How Much Does Anti-Virus Protect You From Computer Security Threats?

    By Mitz Pantic | Small Business

    Anti-virus software helps protect you from computer security threats, but even if you have anti-virus software, you can still get computer viruses. So how useful really is anti-virus software?

    Anti-Virus Software Similar To Human Immune System

    Your body is exposed to dozens of viruses and thousands of bacteria (or more) a day, but you probably only get sick once in a while. Why? Because your immune system fights off viruses and bad bacteria before they become a problem for you.

    But every once in a while you do get sick. Does that mean your immune system is broken? It could, but usually it just means that a virus or bacteria attacked your body in a way your body wasn’t prepared for. It could be a new virus or it could be that you got a huge dose of bacteria (like from a puncture wound).

    It both cases, there was little your body could to prevent the illness. Your body can’t know how to fight new things until it sees them for the first time, nor can it justify the huge metabolic effort required to be ready for massive doses of things it knows are dangerous.

    How Anti-Virus Is Like The Immune System For Computer Security Threats

    Anti-virus software has the same problem dealing with computer viruses as the human immune system has dealing with biological viruses: it can’t know how to deal with a new virus until it sees it for the first time.

    That’s why new computer viruses and new biological viruses can be so devastating—nobody has a way of dealing with them yet.

    Computer anti-virus programmers work hard to detect viruses before they infect too many computers. Then they work non-stop until they find a way to block those viruses from infecting new computers. But in almost every case, these research programmers don’t detect a virus until it’s already infected dozens, hundreds, or thousands of computers.

    Those first-infected computers get infected no matter how great their anti-virus software because their anti-virus software doesn’t know how to deal with the threat yet.

    Hackers Are A Computer Security Threat Like Bacteria

    Although anti-virus software and a firewall will protect your computer most of the time, there’s a similarity between hackers and massive doses of bacteria.

    If you step on a nail, particularly a rusty nail, your body will probably get a massive dose of dangerous bacteria. If your body can’t fight off that bacteria quickly, you’ll get an infection.

    If a hacker targets you, he can use a massive number of tools against your computer. It’s much like stepping on a rusty nail: your computer and your body are prepared for a small or moderate level of threats, but massive threats will overwhelm your defenses.

    Companies who face custom viruses and motivated hackers often use a strategy which doesn’t work well at home—they separate different functions on different computers. That way if their website goes down, it doesn’t affect their billing computer or any of their other services. But, at home, we usually just have one computer with which to do everything we need, so we can only hope that our regular anti-virus and firewall software will protect us, and that we won’t be unlucky enough to encounter a new or massive computer security threat.

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