When you set up a computer for the first time, a lot of techno-jargon gets thrown around. Like a short couple in a Big & Tall store, anti-virus and anti-malware always seem to stand out but are often little understood. People wonder which one they need or if they need both or none at all. Sorting this out on your own can be very confusing.
The bottom line is that you should have both anti-malware and anti-virus software. Not doing so increases the chances that rogue software can affect both the health and security of your PC. To explain why it is necessary to have both, this article will focus two pieces of software recommended by Stability Networks: AVG Anti-Virus and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro.
It is important to have an understanding about what malware and computer viruses actually are. The term “malware” refers to any software intended to disrupt the normal operation of your computer. This can include, among others, spyware, adware, Trojan horses, rootkits and computer viruses themselves. Meanwhile, a computer virus is specifically defined as a program that can copy itself and infect a computer.
With that understanding, one might easily wonder what the point is in having anti-virus software when you could just have an anti-malware program that does it all. The answer lies in an understanding of the how the two types of software work.
As a first line of defense for computer security, anti-virus software, such as AVG Anti-Virus, is designed to remove most, if not all, types of computer malware. To clarify, the term “computer virus” is often used (albeit erroneously) as a catch-all phrase for any type of malware out there. Because that use is substantially more common than the specific definition, programs that remove malicious software are referred to and marketed as “anti-virus” programs.
Publishers of legitimate anti-virus software are often large companies with a large team of researchers that focus on the most current and dangerous malware. Those researchers regularly update a database of definitions that the anti-virus software checks against when you scan your computer. If a file displays the characteristics of one that has been infected with malware, the software will alert you and assist you in removing the file. When you are not doing a scan, it constantly monitors your system for anything bad.
Anti-malware software like Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro works a lot in the same way but differs in its focus. “The majority of the research that goes into [the software] is based on what the anti-virus vendors are failing on most frequently,” said Bruce Harrison, Vice President of research at Malwarebytes as found on their company website. Essentially, anti-malware is there to detect and remove what your regular anti-virus might miss.
Harrison also mentioned that their software is not an anti-virus. It is important, as noted by Samuel Lindsey, Product Manager for Malwarebytes, to not to have one without the other. “You should absolutely have anti-virus software along with a good firewall and, of course, a good anti-malware application like Malwarebytes’,” said Lindsey. The two types of programs are meant to work in harmony with each other.
In conclusion, while Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro and AVG Anti-Virus are industry-leading software in their respective areas, one alone is not the end-all be-all of computer security. That is why at Stability Networks we recommend to have both installed to provide the multi-layered approach that today’s computing world needs. With both you can know that you are doing your part in making sure your data is safe and secure.