How Does Antivirus Software Identify Potential Viruses?

When you are choosing an antivirus software for your business or home it is important to look at more than just a program’s detection rate in controlled tests. You must also be sure it is able to recognize new malware and viruses. Researchers are constantly trying to find ways to defeat antivirus software. They create viruses that block them, evade detection methods, or get around the anti-virus software itself.

One of the initial types of antivirus programs was to compare files received by devices to their database of malware that they have identified. This kind of signature detection works for malware that is older. However, virus creators are able to develop new signatures at any time for new malware types.

Modern antivirus programs employ the heuristic method to identify potential threats. Instead of focusing on exact matches, heuristics look at tendencies in incoming software and files to determine whether they are similar to known malware. This technique has been augmented with a method known as behavior-based detection, which analyzes the way a file or program acts in order to determine if it is malicious.

Some viruses try to defeat antivirus software by hiding, blocking access to the antivirus program’s updates system, or destroying code or library files needed for a virus scanner to work. Some viruses are more sophisticated and will directly alter or disable elements of the antivirus software. These viruses are becoming more prevalent and include features like the worm component, which propagates from one computer another.

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