What is Antivirus Software?

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What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software was first invented with an intention to identify and destroy computer viruses. However with the increase in the number of malicious threats and thereafter attacks, Developers on extensive research and with the advanced methodology have found ways to secure computers from any form of malware like viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, computer worms, adware, ransomware and more. Antivirus programs have been developed to scan and identify malicious threats like viruses and eliminate it instantly. Most of the antivirus software are featured with automatic updates alerting it to update the profiles of new viruses, to safeguard the system from any latest viruses or any other malware.

Free and Paid Versions of Antivirus – Know the Difference

Antivirus software can be a free version or a paid version. Free Antivirus software are programmed to perform a signature-based detection, that can identify if the program is malicious relating to an existing identified list of malware. While paid antivirus program implements heuristic technique to capture zero day threats or any other new form of threats by executing files in a virtual space through an advanced method of containment called sandboxing.

Why the need an advancement in antivirus software?

Malware writers develop their malware by testing them against the most complex antivirus software, They create malware that takes different forms making it undetected by any good antivirus software. It is the best solution to be updated with the latest web browser, operating system and any software that you use, also make sure to update your antivirus software. Implement the use of Firewall along with the implementation of antivirus. Use other modes of PC protection that provides a multi-layered approach on security.

Timeline of Antivirus

Era of pre-antivirus (1949-1980)

The first virus was developed in 1971 and was termed as Creeper virus. This made the entry of the first antivirus software called the Reaper. It was a virus by itself that was developed to remove Creeper virus. Though it was used as an Antivirus software, it was not updated frequently. They were designed and generated to check for viruses in executable files of hard disks and floppy disks.

Early days of Antivirus (1980-1990)

  • The first antivirus recorded to detect and remove computer virus in the wild was created by Bernd Fix in 1987.
  • It was Kai Figge and Andreas Lüning founded G Data Software and hence unveiled the first antivirus product for Atari ST platform in the year 1987.
  • Ultimate Virus Killer (UVK) 2000 antivirus was also released later the same year.
  • The first two heuristics based antivirus software were Anti4us by Erwin Lanting and FluShot Plus by Ross Greenberg, both of which were released in 1987.
  • F-PROT, heuristic based antivirus software in 1991.
  • Tjark Auerbach founded the pilot version of Antivirus (initially called Luke Filewalker)
  • Frans Veldman found the first version of ThunderByte Antivirus (TBAV), which was later sold to Norman Safeground in 1998.
  • The first version of Avast Antivirus was found in Czech Republic by Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš.
  • Dr. Ahn Cheol-Soo founded the first antivirus software in South Korea called V1 in 1988, Later in 1995, he founded AhnLab.
  • Alan Solomon founded S&S International, where he established Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit in 1988, launching it commercially in 1991.
  • Ross M. Greenberg released VirexPC, the second antivirus program in the end of 1998.
  • Friðrik Skúlason created F-PROT Anti-Virus in Iceland, in 1989.
  • Gary Hendrix founded Symantec antivirus company in 1982, and released the first Symantec antivirus for Macintosh SAM 2.0 in March 1990.
  • Peter Lammer and Jan Hruska established Sophos, a security firm in the United Kingdom towards the end of 1980s and produced their first antivirus product and other encryption products.

Revolution in Antivirus Industry (1990-2000)

  • Panda Security was founded in Spain by Mikel Urizarbarrena in 1990.
  • Pasteur antivirus was founded and released by Péter Szőr, in Hungary the same year.
  • VirIT eXplorer antivirus was also founded in Italy in the same year
  • PC-Cillin was released by Trend Micro in the end of the same year
  • Computer Antivirus Research Organization (CARO) was founded in 1990.
  • Vesselin Bontchev and Friðrik Skúlason wrote the "Virus Naming Scheme" released by CARO in 1991.
  • The pilot version of Norton Anti-Virus was first released by Symantec in 1991.
  • Tomáš Hofer and Jan Gritzbach founded AVG Technologies formerly known as Grisoft, in Czechoslovakia in the same year. It released Anti-Virus Guard (AVG) in 1992.
  • Risto Siilasmaa and Petri Allas founded F-Secure in Finland in 1988.
  • European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) was founded in 1991to enhance the development of antivirus software.
  • Igor Danilov released SpiderWeb, now known as Dr.Web, in Russia, in 1992.
  • AV-TEST announced that there were 28,613 different malware samples in their database, in 1994.
  • Bitdefender was founded in Romania in 1996, and released the first kind of Anti-Virus eXpert in the same year.
  • Kaspersky Lab was co-founded by Natalia Kaspersky and Eugene Kaspersky and in Russia in the year 1997.
  • AV-TEST announced that their database hosted 98,428 different malware samples, in 1999.

Period of Antivirus between 2000-2005

  • Howard Fuhs and Rainer Link initiated open source antivirus engine for the first time, termed as OpenAntivirus Project, in 2000.
  • ClamAV, an open source antivirus engine, a first of its kind to get commercialized was released by Tomasz Kojm in 2001.
  • Sourcefire bought ClamAV, in 2007, later acquired by Cisco Systems in 2013.
  • Theis Søndergaard and Morten Lund founded BullGuard, a security firm, in the United Kingdom, in 2002.
  • AV-TEST announced that it has hosted 333,425 different malware samples, in its database, in 2005.

2005 to present

  • A huge flow of viruses have been released due to the always-on connections of broadband, and hence the need of frequent antivirus update has become more important.
  • AV-TEST announced that it has hosted 5,490,960 new different malware samples in its database only for the year 2007.
  • Malware samples ranging from 300.000 to 500.000 were hosted in the database per day between 2012 and 2013.

With all the new kinds of malware evolving every day, antivirus companies are extensively working and performing research on complicated algorithms to implement advanced technology to defeat even the most complex malware.

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