What Is Antivirus Software and Why Is It Important?

A recent study revealed an alarming fact: Computers with internet connections are attacked by hackers every 39 seconds. That’s every online computer, including yours. 

When most people think of a “hacker,” have this image of a socially awkward computer nerd in a hoody hunched over a terminal going after specific targets that wronged him in the past. The truth is that hackers are not all that sophisticated, and most are simply equal opportunity thieves and anarchists.

It may all seem so unreal and you may feel like it can’t or won’t happen to you. However, the threat of viruses is real, and an attack can happen to you. In fact, if you are not taking precautions to protect your computer against attacks, it is a matter of time before you’re a victim of cybercrime.

Why are hackers trying to break into your computer? What is antivirus software, and can it protect you from cybercriminals? Read on for the answers.

What Is Antivirus Software?

Computer viruses are much the same as the types of viruses that cause disease in the body. Viruses invade your computer, replicate themselves, and infect other systems on the same network.

Computer viruses are any malicious code designed to disrupt the normal operations of computers on a network, for personal or political gain. Most viruses are somewhat harmless, whereas others can be extremely dangerous.

Antivirus software is software installed on a PC or network that constantly scans data traffic coming in and out of the system for malicious code. Antivirus software is armed with thousands of known “various definitions,” which serve as a filter to keep viruses out of the system.

Mac vs IBM Based Systems

Generally speaking, Mac systems are less vulnerable to viruses because of Apple’s sandboxing policy for better operating system security. macOS is very strict on permissions and runs every program separate from others on the system, which makes it much more difficult to infect.

However, a better immune system doesn’t mean your Mac device won’t “get sick” with a Mac virus. Most successful attacks on Mac systems and UNIX servers are social engineering attacks in which the user is tricked into installing the virus themselves. Read this article for more info about viruses that target macOS systems.

Types of Threats

Viruses come in many forms, but they are all up to no good. Antivirus software and services are in a constant battle of wits with cybercriminals. New viruses can hide in legitimate software undetected until they are discovered and added to the threat list.

With an estimated 6,000 viruses are programmed and released into cyberspace every month, security software has its work cut out for it. The intended use and method of attack determines the virus’s classification. We will cover a few of the most common types of viruses next.


Spyware is a type of virus designed to collect data as it is saved to a network’s servers. A common spyware program called a “keylogger” could be installed on a system without the user knowing it is there.

The spyware collects all command data inputted by the user. As you can imagine, usernames and passwords for accounts accessed on that computer are collected by the spyware and stored on the system or even uploaded directly to the hacker. Antispyware software is a form of antivirus software that specifically looks out for this type of virus.

Phishing Attacks

Computer security by advanced antivirus and firewall software is difficult to crack, but the weak spot in cybersecurity is the human factor. No matter how up-to-date and sophisticated your security software is, it still has to listen to its master – the user.

In a phishing attack, hackers disguise their software inside links within innocent-looking emails seemingly from a source you trust. Click here. Go ahead, you can trust me – wink. The hackers send out these emails like bait for phish.

One way into a system is the “front door” that legitimate users on the network use to login to the network. Basically what phishing attacks do is to knock on everyone’s door that has access to the targeted network and attempt to fool them into handing over the keys to the door.

Data Breaches

Information is money, and hackers know this. Hackers covet personal information that they can use to impersonate someone online or even in person for purposes of fraud. This is called identity theft, and it is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world.

Any business that has customers’ or employees’ personal information on their network is a potential target for cybercriminals. Once a hacker has gained access to a network’s protected servers, they perform what’s called a “data dump.”

The hacker sends a request to the server to transfer over whatever data they are looking for. With a few lines of code, a hacker could potentially steal thousands or even millions of user’s personal information and even their financial data like credit card numbers.

Denial of Service Attack (DoS)

Some hackers just want to see the world (wide web) burn. A DoS attack aims to temporarily shut down a network. A successful DoS attack overloads the network with data until it shuts down, essentially locking all users out of the system.

This is a popular attack for hacktivists seeking to make a political statement by shutting down the network of a company or organization that the hacktivist group is targeting.

The infamous hacktivist group  “Anonymous” has organized hundreds of attacks on various political targets, including 8 large scale DoS attacks on corporate networks that caused weeks of chaos for their victims.

Stay Safe and Secure

You can’t put a price on peace of mind. Protect your computer to protect yourself and your business. Now that we have answered the question – “What is antivirus software?” and you know the risks to your business cyber threats pose, it is time to take action.

Stay on top of the ever-changing and evolving online security threats with industry-leading antivirus software, and practice safe and best practices to guard against the constant threat of bad code with bad intentions.

Check out our blog for more articles geared towards helping your business thrive.

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