your system or you could be hacked and become the victim of identity fraud or you could kill your system.

If you are not sure what you should do when you Anti-Virus flags a file, then I suggest you Quarantine the file and seek help from the "Malware Removal Forum", where someone will be along as soon as possible to help you clean you system.

If you would like help in cleaning your system, please read THIS page and then please start a New Topic in the "Malware Removal Forumby clicking the DCFnewpost.png button.

As for what you should be doing with your Anti-Virus Program once it is installed, there are a few main pointers that are true of all Anti-Virus Programs.
Every program is different and each will have its own benefits and features but the main things to remember are:

  • Always keep your AntiVirus up to date.
  • Scan regularly with your AntiVirus. (at least every other day)
  • Scan all files with your AntiVirus before opening them. (normally by right clicking the file and then clicking "Scan With....your Antivirus")
  • And Learn how to use your AntiVirus Program.

Learning how to use your Anti-Virus program is very important and the reason that I decided to write this page. There are far too many to write instructions, (Believe me, I tried.), but there are a lot of machines getting infected due to people not understanding how to protect themselves

I you need any help or advice on your security program then please start a NEW topic in the "Virus & Spyware Discussions" Forum where someone will be more than happy to offer any advice you need and point you in the direction of a GOOD tutorial for your chosen Security Program. Please be aware that although there are some very good tutorials out there, there are also some very bad ones. If in doubt, ask.

NOTE: Remember not to take anything for granted; nothing is 100% secure due to the huge amount of infections floating around in cyberspace. The biggest weapons you have against hacking and infection are knowledge, common sense, and most of all USER CAUTION.

Surf Safely,


Windows Insider MVP 2016 - Present

Microsoft MVP - Consumer Security 2006-2016

Social Media and Community Professional

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Last update:
‎06-05-2010 01:40 AM
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