Anti-virus software

Viruses, spyware and other malicious software or malicious code (malware) can stop your computer working properly, delete or corrupt your files, steal information, or allow others to access your computer and your personal or business information.

You can help protect yourself from some malware by using anti-virus software. Use this guidance to learn more about malware and using anti-virus software.

Remember: Install anti-virus software on all devices and set the software to automatically check for updates on a daily basis.

Learn about malicious software (malware)

Your computer can be infected by malware in a number of ways including:

  • clicking on false website links
  • visiting websites that have been infected by malware
  • downloading infected apps and files from the internet, or
  • opening infected email attachments.

The consequences of a malware infection can be serious and far-reaching – from losing access to your files to becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud.

Protect yourself by using anti-virus software

One of the best ways to protect yourself from malware is to detect risky content to avoid being infected, and you can help do that by using anti-virus software and practicing safe behaviour online.

Anti-virus software monitors and protects computers and other devices (like smartphones and tablets) from infection. Anti-virus software must be updated regularly in order to recognise the latest threats, and should do this automatically.

When you first install anti-virus software on a device, run a 'full scan' of the system to ensure there are no pre-existing virus infections, and then set up regular scans.

Choosing anti-virus software

Anti-virus solutions differ in effectiveness and the range of malware types they cover. However, at a minimum, all anti-virus software should provide:

  • protection and detection capabilities for malware, adware and spyware
  • comprehensive anti-virus scanning.

Some anti-virus products may also include:

  • a site advisor so your browser alerts you when visiting a suspicious or dangerous website
  • malware protection with an integrated firewall. (If you install an anti-virus product with firewall functionality, you may need to disable your operating system's inbuilt firewall. See your anti-virus and operating system vendor for more details).

Before choosing an anti-virus product, consider reviews on reputable and trustworthy websites or in magazines.

Further tips for businesses

If you or your employees work from home or bring personal devices into work, make sure you have copies of your business anti-malware or anti-virus software for those devices; or make it a requirement that employees have this protection installed on any device used to access business information.