Did You Know Antivirus Software Cannot Detect and Remove New Viruses?

Did You Know Antivirus Software Cannot Detect and Remove New Viruses?

Do you know that antivirus software cannot detect and remove new computer viruses until the makers of the antivirus software get a hold of the new viruses and generate signatures for them? A virus signature is used by an antivirus software to identify a virus or a family of viruses. It is similar to scientists finding a cure for a biological virus. Some persons believe that because they have an antivirus software installed on their computers they are fully protected from viruses.

If a new computer virus, unknown to your anti-virus software, starts spreading on the internet and you are unlucky enough to infect your computer with this new virus, your antivirus software will not be able to identify and protect you against it. This new virus can infect millions of computers around the world and cause billions of dollars of damages before it is detected by any of the antivirus software makers. So, it is important for the antivirus software makers to monitor the internet closely and frequently to detect any new threats as quickly as possible.

After a virus is found, a signature is created and tested, which is then used to identify the virus or any family of that virus. The antivirus software makers will then make the new virus signature available for download for your antivirus software via the internet. Once your antivirus software downloads this new signature it will be able to detect and remove that new virus. This is why it is important that your antivirus software updates itself frequently via the internet.

The virus detection method that I have mentioned above is called the “Dictionary Approach” and is the most popular and effective way of detecting known computer viruses. There is another method called “Heuristic Analysis” which can be used to detect new unknown computer viruses but is not 100% accurate. It may generate false alarms or false positives because its detection is based on behavioral patterns, various decision rules or weighing methods, therefore, it will not detect all new unknown viruses.

Having an antivirus software installed on your computer doesn’t mean that you should browse the internet recklessly. You should still exercise caution when downloading files from the internet and opening email attachments. Ensure that you are downloading files from trusted sources, browsing trusted websites and opening only expected email attachments.

Antivirus software is still very important because they protect you from the thousands of viruses and malicious programs that have already been discovered. But, do not think that you are 100% safe with one installed on your computer.

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  • December 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM by an anonymous user from: Arvika, Varmland County, Sweden

    Your post about antivirus is not entirely correct. Herustic and behavioral analysis of zero-day treaths is indeed a key element in ALL antivirus vendors today, though not all score top points in AV tests. One who does is Bitdefender, who btw on your own site have an advertisement banner with the following content when clicking on it:

    "Zero-day or unknown malware routinely eludes traditional AV/antimalware defenses. These cyber-attacks disrupt businesses, costing them time and money or compromising sensitive data.

    By their very nature, AV signatures cannot stop unknown threats. New and established security vendors claim their ‘next-generation’ solutions use signature-less detection based on revolutionary technologies like machine learning to catch zero-days. Despite the alluring stories and buzzwords, the efficiency of these solutions is anecdotal and rarely backed by trustworthy independent sources.

    Unlike alternative solutions, Bitdefender consistently proves the efficiency of its signature-less technologies in the most important independent tests, blocking 99% of zero-day threats in the AV-Comparatives heuristic/behavioral trials. Besides achieving the best detection rates against zero-day threats, Bitdefender also routinely scores the lowest number of false positives.

    Bitdefender’s new anti-exploit protection is designed to tackle evasive exploits, to help reduce the APT attack surface and minimize the risk of being targeted. The technology works by zooming in on potentially vulnerable software and running a structural analysis during key execution points. If an anomaly is detected, admins can choose to automatically block the execution or to simply be notified. With this additional feature, advanced attacks are stopped before the payload actually reaches the infrastructure, thus greatly increasing the costs of attacks for targeted threat actors"

    With such antivirus vendor a second on-demand AV like Malewarebytes a very good firewall browser ad-ons as Bitdefender TrafficLight and Virus Total online scan tool, you are very well protected to surf the web.

  • April 6, 2013 at 9:18 PM by an anonymous user from: Kingston, Jamaica

    You are right. I do browse the internet recklessly sometimes because I know I have a good antivirus. I didn't know that they couldn't detect new viruses without creating a signature. Thanks for the information.

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Did You Know Antivirus Software Cannot Detect and Remove New Viruses?