Antivirus software has (understandably) become so popular that nearly every organization requires its use on all its desktop and server systems. Many manufacturers and integrators of personal computers sold at retail include an antivirus program as standard equipment. Antivirus software on new computers is almost as common as seat belts and air bags on new cars.
Antivirus software (commonly known as AV software) operates by intercepting operating system routines that store files and open files. The AV software compares the contents of the file being opened or stored against a list of virus signatures. If the AV software detects a virus, it prevents the file from being opened or saved, usually alerting the user via a pop-up window (which is like a high-tech jack-in-the-box). Enterprise versions of the AV software send an alert to a central monitoring console so that the company’s antivirus bureau is alerted and can take evasive action if necessary.
While the number of viruses grows, the antivirus software vendors provide a way for users to update their AV software’s list of signatures so that they can defend against the latest viruses. AV software automatically contacts the AV vendor’s central computer and downloads a new signature file if the vendor’s version is newer than the user’s. Enterprise versions of AV software can now push new signature files to all desktop systems and even invoke new scans in real time. AV software now commonly looks for updates one ...