Our Blog

Home   »   Does Antivirus Software Work Against All Cyber Threats? The Honest Answer!

Do you remember Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault in Harry Potter that was filled with jewels and one invaluable item, a Horcrux? If you were asked to secure and protect that vault from intruders, what would you do? 

If it were me (as one of Lord Voldemort’s most loyalists), I would use every protection spell in the book to protect that vault. I would even use magical creatures to guard the entry of the vault to eliminate threats immediately. 

So what does Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault have to do with the topic of this article?

Your computer is like this vault, filled with critical data about every aspect of your life.

Now, how can you protect your digital vault? Does antivirus software work?

You bet it does. 

What Is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus Software Is a Program with a Set of Codes Made to Protect Digital Devices
Image Source: Shutterstock

Antivirus software is basically a program with a set of codes created to protect digital devices against cyber threats. Antivirus software works against malware, spyware, adware, Trojans, worms, viruses, malicious software, and basically every digital threat that can harm your device or data. 

We live in a rapidly advancing world of technology which is both good and bad; bad for computer protection because cyber threats are becoming more advanced and dangerous, and good because antivirus solutions are becoming more fierce. 

You see, there is no way we can stop cyber attacks from happening. But with a robust antivirus solution, we have a fighting chance. Antivirus software sounds too techy, so if you want to build a better image, think of them as the Hogwarts guardians, effective and ruthless against all intruders. 

The History of Antivirus Software

The first antivirus solution emerged in the late 80s to combat a virus called Vienna, designed to attack .com files on DOS-based systems. You might be familiar with NOD32 Antivirus (ESET), which was developed in 1987. 

More than three decades have passed, and now companies like Avast, Bitdefender, AVG, etc., which all started combating cyber threats in the 90s, are the front runners in computer protection. 

It’s no question that antivirus software works against cyber threats, but many people are concerned about the software itself and whether or not it can be trusted. 

In the next section, we cover some popular methods antivirus solutions use to combat cyber threats so you can better understand their core functionality. 

Popular Antivirus Security Methods

Improving security methods is what makes antivirus software work against ever-evolving cyber threats. Some of these security methods are:

  • Signature-based detection
  • Heuristic analysis
  • Behavior-based detection
  • Sandbox testing

Let’s cover details about these methods to see how they contribute to computer protection.

Signature-Based Detection 

The Method of Signature-Based Detection Finds Threats Based on Their Signatures Registered in the Database
Image Source: Unsplash.Com

Signature-based antivirus software works like a police database scanning criminals’ records and fingerprints to match them with a crime scene. The antivirus has a specific database of signatures of known threats. Once you enable your antivirus, it starts cross-referencing each file’s signatures based on its own database. If there’s a match, the antivirus flags that file or program as a threat and blocks it. 

Signature-based detection is mostly used in security technologies such as Address Verification Services (AVSs), Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPSs), and firewalls.

Synopsys.com has done several tests to determine the functionality of signature-based detection; here are 2 of them:

Apache Struts: The signature-based detection method revealed a vulnerability that allowed remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via a #cmd= string in a crafted Content-Type HTTP header.

Samba: The signature-based detection method revealed a vulnerability that allowed malicious users to upload a shared library to a writable share and then command the server to load and execute it.

Heuristic Analysis

This security method turns antivirus software into a keen inspector, sort of like Inspector Gadget. ;). Similar to the signature-based method, the heuristic model uses a database of known malicious codes. The only difference is that it also can detect suspicious codes even if not in the database. 

The heuristic method works well against polymorphic viruses (which we’ll discuss later on) that are constantly evolving. Kaspersky, a popular antivirus solution, uses the heuristic model to detect new cyber threats or variants of older ones and put them in an isolated virtual machine (or sandbox) for further assessment, if necessary. 

Another benefit of the heuristic model is that it can decompile a program to examine its source code for malicious viruses. It is known as the static heuristic analysis.

Although the heuristic method is more advanced compared to the signature-based method and doesn’t require signature recognition, it cannot provide computer protection single-handedly. 

