/ Antiviruses

15 Myths and Misconceptions about Viruses and Security Applications

Myths about viruses and antiviruses

Myth #1: I have installed an Antivirus Software, my PC is secure

It is one of the most common misconceptions about antivirus software that their presence is all you need to secure your computer. Viruses are also none other than the piece of code or software, just like your anti-virus software. They both are created by those knowing both and to fight against each other. Both viruses and antiviruses keep them up to date and compete against each other.

Myth #2: My PC is safe because I Regularly Update my Antivirus

This is another myth that if you have updated Antivirus software, your computer will not get infected. Viruses that spread like wildfire are advanced, tried and tested piece of code, that are specially build to trick the anti-xxx like security applications.

The time lag between a virus-like program is found, its fingerprints being recorded, creating vaccines against these viruses by antivirus companies, distributing these vaccines (antivirus updates), updating your antivirus program and then scanning the whole computer with these antivirus updates can take few hours to few weeks, or sometimes few months. This is sufficient time for the viruses to do what they are built for.

Myth #3: I do not use the Internet on my computer, so no chance of getting infected

Internet is not only the place where your computer will get viruses and other malware. USB drives, CDs, DVDs are other popular mediums through which infections spread. Malware may also be present in some of the software, games or files you are using, even if they are popular and trusted but taken from untrusted sources like your friend’s computer.

Myth #4: My Antivirus detected a Virus. I must delete it

Not all the files detected by your antivirus application as ‘infected’ are necessarily infected. There is no guarantee that your antivirus application will treat other beneficial software, tools or files in a friendly way. It happens many times that some antivirus applications determines other applications such as anti-spyware, anti-adware or other security applications or sometimes your important files suspiciously and block their usage. So you cannot be sure, whether the ‘infected’ file is infected or not.

Myth #5: My computer is safe if I don’t download anything from the Internet

Of course, downloading files from untrusted sources increase the risk of your computer to get infected, but it is not at all necessary thing that only downloading the applications will put your PC at risk. There are many other ways through which your PC may get infected, even in the presence of a good antivirus application. Sometimes accessing insecure websites such as Porn, Adult, Gambling websites, etc., will run some scripts on your browser and one wrong click anywhere will cause you much.

Virus and Antivirus myths myth 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Myth #6: My computer is running slow nowadays. It must have infected with the virus

It happens most of the time when your computer gets infected, it starts slowing down the performance, or at least slowing down your internet connection speed because viruses and their cousins tend to connect with their secret servers. But it is not at all necessary that your computer is getting slower which means your computer is infected with viruses.

There might be other reason such as you did not run Defragmentation application since long, you have installed many applications on your computer, your hard-disk is full with songs and movies, and many more. You cannot blame it all to the viruses.

Myth #7: I don’t need an anti-virus

Trust me, I am not doubting your intelligence, but we are humans and someone already agreed to me saying, “to err is human”. Even I used to call myself smarter than others when it comes to dealing with computers and software, but, at one time or other, you meet other smart people who can take you back to the Earth.

People trying to create viruses, spyware, adware and also those are creating vaccines on them in antivirus companies are much smarter than most of us. Not only they are smarter but also they keep evolving every now and then. So you and I are left with no choice but to trust in antivirus applications for most of the common needs of safety.

Myth #8: My Antivirus software found and deleted viruses. My PC is clean now

Let me share one of my experience with one so-called ‘popular’ antivirus application in the market. This antivirus was installed in almost all the computers in the company I was working. The virus makers came with a solution to trick antivirus applications by splitting the virus into two different parts. The first part was like a normal software that can create a text file (code or scripts are also text files with some programming code written on them) at a regular interval. and the second part was the text file or actual virus (script).

The trick was antivirus could detect the virus (script) but cannot detect the first part of the application as a virus, because it is just a simple application that can create another text file. This cannot be categorized as ‘virus-like activity’ as almost all the applications create temporary files, other files, and folders on your computer. So that antivirus could only find a second part as a virus and users were annoyed every 10 to 15 seconds that a virus has been found.

