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Computers are all around us in our lives, from assisting us play and work, to monitoring hospital patients as well as controlling crucial manufacturing processes. However, this ease of use comes with an issue, as more computers are a bigger opportunity for malicious coders.

Antivirus protection scans programs and files to detect threats that could be present. It serves as a real-time defense against cyberattacks. It can identify infected files or applications by their distinctive signature – a couple of lines of assembly code that alter the stack pointer, for example – and compares them against an existing database of malware. If the program matches the antivirus software, it stops it from running or shifts it to quarantine so it can be thoroughly scanned and analyzed.

Unfortunately, malicious software developers are always creating new programs using more subtle and different signatures, so antivirus programs require constant updating of their databases. The good news is that once a virus is discovered and added to the detection database it becomes harder for hackers to make use of that similar signature against other machines.

To that end, the most trustworthy antivirus programs come with a number of additional features that help protect against a broader range of malware threats. They include:

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