Do I Have Antivirus Software on My Computer?

By Kefa Olang

Computer threats come from every angle and in many forms, all with the purpose of damaging your computer system. Threats include viruses, spyware, Trojans, malware and worm parasites. Without an antivirus program, it is difficult to detect and remove malicious files. It is important to make sure that you have an antivirus program and ensure that it is running to keep your computer protected.

Significance

Knowing whether or not you have an antivirus program installed on your computer can be the difference between a properly functioning computer and a severely damaged one. Antivirus programs are security tools that help prevent malicious files from stealing vital system information, damaging programs and hardware and preventing network intrusions. Your operating system should alert you to your security status, so you can address security problems immediately.

Checking the Security Center

For PC users, the Windows Security Center is a system configuration center that allows you to verify the presence of an antivirus program and check its operating status. The Windows Security Center is located in the Control Panel and always displays an "ON" message if it determines that an antivirus program is installed on your computer. Whenever an antivirus program is outdated, the Security Center displays an "Out of date" message, signifying that you should update your security program. For Mac users, check the dock for an antivirus program. If you do not see any program, check the applications folder.

Antivirus Programs

If the Security Center (Windows users) or application folder (Mac users) states that you do not have an antivirus program, install a reputable antivirus program. Antivirus programs are either free or paid depending on the features. For Windows systems, consider a free reputable program such as AVG or BitDefender if you are looking for a paid program with additional security features. For Mac users, consider programs such as PC Tools iAntivirus or Norton Antivirus (Mac Version). Once you have decided on a program, download and install it. For Mac users, download the Mac version, mount it and install it in the applications folder.

Warnings

Do not download and install any antivirus program that you are not familiar with because there are many rogue antivirus programs out there (e.g. Antivirus 2009) that camouflage as legitimate security tools, when they are actually fake programs. Once you have installed a reputable antivirus program, make sure you update it frequently with the latest virus and spyware definitions to combat the latest threats when they arise.

Misconceptions

Antivirus programs are not all you need to keep your computer safe from malicious files and activities. While they are good start for security, high risk activities such as downloading files from malicious Websites (e.g. Warez) or opening strange email attachments can leave your computer open to attacks. Even if you don't regularly surf the Web, you can still get a virus. Viruses can be downloaded on your computer using a network server, whether you are using the Internet or not.