Antivirus software can protect your computer and other devices from viruses and malware. It typically works by scanning your system for malware, using a threat definitions database that’s updated often. But, while antivirus programs do offer automatic scans, you shouldn’t just load it up and rely on it to completely protect your system without your intervention.
It doesn’t work like that. Antivirus software is a tool that needs to be used properly in order to be more effective. You need to use it regularly to manually scan your devices, and make sure you install any software updates as soon as they become available. You’ll need to adjust your software’s settings, and you should combine antivirus software with other layers of protection, as well as avoiding risky behavior online.
Scan Your Devices Regularly
The more often you perform a full scan of your device, the more often you’re potentially detecting and removing malware. It makes sense to remove malware as soon as possible after it infects your system, before it can do too much damage. It’s also a good idea to remove malicious programs often instead of letting them pile up, as it were. Just like it’s easier to clean your house if you do it a little more often, it’s easier to clean your computer if you do it often, too.
Use your antivirus to perform a full scan of your system at least once a week, or more often if you download things, shop online, or do your banking online. You should perform a quick scan every day or anytime you notice issues with your system.
Install Software Updates as They Become Available
Software updates include fixes for bugs and security patches, but they also contain new threat definitions to help them detect even more types of malware. Hackers are making new malware programs every day, and every day, antivirus program developers are adding information about them to antivirus software updates. Install your software updates as soon as possible so you can protect your system against the largest possible number of threats.
Layer Your Protection
Antivirus alone can’t provide the protection your network and device need. A firewall can keep malicious traffic off your network. You may also need different software programs to check your system for some kinds of malware that your antivirus program may not be capable of detecting, such as spyware. You may need anti-ransomware, anti-spyware and anti-adware programs to remove these kinds of malware.
Adjust Your Software’s Settings
You’ll definitely want to adjust your software’s settings as soon as you’ve got it installed. Settings determine how the software works. They determine how often the software performs an automatic full scan, and how often it performs a quick daily scan. They determine what the software does when it encounters a piece of malware – for example, does it quarantine and remove the malware immediately, or does it wait for your review? You can even exclude specific files and folders from your virus scans.
You also need to make sure that you’re reviewing your antivirus software’s logs. They show what your antivirus software has done – what malware it’s removed or blocked, what errors it encountered, and so on. You may be able to use your antivirus logs to troubleshoot the program if necessary, although most paid antivirus suites from developers like TrendMicro come with troubleshooting and repair assistance.
Stay Safe Online
One of the easiest ways to make your antivirus program more effective is to avoid risky online behaviors that could leave your devices or network vulnerable to malware. Of course, getting infected by malware or ransomware isn’t always your fault – you can catch malware just from navigating to the wrong website.
But you should absolutely make an effort not to do things that can increase your risk of cyber attack. Don’t click on links in emails or download email attachments from people you don’t know (or even, perhaps, from people that you do know). Learn the telltale signs of a phishing email. Avoid downloading pirated materials or cracked software. Be careful when you’re using an unsecured website. Do your banking and shopping on your private, more secure home network instead of using a public one.
Antivirus software can provide very effective protection against malware and viruses, especially if you use it right. Make the most of your antivirus software, to keep your network and devices safe from malicious actors who want to steal your personal information, take control of your smart devices, or break into your bank accounts.