Viruses and malware are created in many different forms and are identified by the method in which they propagate. For this reason, there is a wide variety of protection methods that must be used to identify viruses and malware by type and one of these methods involves a virus scan.
Viruses are programs that cannot propagate without a host. This means that they attach to another program in your PC and then when you try to use the program unexplained events begin to occur on your PC. In contrast, a worm is a program that can replicate itself without having to attach itself to another program which means it does not require the assistance of the PC user to begin circulation. Trojans on the other hand are classified under malware and hide inside of applications in your PC as well as programs you download from the Internet.
How a Virus Scan Works
Now that you have a basic understanding of viruses, worms, and Trojans, it will help you to understand how a virus scan works to detect and remove malicious files in your PC. Every virus has what is known as a signature which is a specific pattern that exists inside of every virus that is created. The patterns are studied by computer security specialists before they are added to the definitions database for your antivirus software. When you update the software the pattern is added to your list of definitions to allow the virus scan to identify when the virus is present in your PC.
Why a Quality Virus Scan is Important
Most creators of viruses design the virus so it goes undetected by virus scanners however, if you deploy a reputable virus scan the chances are much better of detecting a virus that tries to hide. Viruses can be hidden through the use of encryption and the programmers who create viruses usually vary the encryption for each PC that is infected in an effort to avoid the virus scanner.
A quality virus scan is designed to get around this process by searching for virus patterns (signatures) in partial form which helps the scan to find the program that decrypts the virus so it can be removed. Additionally, a quality virus scan will provide the option of running a deep scan which requires a significant amount of time to complete but also ensures that the files are completely identified and removed.
Most mediocre virus scans will simply scan the common files where viruses usually hide instead of being capable of developing an internal signature list that helps to detect other files commonly targeted by savvy programmers. The same concept rings true for worms where the virus scan will scan the most common locations where worms can hide with higher quality scanners going beyond the common places.
Virus Scans and Malware
Most quality virus scans can also detect malware such as Trojans in addition to virus signatures. However, some PC users layer their protection by deploying quality anti-malware programs as well as an antivirus program with virus scan.
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