Why should you use security software?


How often do you use the internet? You'll be amazed at the answer. From checking your email to scrolling through your social media profile, you probably spend many hours a day in the online world. And you're not alone! According to most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 12 and a half million internet subscribers in Australia at the end of December 20141. 

But with the good comes the bad - and this means cyber criminals. One wrong click can infect your computer with malware, opening the door to identity theft, fraud and big financial losses. Luckily, anti-virus software is here to save the day. So why should every internet user have this defence on their device? Let's take a look. 

How does anti-virus software work?

Basically, anti-virus software is a programme designed to identify, eliminate and protect against viruses and other forms of criminal software, such as spyware, Trojans and worms. While they may come in many shapes and forms, anti-virus packages scan the various files or memory on your device for any sign of malicious activity.

They typically look out for patterns that might indicate the presence of a hacker. For instance, many programmes use a signature-based detection, which scans the files and compares the different codes against its database of known viruses. If any code matches a virus identified in its dictionary, it will do one of two things: Delete the file completely, or quarantine it so other programmes on your computer can't access it. 

Other programmes are more like a watchdog. Instead of scanning every nook and cranny, they keep an eye on overall behaviour of your computer. If they find something suspicious, a red flag is raised and you'll usually see a pop up window, asking what you want to do. Or the anti-virus software will run a suspicious programme in a contained environment, alerting you if the file isn't safe to open or use. 

Why is updating anti-virus software so important?

With so many people using the internet every second of every day, there are a multitude of hackers and scammers attempting to steal your undisclosed information. They develop new pieces of malware all the time, to infect the devices of unsuspecting victims. In fact, there is no real way to count how many viruses there are - they're multiplying all the time!

But why is this? As anti-virus software becomes more advanced, criminals are creating new and more devious ways of breaking into your device. This might mean disguising the programme in a trusted file format, or simply coming up with new codes to avoid detection. Luckily, companies are always looking for new and improved ways to protect you and your data.

Security patches and updated virus definitions emerge all the time. To combat fresh threats, your internet security software needs to download a new list of things it should be scanning for - and it can only do this with your permission. It's a good idea to set up automatic updates to make sure you have the most recent information. Without it, a virus could easily slip through the cracks. 

What programme do I choose?

There is a huge array of anti-virus software out there, and you'd be forgiven for getting a bit confused by the variety. In fact, many of the programmes operate in a similar way, so how can you decide which are best? Check out the reputation of the vendor and recommendations, as well as the specific list of features and price. Just remember: Any software is better than none at all! 

On top of your security programme, Identity Watch can offer you peace of mind. For about the price of a cup of coffee ($3.99 or $47.88 for an annual subscription) a month, Identity Watch can keep a look out for your details in online places where crooks illegally trade personal data. If your information is found Identity Watch will alert you and provide you with information on proposed action of what to do next.

Internet Activity, Australia, December 2014. Australian Bureau of Statistics. April 2015. 

Tags: Security