Understanding Antivirus Software: A Beginner’s Guide to PC Security

As our lives become increasingly digital, device security and information protection are more important than ever. Security software such as antivirus programs plays a crucial role in keeping your computers, phones, and tablets safe from various digital threats including viruses, malware, and phishing attempts. For the best antivirus software in 2024, check out PCWorld’s roundup of top antivirus programs.

So, what is a computer virus? Essentially, it is a program that gets installed on your computer and spreads to other computers, much like a biological virus. Computer viruses can cause a range of malicious activities, including data theft, system damage, and unauthorized control. Antivirus software is designed to detect, isolate, and remove these threats, preventing them from infecting your system.

Firewalls, on the other hand, scan traffic in and out of your network and act as an additional layer of protection. Some antivirus software includes firewall functions to complement their scanning capabilities. If you own a Windows desktop or laptop, having an antivirus program is essential, and Windows Security provides a basic level of protection.

Smartphones and many other internet-connected devices are also susceptible to viruses and malware, but built-in security features such as pre-approved app stores and side-loading restrictions provide a basic level of protection. For extra protection, dedicated antivirus software is available. Ultimately, the level of protection required depends on the device and how it accesses content and apps.