How Antivirus Software Works?
The Working of Antivirus Software:
Ever wondered how antivirus software would dissociate good from bad for killing bad? Indeed most of us do. The question probably faded, because antivirus programs have a reputation for being rocket-science. One cannot defy the complexities involved. However, a little interest may drive your sense of curiosity to knowledge. Let us take the tour.
Antivirus software is a tool to protect your PC from any kind of involuntary. Unlike in 80’s, now the malwares are more deceptive in nature with high potential for penetration. The malwares come in different names and targets, but all against the interest of the PC owner or the user. Understanding the techniques used in the making of these malwares is the basis for tackling them. The strategies to nail the evolving hacking methods have changed from time to time. However the current strategy retains the old techniques for their relevance till date and days to come.
Antivirus software do not have a mind of their own to decide if a file that attempts to run an executable file in the system is genuine or not. They include multiple layers of algorithms and probability maps to nail the origin of contamination and destroy it. One of the oldest and mostly followed methods is ‘Dictionary method’.
In antivirus software there is an inbuilt dictionary that keeps growing with the signatures of the malware code that is gathered from multiple sources (sometimes shared by users). Antivirus program would conduct a check on the system to find any matches with this dictionary. In case of any such discoveries, it would destroy the malicious code preventing it from further replicating.
Another much sophisticated way of locating the virus is through ‘Heuristic Detection’. Here, unlike the traditional ‘Dictionary method’, the antivirus observes the behavior of a program by running it in a sandbox for any malicious result. In case of any suspicion, the file is flagged and the user is alerted or sometimes destroyed upright.
Real-time detection of the virus is one of the most common features of all antivirus software programs which is very crucial too. With its auto-run feature, the antivirus program always keeps the guard on to prevent virus from entering through storage, web, disk drives or any other way.
Where the Radar fails…
Though there are many newer strategies emerging in the market for PC security, there are inevitable loopholes that the miscreants take good advantage from. There is no way to predict all possible hacking code. Once they infect the system, in spite of all efforts done by antivirus software to isolate and remove the virus, the damage might be irreversible.
In current times malwares are written with “oligomorphic”, “polymorphic” and more recently, “metamorphic” virus codes, with more immunity for penetration from antivirus software. They disguise themselves to not match with the signature in the dictionary. There are few occurrences where the antivirus mistook the native system files to be infectious and deleted them that rendered the operating system unable to run.
With many challenges in hand and more to come yet, antivirus software has definitely evolved and is in line with the hacking monsters. Companies hire hackers to make the chances for tackling these issues better. However, it is advisable for the user to be cautious not to be vulnerable for these threats and practice good browsing habits to avoid unpleasant and potentially risky exposure.