Not Updated Means Not Protected

October 2011
by Robin Wark

You are a busy person with things to do. Why take time to update your anti-virus and anti-spyware software and databases?

Viruses, spyware, keyloggers, Trojan downloaders ... the Internet and email are rife with threats looking to take advantage of you and your PC.

A recent study showed that in 2010, $114 billion was lost by 431 million people due to cybercrime. The same study estimated that $241 billion was spent on time lost trying to recover from the damages of those crimes.

Why worry?

One of the easiest ways to improve your PC’s security is to ensure that your security software and its databases are regularly updated. Why should you be concerned about updating? Because it is easy to be infected.

Cybercriminals and malware authors are using every means necessary to try to get their malicious code onto your PC. For example, a survey of Canadian IT and IT security professionals found that 51 per cent reported an increase in malware due to social media use. You get a message on Facebook or Twitter that appears to be from a friend and – with one click – you are infected.

It can happen to anyone! According to volume 11 of the Microsoft Security Intelligence report, 44.8 per cent of malware infections required user interaction. This means that the user was usually duped into clicking something.

Why update?

As well as new delivery methods, malware authors are always trying new variants in an attempt to beat detection. However, a vigilant security software company works hard to track down new threats. For example, ParetoLogic uses a “honeypot.” It is basically a seemingly unsecure machine that surfs online collecting malware samples. This information is then used to update the databases for XoftSpySE Anti-Spyware, ParetoLogic Anti-Virus PLUS and the active malware remover in ParetoLogic PC Health Advisor.

Many anti-virus and anti-spyware programs use signature-based detection. The key parts of a known malware program are used to create a fingerprint. The security software scans your machine to see if the fingerprint matches any of your files. If it does, it is likely malware.

With regular database updates, your security software is able to search for emerging threats – before they do any damage!

As well, there are also program updates that are issued for security software. These are not as frequent as the database updates, but they are also important. They can bring improved detection and cleaning as well as new features.

How to update

The best way to keep your anti-virus or anti-spyware databases updated is to have your program do it automatically. That way, if a new database is available, it will download it and you will be ready to scan for the latest malware.

When installing security software, you can usually set it to update databases automatically. Sometimes this is the default setting. You can also set this up after you have installed the program. For example, in most ParetoLogic security programs you can go to the Settings page and make sure that “automatically check for database updates” is on. You can also go to the About page and click “Check for Updates...”

It just takes a few minutes – often even less than that – to update your security software. This time spent pays off with a better protected PC.

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