Can a Virus or Spyware Get Through Free and Paid Antivirus Products?

Many of our clients will call in and tell us "I have a virus", and they usually follow this by saying "But I had XYZ Product installed and it still managed to corrupt my data or system files." We usually have to calmly explain to them, "Viruses, malware, spyware, and scareware can get right through many of the big box products." And if you don't know who the usual suspects are, just go search "top 5 antivirus" via your favorite search engine. Any reputable computer repair company will tell you that these products are not 100 percent failsafe in detecting possible spyware and malware issues.

It's not just the big box products that cause problems. The lesser known but popular free products can be better, but we have seen scareware get right through those products as well. With viruses today being so polymorphicc, it's almost too tough for any company to stay on top of all the virus outbreaks, which by the way are in the thousands every day. New viruses are now being categorized as a polymorphism, and what that means for us as end users, is that the virus can change or cause different results on every computer it infects. One computer user may lose internet capabilities; while another computer user may not be allowed to open files or programs.

New term to learn: Scareware

What is scareware you ask? Windows that pop up with "infections found" and they usually appear to be a real antivirus product running a scan to find viruses, but they are in fact quite the opposite. A window will open that looks real, which can in some cases intimidate or even scare a user into allowing a fraudulent scan of your PC. (And if you leave them on long enough, they can even turn into something much worse).

With respect to the big box guys, it's not always their fault, but most consumers believe they should at least be able to catch some of the newer trends and attack threats. If you own one of the big box products, you're probably asking yourself, what can I do as a consumer to make sure I have the highest level of protection?

Paid products:

Always make sure your subscription is valid. Check into upgrades to see if your product has another version for malware/spyware. Double check your settings to insure they are all configured right to protect your computer. Verify that the real-time detection is enabled (you may need to check all the settings to find this option). Schedule updates for "daily." Schedule scans for "daily." Find out their refund policy because if you get a virus and need to pay a company to remove it, you better be able to get your money back on a product that failed.

Free products:

Most options try to do a good job, but free is still free. Or as most would say, you get what you pay for. As an ethical and reputable computer support provider and author, I will not even try to convince you that paid options are somewhat better than the free options. Our statistics cannot prove one way or the other, as we see just as many intrusions from the paid options as we do with the free options.

Our next article will offer more information on stopping a "fake virus download" before additional problems arise.

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