Behavior-Based Detection

The behavior-based detection method detects any unusual or suspicious activity of a program. For example, if you get called down by the FBI for suspicious activity, they send in an agent to rattle you and see your reactions. Now, if your body language, the look in your eyes, your voice, etc., are sketchy, they will detain you for further questioning. That’s sort of how behavior-based detection works. 

With this security method, the antivirus software works to find abnormal or malware-like activity like overwriting or replicating codes, serving unwanted ads, deleting or encrypting data, etc. Since behavior-based antivirus solutions can detect new threats by examining their behavior, they work well against zero-day attacks

Sandbox Testing

Sandbox testing is great for testing suspicious programs or software in a safe and isolated environment. As a result, if a malicious program is detected, it cannot cause damage to the device.

Ok, let’s make this fun.

Do you remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Snatchers captured Harry, Ron and Hermione? Hermione threw a Stinging Jinx at Harry’s face, which disfigured his face so Snatchers wouldn’t know his true identity. But Snatchers didn’t take a chance and captured all of them, especially when they saw Harry’s scar. So in a way, they sandboxed Harry, and rightfully so, as he threatened Lord Voldemort. 

Back to reality, sandbox testing is excellent for combating zero-day attacks because it confines them in a separate space, so they won’t be able to cause any damage.

For example, Windows Defender for Windows 10 allows users to run the antivirus in a safe sandbox to test security solutions. According to PCMag.com, you can run attack simulations on applications including Java, Microsoft Office, and Windows 10 under the Microsoft free trial of Windows Defender ATP evaluation lab.

How Does Antivirus Work Against Security Challenges? 

There Are Different Types of Threats and Some Antivirus Might Not Be Effective on All Types
Image Source: Pexels.Com

There isn’t and will never be one single solution that can protect your data and device from all cyber attacks. And the reason is apparent, technological advancement. Now, we don’t want to scare you, but you need to be aware that some antivirus software works on new (and old) threats, and others don’t. 

Polymorphic malware, encrypted malware, and zero-day attacks are not new. But if you use a signature-based security solution, your device will not be well protected. Let’s talk more about these cyber threats, and then we’ll tell you which antivirus combats them all and more. 

Polymorphic Malware:

Do you remember the Polyjuice potion in Harry Potter, which enabled people to transform their physical looks and appearance? Polymorphic malware constantly drinks the Polyjuice potion and changes its identifiable features and codes to elude detection. 

Encrypted Malware:

Encrypted malware walks around systems wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. It remains hidden and can spread through files, programs, software, etc., undetected. 

Zero-Day Attacks:

Zero-day attacks happen when cybercriminals spot a 0-day-old vulnerability in a system and exploit it. The term zero-day attacks comes from the fact that these cyber crooks have spotted the potential security loophole before developers, which gives them more than enough time to launch their attacks. 

In zero-day attacks, the attacker hides his malware in an email or message instructing the user to click on a malicious website or open an infected file, and when they do, the malware is in. 

Which Antivirus Software Works Against These 3 Cyber Threats?

Bitdefender combats Polymorphic malware, encrypted malware, and zero-day attacks perfectly using advanced, layered detection and prevention techniques. Bitdefender also secures your systems against data theft and has an encrypted quarantine folder to store malware-looking software or files. 

If you want to know more about Bitdefender quarantine, click here.  

10 Antivirus Software Best Practices to Annihilate Cyber Threats

Let’s go over ten quick tips about antivirus software best practices for maximum online security:

