The importance of Antivirus in today’s day and age can’t be stressed enough. They help you identify and remove all kinds of malicious threats that can cause grave damage both to your crucial data as well as the device where you have stored the data. Here’s how Antivirus helps in protecting your PC.
But, do you know that Antivirus are not 100% perfect? Do you know there are times when they might show the wrong results?
By the way of this post, we don’t intend to scare you but make you aware that there are instances when you shouldn’t blindly rely on what your Antivirus says.
Consider This Example
You installed an image editing software from a very trusted publisher. But, the moment you ran the installer, your firewall or Antivirus popped up a notification saying that your graphic editing software is in fact malware. Would you trust your Antivirus and delete the software even after knowing that the tool is very important for completing your tasks, or would you rather investigate this further and find out if the software is legit?
What Are False Results?
False results that are sometimes returned by Antivirus software can fall into two categories – False positives and false negatives. Let’s understand these two scenarios:
False positives are when an Antivirus flags off a legitimate application or file as a malicious threat. And, False negative is when an Antivirus fails to identify a threat and doesn’t flag it off. We’ll talk about each of them a little later. But, first let’s emphasis on the looming question
Why Does Antivirus Software Return False Results
Let’s try and understand the scenarios in which an Antivirus may return false results –
- Incorrect Heuristic/ Signature Analysis – Most Antivirus utilities use heuristics or signature analysis to identify threats. The Antivirus may flag off legitimate software as malware if it exhibits behavior similar to malware.
For example – Some password managers generate executable files and even write registry entries which is quite similar to rootkits and crypto jackers.
- Outdated Database – There is a reason why it is advisable to invest in an Antivirus of good repute. That’s because if the threat database of an Antivirus is not updated regularly, it may flag legitimate software as malware. Or, worse, it may not be able to identify a zero-day threat and cease protecting your PC from that harmful malware.
- Technical Issue – Sometimes technical issues in an Antivirus or conflicts with other applications can result in misinterpreted results. This is when Antivirus may falsely identify a file as malware or not identify an infected file as malware.
- Obfuscated or Encrypted Code – Malware or viruses are evolving on a daily basis. Sometimes malicious code is hidden through obfuscation or encryption and hence an Antivirus may not be able to detect it.
- The Antivirus Doesn’t Scan All Areas – If the Antivirus is incapable of scanning an entire device, and furthermore, if malware resides in those unscanned areas, the Antivirus will not identify the application or file as threat and hence return false negatives.
- Polymorphic Malware – Some malware can change code to avoid detection. If an Antivirus is incapable of recognizing these variations, it may result in false negatives.
What To Do To Avoid Antivirus Results
1. Stick To The Basics
First things first, it is important that you adhere to some basic rules such as never clicking on suspicious links, always downloading applications from trusted websites, keeping applications and operating systems updated, never exposing passwords (Wi-Fi, PC, etc), and using strong passwords for account logins. This is not an all-inclusive list but these are the kinds of things that can prevent the entry of malware from creeping into your device.
2. Download Only A Trusted Antivirus
As we mentioned before, an Antivirus of repute goes a long way. Again, if you want insight on how to choose the right antivirus software for your device, check out this post.
To give an example – Systweak Antivirus is one of the best Antivirus software for Windows. Here are some of its notable features –
- The malware database of Systweak Antivirus is regularly updated.
- It comes with web protection. As soon as you stumble upon a malicious website, Systweak Antivirus warns you.
- It has a firewall feature that analyzes incoming traffic and controls internet access.
- Scans every nook and corner of your computer.
- Multiple scan modes – Quick, Deep, and Custom.
- It quarantines the files it suspects. You can analyze them and take action later.
- Schedule scans at your desired time.
You can check out this post and see the various features of Systweak Antivirus in action.
Here is a list of some of the best Antivirus tools for Windows.
3. Quarantine File
This feature lets you put a suspected file in an isolated folder in a location that is away from your computer. Don’t worry, while in this location, even if the file is malicious, the infection won’t spread to other files.
While the file or application in question is quarantined, you can do the following things and ascertain if the file or application is malware or not –
- Search the file on Google and research more about it.
- Head to VirusTotal, a free website that scans files and URLs for viruses, trojans, worms, and other malicious content.
- Send the application or file to the customer support team or forum of your Antivirus. They can help you find out if the file or application in question is problematic or not.
4. Regularly Fetch Updates
Lastly, while most Antivirus updates themselves every now and then, in case need be, check for updates. That’s because with every update developers make sure that functionality of the Antivirus improves. Moreover, more definitions and the ability to understand variations is improved.
Verify Before Trusting Your Antivirus
We’d again like to reinstate that one must always have an Antivirus on PC. This way you can steer clear of malicious threats. That being said, in case you come across a scenario where you feel that the file or application flagged off as malware is legit or malware wasn’t identified despite signs like these, take the steps mentioned above. Just like a second opinion, you can always turn to an alternative Antivirus tool and be sure that you are heading in the right direction.