What is antivirus software?


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What is antivirus software?

a shield with a tick on it

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Antivirus software plays an important role in helping to protect your computer and keeping the files you store on it safe.

This activity will teach you about how antivirus software works, where you get it, and how you can use it.

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What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software is a special kind of computer program that helps detect and remove viruses you might accidentally download.

If you accidentally download a virus, your antivirus program will pop up and tell you that you've downloaded something dangerous. It will then ask if you want to delete it.

Antivirus software can also tell you if a website is safe to visit. If a particular website is safe, you will have a tick or an OK next to it.

antivirus software locating a virus under a microscope
three reputable antivirus software providers

Where do I get antivirus software?

You can download antivirus software from the official website of the company that makes it, or you can buy it from a shop. There are many different antivirus programs available and most offer a 30-day free trial. Some reputable examples include:

Does my computer already have antivirus software?

If you have a Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer and keep the operating software up to date, it already has Microsoft Defender (also referred to as Windows Defender) antivirus software built in. You can learn more about Microsoft Defender in the Windows laptop: Security and privacy and Windows desktop: Security and privacy courses.

Apple computers don't come with in-built antivirus software, but most antivirus software has versions for Windows and Apple computers, so you can still download additional protection for your device.

a protective shield with a free tag on it
a threat detection notification

Using antivirus software

Antivirus software usually doesn't require that you do anything with it other than install it on your computer. It just sits in the background and monitors your computer for viruses and other unwanted software. Most of the time, you won't even know it's there. It only appears if it needs to warn you about a virus.

Installing antivirus software is straight forward. Simply follow the prompts on the website to safely install the antivirus protection onto your device.

Well done!

You've completed the What is antivirus software? activity. You’ve learned how antivirus software helps protect your computer or device, and where to get antivirus software.

In the next activity, Types of documents, we're going to look at different types of downloads, in particular document downloads, and how you use them.

a man at peace thinking about his antivirus protection