The first documented virus appeared in 1971. It was known as The Creeper and it took advantage of printer software to self-duplicate on the early TENEX operating system. Since then, the idea of a self-duplicating program has fascinated – and haunted – computer users. While modern antivirus software didn’t really appear until almost twenty years later, it did immediately become a quintessential element of the computer environment.

However, this has also meant that many people take antivirus software for granted, treating it as a set it and forget it program. Like other forms of technology, antiviruses need to be updated. Just in case it’s been a while since the antivirus has been updated, here’s a little insight on why it’s important to always keep this software up to date.

Why Update an Antivirus?

Like their biological counterpart, computer viruses adapt to their environments. To put that more correctly, virus creators are constantly evolving their programs to get around the latest security innovations. There are thousands of new viruses developed each day. The internet is something of a wild west when it comes to malware.

To keep up with this environment, antivirus software developers are constantly rolling out updates. Many companies, such as Avast and Kaspersky, maintain 24/7 “virus labs” to identify new threats then produce code which makes their software more effective at catching these threats in the future.

To counter this, virus makers will attempt to churn out more innovative and complex malware programs. The result is a perpetual cycle of evolution spinning across the web at a breakneck speed.

In turn, most antivirus software will update automatically. However, those updates have the tendency to slow down computers, force system restarts, and collapse if the internet connection falters. All of that can get pretty irratating. Users might be tempted to turn them off entirely, but doing that means an antivirus is quickly dated and a computer may fall prey to malware within hours.

The importance of Windows Updates

Windows updates used to be pretty obnoxious. They would lock down a computer entirely, sometimes for over an hour – with only fifteen minutes warning and no way to click out of the dreaded black popup box. Many people dealt with this by disabling automatic updates rather than risk losing computer access at an inopportune moment.

However, Windows updates have importance from a security standpoint. Many of these general software patches and fixes are preventative, fixing holes that developers spot before criminals do. Due in big part to this, Windows uses a schedule pattern known as the Patch Tuesday schedule for its regular security patch releases. These patches increase security and refresh malware databases to make sure that built-in defense programs are able to spot the latest malware.

Haven’t updated Windows in a while? Now’s a good time to set aside some time to do so.

Signs a Computer Has Malware

There are a whole host of signs which a computer may exhibit when it’s been infected with malware. These include:

  • The computer runs slower than usual and takes longer to load.
  • Random ads appear in unusual locations, such as on the desktop.
  • Pop up boxes appear warning of a virus or displaying unusual error messages.
  • Random web pages open in new tabs which lead to advertisement sites.
  • The computer
  • Unfamiliar icons, toolbars or files appear on the computer.
  • CPU or internet traffic spikes.
  • Suspicious hardware activity.
  • Storage space is suddenly lacking.
  • Contacts complain about receiving
  • Settings change such as browser home page, sounds, settings, colors, etc.

The Value of Scanning Often

Antivirus software scans in real-time, making it generally unnecessary to perform manual scans. However, there are still instances where it’s a good idea to scan often. Some situations might include:

  • Computers which experience high-traffic use, such as those at public libraries or shared office space.
  • Environments and industries with a high occurrence of cyber-attacks.
  • Following containment of malware or a virus on a machine in the network.
  • When there’s a suspicion dormant malware might be present.
  • When multiple symptoms listed above are being experienced.

Remember to only ever run one antivirus at a time because these programs may interfere with one another. However, it doesn’t hurt to use multiple programs in succession.

Get the Latest Antivirus Software with DME

Has it been a while since the antivirus software on a computer or network was last updated or assessed? It’s time to take a look at it. Outdated antivirus software is dangerous because it creates an illusion of safety without providing any protection. With thousands of new viruses popping up daily all aimed at stealing data and private information, businesses and organizations need properly functioning antivirus protection to stay safe.

Don’t be a part of the 79% of businesses which discover malware on their company computers. Contact DME today to learn about the latest antivirus software for your organization.