Computers are ubiquitous throughout our lives, from helping us play and work to monitoring patients in hospitals and regulating critical manufacturing processes. However, this convenience comes with a downside, as more computer-oriented devices can be a opportunity for malicious coders.

Antivirus protection scans files and programs to detect potential threats and acts as a real-time defense against cyber-attacks. It identifies infected files and programs by their signature – a couple of lines of assembly code that alter the stack pointer, for example – and compares them to a database of known malware. If the program matches the antivirus software, it stops it from running and moves it to quarantine so that it can be thoroughly scanned and analyzed.

Unfortunately, malicious software creators continually create new programs that have subtler and different telltale signatures. Antivirus software must be updated their databases. The good thing is that once a virus is recognized and added to the detection database, it becomes more difficult for hackers to use the signature against other machines.

This is why the majority of trusted antivirus programs include a number of additional features to help guard against a greater variety of malware threats. These include: