Anti-malware is designed to protect against malware and malicious software by scanning computer systems to prevent, identify and remove possible malware.
What is malware?
In short, malware is a type of malicious software that is specifically designed to do damage to data or computer systems. The term covers software that is used to disrupt computer systems, collect sensitive information or gain access to private computer systems without the consent of the person who owns the computer or the information. Examples of malware include viruses, spyware, worms, ransomware and Trojan horses.
How anti-malware software works
Anti-malware software can protect systems from malware through the following strategies:
- Signature-based malware detection: This strategy makes use of well-known software components and their digital signatures to identify new malware. These signatures are specifically developed by software vendors to detect specific types of malware. The signatures identify malware that has also been previously identified as malware and mark new software as malware. This strategy is useful for identifying common forms of malware such as keyloggers and adware, which share many of the same characteristics.
- Behavioural malware detection: Behavioural malware detection helps IT security professionals to quickly identify, block and eradicate malware by analysing its behaviour rather than looking at how it looks. It is a strategy designed to replace the signature-based approach. Behavioural malware detection is often supported by algorithms.
- Sandboxing: Sandboxing is a feature that can isolate potentially malicious files in a system. In this way, potentially malicious files are filtered out and removed before they can cause damage to the system. An example of a sandboxing process is when you try to open an attachment in an email. Here, the sandbox will scan the file and only allow it access to a limited set of resources, such as a temporary folder or the Internet. If the file tries to force access to other applications, the sandbox will block it and possibly eliminate it.
Why you need anti-malware
Anti-malware is known for scanning for more than viruses. In fact, anti-malware can act preventively by scanning all incoming data, thus preventing malware from being installed and infecting a computer. Anti-malware can also catch advanced forms of malware and even protect against ransomware attacks.
Specifically, anti-malware can help with the following:
- Warn users against visiting websites known to contain malware,
- Prevent malware from spreading to other computers in a system,
- Provide insight into the number of malware infections and the time it takes to remove them,
- Provide insight into how the malware has damaged the computer or network.
Fortunately, there are many free anti-malware programs that can help you keep your computer malware-free. By running an anti-malware program regularly, you can keep your computer running safely and smoothly. The best programs are those that require the fewest updates while catching the most threats, and they will usually run in the background without slowing down your computer.
The difference between antivirus and anti-malware software
Virus and malware are terms that are often used interchangeably. The difference, however, is that virus is a type of malware, while malware is not necessarily a virus. Although viruses are the most common form of malware, they are also an older and more familiar threat alongside Trojans, keyloggers and worms.
The main difference between viruses and malware, however, is that viruses are capable of replicating themselves, whereas malware cannot replicate itself but is designed to carry out a specific mission or purpose. Malware is thus descriptive of newer and increasingly dangerous threats.
Similarly, antivirus and anti-malware are often used interchangeably. In the past, they were two different types of security software, but today both antivirus and anti-malware have more or less the same functions.
Anti-malware software is therefore a really sensible security measure to use as a preventative measure to protect against malware.
For example, malware can be installed and infect a computer as a consequence of clicking on a malicious link or attachment in a phishing email, which can happen to anyone in an unguarded moment. Anti-malware or antivirus is therefore a good idea for anyone who wants to increase their cyber hygiene.
Emilie Hartmann is a student and copywriter at Moxso, where she is a language nerd and always on the lookout for new and exciting topics to write about. She is currently doing her Master's in English, where she is primarily working in the fields of Creative Writing and Digital Humanities.View all posts by Emilie Hartmann