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What is heuristics and why your antivirus should have it

There is a wide variety of programs that help defend our computer against possible threats. You should know that not all antiviruses are the same, and can be classified into two groups. We have, on the one hand, the antivirus based on signatures and, on the other hand, we have those based on the heuristics. We are going to explain to you what heuristics are and the importance of your antivirus including it.

The conventional way in which antiviruses behave is simple and not always effective. Basically, conventional antiviruses rely on a three-step signature mechanism to protect us.

The first of these steps is the detection of new malware. New malicious software is required to be discovered in order to intervene. Now, the antivirus development company requires a copy of this malware to create a detection and suppression system.

Once a system to protect and eliminate this malware has been developed, it must be shared with users. This process requires a large-scale antivirus software update. Customers receive notifications about a required update that they must accept and install, which can sometimes take a long time to arrive or not be deployed.

After installing the update that detects the new malware, the user is considered protected against this malicious software.

What is heuristics

It is a technology developed to detect malicious code in a more proactive way. It means that the signature process that requires the antivirus development company to generate countermeasures is eliminated.

Basically, what is done at this point is to analyze the file that may be malicious. During this process, a comparison of your behavior with hundreds of patterns that could indicate the possible presence of a threat. Each of the actions performed by the file is assigned a score. If the sum of these numbers exceeds a value, it will be classified as possible new malware.

We are talking about a proactive detection method necessary in the face of the incipient amount of malicious code that appears daily. This eliminates the sole need for signatures and improves user security.

This process is much simpler and faster. We must keep in mind that creating signatures for each malware takes time. Not only the time to develop the signature and protection against malware, there is an earlier process of detecting, obtaining and analyzing the malware to create the signature.

comparative antivirus heuristic signatures

Signatures do not disappear

Creating a signature takes a lot of time, but that doesn’t mean they are unnecessary. Actually, what heuristics allow us is early protection against possible threats, they do not replace signatures, they complement them. It protects the user during the development process of an element that protects us from malware.

The reasons why signatures are still necessary are:

  • They allow the detection of much more specific malware, being more efficient to combat more complex threats
  • Attackers put a lot of effort into obfuscating (hiding) malware and thus bypassing heuristic analyses, which is why specific signatures are still necessary
  • A threat detected by heuristics helps, but creating a correct signature allows the system to save system resources during the file scanning process

Antivirus that has heuristics

We know what antivirus with heuristics is and the importance of this solution that helps us protect ourselves. Now, let’s see some of those that have this technology:

  • Windows Defender: Microsoft’s own operating system antivirus has heuristic technology to improve security. It helps us protect ourselves from any software that can be harmful to our system, which is why it is considered one of the best antivirus currently.
  • Norton 360: another very interesting and powerful option that guarantees comprehensive system security, guaranteeing privacy at all times. It is characterized by being a very complete and easy-to-use solution.
  • Bitdefender: It has a huge database and in addition to having heuristics, it has artificial intelligence for malware detection. This software is complemented by an anti-phishing system, as well as a VPN system
  • AVG: interesting option that has heuristics and machine learning, actively protecting us against all types of malicious software. It has a great drawback and that is that it usually detects false positives and has a high consumption of resources

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer. Always interested in the way in which technology can change people's lives, and that is why I also advise individuals and companies when it comes to adopting all the advances in Apple devices and services.


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