  1. Install a robust, effective, and trustworthy antivirus: the number one computer protection tool to detect and eliminate malicious threats.
  2. Do not click on random and suspicious-looking links: they are the gateway for cyber attacks.
  3. Do not open emails from unknown senders, and double-check the ones from known senders as well; some malware can hijack a domain name and make an email address look legitimate.
  4. Install firewalls to secure your network and filter suspicious traffic. Not having firewalls leaves your network vulnerable and an easy gateway for unauthorized, unrestricted access.
  5. Use solid and hard-to-guess passwords for everything; your birthday, anniversary dates, 123456, pet name, etc., are all easy passwords, and even not-so-smart hackers can crack them.
  6. Update your device; software updates are not fun to install, but they are necessary for computer protection. 
  7. Never use public WiFi for sensitive activities like paying bills, sending legal or medical files, etc.; cyber lurkers feed on public network connections. 
  8. Update your internet browsers. Otherwise, you run a high chance of all sorts of security issues like identity theft, phishing attacks, viruses, trojans, and spyware.
  9. Use VPN when connecting to a public network; if you only have access to public WiFi, then using a VPN is necessary to protect your online activity. 
  10. Do not click on ads. Most ads contain malware, and by clicking on them, you give express entry to ransomware, phishing attacks, identity/data theft, etc.

Antivirus software best practices only work if you do your part in securing your computer. 


Keeping the System and Apps Updated Makes an Antivirus Work Against Online Threats Effectively
Image Source: Shutterstock

We learned that antivirus software works against cyber threats and is one of the best solutions for computer protection. An antivirus uses different methods to combat viruses, including signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, behavior-based detection, and sandbox testing. 

  • Signature-based antivirus works like a police scanner, running through a database of malicious codes to find a match in a system.
  • The heuristic method works like Inspector Gadget. It’s always looking for new or old malicious codes in software and can even dip into their source code for further assessment. 
  • The behavior-based antivirus works like a well-trained body language expert, looking for suspicious clues in software behavior. 
  • And an antivirus that uses sandbox testing creates a safe, isolated environment to examine suspicious codes.

We also talked about three prevalent cyber threats, including Polymorphic malware (shapeshifter or, more specifically, identity shifter), encrypted malware (hidden in plain sight), and zero-day attacks ( that exploit 0-day-old vulnerabilities). To fight them, we introduced a powerful antivirus that works excellently against all of them; Bitdefender. 

(if you are looking for the best prices to take advantage of Bitdefender’s effective security methods, click here.)

And then, we wrapped it up by giving you ten practical tips to stay safe online. 

Antivirus Software Functionality FAQ

How Does Antivirus Software Find Viruses?

Antivirus software uses advanced detection methods to find suspicious coding in programs, files, etc. Some of these security methods are signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, behavior-based detection, and sandbox testing. 

Is It Necessary to Use Antivirus Software?

If you want to keep your data safe and protect your device, yes. Antivirus software works against most cyber threats, but remember that you should implement other security measures to stay safe online, which we covered in this article.

Can Antivirus Software Detect All Threats and Malware Types?

Robust antivirus software can detect most cyber threats, including malware, ransomware, adware, spyware, viruses, Trojans, etc. Still, since cybercriminals are a restless bunch, they are always cooking up new malicious codes to exploit users.

Is It Possible That a Virus Remains Hidden From Antivirus?

Yes. If you are using an outdated antivirus, it might be unable to detect hidden or encrypted malware. 

How Often Should You Scan Your System for Viruses?

It’s a good idea to scan your system once every week unless you:
– Accessed an unsecured network
– Plugged an unsafe device into your computer
– Clicked on suspicious links, files, ads, etc
, then you need to take action immediately.

Is Having Antivirus Software Enough to Stay Safe From Cybersecurity Threats?

No. This is like asking, ”Is there one pill that can cure all illnesses?” We hope so, but for now, it doesn’t exist. The same goes for cyber threats; you need to take every security measure there is if you want to stay safe online. But installing a robust antivirus is the first and most important thing you should do to combat cyber attacks.

What Should I Do if a Virus Is Detected in My System?

So if you use Bitdefender, there is a quarantine folder that stores suspicious programs and enables you to examine them further. Sometimes antivirus solutions flag clean programs as threats; then, you need to step in and assess the situation. However, if you don’t recognize the suspicious file or program, it’s best to delete it immediately. 


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open chat
Bitdefender Support
Hello 👋
Can we help you?