While we continue to explore and journey the path to becoming the most hard target we can, we need to consider what we can do to make our antivirus software the most effective possible. This is known as optimizing your antivirus software. Optimizing antivirus Software is a Cyber Security Basic that you can D.I.Y. We presented a list of Cyber Security basics in a previous article entitled D.I.Y. – Cyber Security Basics: things you can to do today, to enhance your cyber security posture.
What is Antivirus Software (AV)?
Let’s think of antivirus software as the white blood cells of your computer. Just like in your body, these “cells” identify and attack unwanted viruses. Additionally, once the antivirus software (AV) has identified these malicious files, it removes and quarantines them so they cannot infect the system further. AV is updated by the software provider using something called ‘definitions. These ‘definitions’ are made up of a list of known malicious files to the AV community. When a new piece of malware is identified, it’s hash, or unique DNA, is added to the list of ‘definitions’ and sent to the end users (you) to update your protection on your computer. There are many AV software options to choose from, some free and some paid. The most important things you need to have are the following: Real Time Protection (a constant scanning of your system vs only scanning when clicked on demand), and an Automatic Update (an automatic download of the newest/latest definitions when they becomes available).
Pro(Active) tip # 2: Optimizing Antivirus Software
In order to make sure that antivirus software is working effectively for our systems, we need to ask ourselves two important questions:
- Is the antivirus software continuously running while operating the system?
- When was the last time it was updated on the system?
If either answer to the above questions is no, then you are not optimizing the effectiveness of your antivirus software!
How to Optimize Antivirus Software
Real time protection for antivirus software needs to always be turned on. This is a very simple thing to do but easily forgotten. For example, ‘Microsoft Security Essentials’ calls this feature “Real-time protection”. Simply go into settings, select real-time protection and ensure that it is turned on. This feature should automatically be turned on upon initial set up of antivirus software, however follow up is the key. Make sure it is on. You wouldn’t pay for a home security system and not actually arm the alarm in your home would you?
In addition to making sure that the real time protection is turned on to optimize the antivirus software, make sure that you continue to update your antivirus software regularly. How can you be sure that you have the most up to date definitions? You can do this by going into the settings of the antivirus software and simply looking at the date and time it was last updated and compare it to when the newest definition was added by said antivirus software. As a best practice, you can easily go in and manually update it daily at the same time so you don’t forget, even when it is automatically scheduled to do so. I know I personally like to ensure that this is done as soon as a new definition is released to ensure total protection!
Together we are working to make you the hardest target possible, and this path will continue with optimizing antivirus software. Continue to follow me each week as I uncover a new PRO (active) tip that you can implement easily on your own!