The basic anatomy of antivirus firewall software

Antivirus firewall software vendors have shifted the marketing crosshairs to small office and home (SOHO) users, providing them with an alternative defense against hackers, viruses and other malware infecting information technology. These antivirus and firewall developers offer a lightweight alternative to purchasing expensive firewall appliances and intrusion detection hardware that big companies spend money on. As a SOHO user, one should at least know the basics of antivirus firewall software and what and how they work. In the long term, this knowledge will help a user maximize the effectiveness of their software investment.

Antivirus firewall software consists of three main parts. These parts work together, increasing their defensive capabilities threefold compared to working alone.

The first part is the antivirus software, which is mainly responsible for detecting viruses originating from Trojan horses, emails and worms. It does the job of regularly scanning the computer system for malicious code that might have infected it. It cleans the infected files. Also, infected system resources are quarantined and sent to the vendor or developer for research and a possible solution.

The antivirus also scans inbound email traffic, browsing activity, downloads, file transfers, and network traffic for signs of security breaches. All of this happens in real time. A proper antivirus firewall software engine will also update its core programming and virus database with a central server from time to time, as viruses are distributed by the hundreds every day.

The second part is the firewall software. The task of monitoring all types of traffic entering the system falls to this software. All computer systems communicate with each other via data packets, whether over the Internet, local area network, VPN or wireless network. Firewall software analyzes this data for damaged and modified packets. It drops these packets when it finds a threat based on user-configured or heuristic scans or a set of rules. Trojan viruses sometimes cannot be detected by antivirus software, but antivirus firewall software can detect their activity and instruct the antivirus to isolate the source.

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The third part is the antispyware software. Spyware are weak viruses that hide in a computer system not to destroy it, but to collect data. Even reputable companies use these strategies in their marketing campaigns. Some spyware also collects credit card details and other sensitive information that can be used for blackmail and other nefarious activities. Antispyware software works with the antivirus and firewall to prevent this malicious code from sending information out of a computer system.