Myth #9: If I do not open Porn / Adult Websites, my PC will not get infected

If you are thinking only porn, adult or gambling websites run bad scripts in the background, you should read my last blog post, Facebook applications that might annoy your friends. You must have already heard about Phishing websites which are nothing but clones of popular websites, especially banks and financial websites, to trick you.

Email attachments are also one of the common ways to get infected. I have also seen some people hiding one fine inside other files. For example, I saw someone to hide a video inside an image file. If you open that file, the image will show up as it generally does, but very few knew how to see that hidden video inside that image file.

Myth #10: Purchased antivirus is better than a FREE antivirus

Last months there was a ‘Tech Fest’ in our town. I saw approx 5 new antivirus companies marketing there and people were also buying these antiviruses like crazy because they had some nice discount plans.

If you know some programmers and have some money to form a little company, you can also create an antivirus application. So if you think you have purchased an antivirus and now you are more secure, I think, you need to rethink. There are options in the antivirus market that are not only free but also effective enough to keep you secure from most of the common threats. Money cannot be the only factor when choosing good antivirus software for your PC.

virus antivirus myths 11 to 15

Myth #11: A Virus can Damage My Hard-disk or burn my PC

Yes and No. No, because the virus is just another piece of code, software like any other software on your computer. It can only do things in the scope of your hardware and operating software. Viruses cannot physically damage Hard-disk or fire your PC if you do not have any such hardware and drivers (software) installed.

Yes, because sometimes it can control hardware and do some nasty things like Over-clocking your CPU, on-off your computer (done via software), open-close-block your CD/DVD drive (done via software) and so on. But chances of harming hardware lever are very low.

Myth #12: I will format my C drive and all virus will be gone

Viruses use things to activate themselves called ‘Triggers’. A trigger can be anything like a simple text file like autorun.ini file commonly found in pen drives, any combination key, clicking or double-clicking a file and so on.

Once I had to deal with a virus that creates an executable copy of itself on every hard drive, having an icon of a folder. Since viewing of extension is disabled by default on Windows ( like .docx) what you see is a .exe application looking very similar to a folder and named with a catchy title. One-click on such files will again install viruses on your newly formatted Windows. You never know the tricks of virus makers.

Myth #13: Deleting a suspicious file is better than Quarantine

For two reasons, I think this is not a good idea. First, not all the files that are found by antivirus are infected. Sometimes it can also detect your important data as infected and your data cannot be separated from infection. Deleting your data is losing your data in such situations. Such a mistake can happen when your computer is detected with a large number of infections and you don’t have time to manually see those couple of thousand infected files.

The second thing is deleting is not the correct way to throw a file out of your computer. These files can still be in your computer and won’t get deleted completely. This is how Windows is built. Sometimes viruses hide in System Volume Information and sometimes they are stored via System Restore application. Restoring your computer to the earlier point will bring back all those viruses, or if you did not restore, they will still be present at your computer in inactive mode.

Myth #14: Viruses attacks only pirated Windows, I have genuine updated Windows OS, I am safe

Using a genuine window and updating it regularly sure reduces the chances of getting infected with viruses, but it is no guarantee. On the contrary, sometimes, updating your software will leave you at greater risk than not updating. Don’t you know why updates are available to download for Windows now and then? It is because somewhere, someone finds loopholes in the Windows Operating Systems and viruses are created. When people notice and report problems, updates are created.

Myth #15: My security software have Anti-virus, Anti-malware, Anti-spyware, Anti-adware, Firewall; I am protected

Having these security tools will surely reduce the risk of infections, but above these all, your brain is the best tool that protects your computer. When was the last time you updated it?

Your brain is the best antivirus. When was the last time you updated it?

Rakesh Tembhurne

Rakesh Tembhurne

Rakesh is a father, software engineer, author and mentor having more than 8+ years of experience in web apps development.

Read More