Is Your Security Software Even Working? Here's How to Check

How long ago did you install your antivirus or security suite? How many times have you looked at it since then? Security products are designed for users who plan to set them and forget them, but for best results you should check in on them from time to time.

Here are a dozen simple steps you can take to make sure you get the most out of your security systems.

In the early days of computer viruses, antivirus programs simply scanned files for signature patterns of known threats. These days, most malware coders make their code polymorphic, not detectable by simple pattern-matching. And modern antivirus utilities use behavior-based detection systems, so they can stop malware they’ve never seen before. That said, simple malware signatures and behavioral detection patterns both need frequent updates, to keep up with evolving malware. Is your antivirus up to date? Open it up and have a look. Do you see a message about needing to update the databases? Even if you don’t, poke around to find the command that runs an on-demand check for updates. It couldn’t hurt!

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