Old-school anti-virus is no longer the best protection

by | Sep/28/2011

Anti-virus sounds like a great feature, right? But anti-virus can be ineffective in fighting newer threats.

For years, anti-virus tools attempted to detect viruses by looking for known “signatures.” Think of the “signatures” as a thumbprint of a virus. The anti-virus tools look for those thumbprints and the anti-virus vendors constantly update “signature” files in an effort to keep up with the thumbprints of all new viruses.

These days, some viruses can “morph” at regular intervals—keeping their same dangerous functionality and avoiding the signature matching. An analogy would be someone being able to change their thumbprint one or more times each day.

Over the years anti-virus has evolved to include new ways to stop viruses. One way is to watch for dangerous behavior. The problem here is for the anti-virus tool to be able to discern if the dangerous behavior is being performed by a legitimate process or a virus.

Anti-virus vendors are constantly playing the “cat and mouse” game of keeping up with new virus strategies. This is one more reason to always stay current with the latest anti-virus offerings available.

Please post your comments on this blog.


  1. Tim


    You mentioned the relative ineffectiveness of anti-virus as a stand alone protection. I imagine most of us have experience this with at least one computer. You can’t really run multiple anti-virus programs, but one won’t catch all the new virus’s by itself. What other methods do you suggest to supplement the standalone anti-virus?

    Thank you,

    Tim VP

    • Mike Foster

      Hi Tim,

      Probably the most important thing you can do to supplement anti-virus tools is to ensure your application updates are current. This includes Microsoft Office, your Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java, all browsers such as IE and Firefox, and all other applications are up to date. There are other tools that you may even purchase as services such as effective anti-spam and web filtering tools. Additionally, business networks benefit from specific user authentication controls.

      Thank you for your question!

  2. Phil James

    Always renew your antivirus software. However you can run it for 30 days but after 30 days the antivirus will not finding other viruses to destroy it. For more information, please see your Antivirus software help center


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