These 4 Antivirus Tools Are Using AI to Protect Your System

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The future of antivirus protection is exciting. Much like our cars, trains, and boats, the future of antivirus runs on artificial intelligence. AI technology is one of the fastest growing sectors around the world and security researchers are continually evaluating and integrating the technology into their consumer products. Consumer antivirus products with AI or machine learning elements are appearing thick and fast. Does your next antivirus subscription need to include AI, or is it just another security buzzword? Let’s take a look. Traditional Antivirus vs. AI Antivirus The term “artificial intelligence” once conjured fantastical images of futuristic technology, but AI…

Read the full article: These 4 Antivirus Tools Are Using AI to Protect Your System

antivirus-soft-use-ai

The future of antivirus protection is exciting. Much like our cars, trains, and boats, the future of antivirus runs on artificial intelligence. AI technology is one of the fastest growing sectors around the world and security researchers are continually evaluating and integrating the technology into their consumer products.

Consumer antivirus products with AI or machine learning elements are appearing thick and fast. Does your next antivirus subscription need to include AI, or is it just another security buzzword? Let’s take a look.

Traditional Antivirus vs. AI Antivirus

The term “artificial intelligence” once conjured fantastical images of futuristic technology, but AI is now a reality. To understand what AI antivirus is, you need to understand how traditional antivirus works.

Traditional Antivirus

A traditional antivirus uses file and data signatures, and pattern analysis to compare potential malicious activity to previous instances. That is, the antivirus knows what the malicious file looks like, and can move swiftly to stop those files from infecting your system, should you pick one up. That’s a very basic explanation. You can read more about how it works and what scans to use right here.

The antivirus on your system works well, don’t get me wrong. However, the number of malware attacks continues to rise, and security researchers regularly discover extremely advanced malware variants, such as Mylobot. Furthermore, some traditional or legacy antivirus solutions cannot compete with advanced threats such as the devastating WannaCry ransomworm, or the Petya ransomware that encrypts your Master Boot Record.

As the threat landscape shifts, so must the antivirus detection mechanisms.

AI Antivirus

AI antivirus (or in some cases, machine learning—more on this distinction in a moment) works differently. There are a few different approaches, but AI antivirus learns about specific threats within its network environment and executes defensive activities without prompt.

AI and machine learning antivirus leverage sophisticated mathematical algorithms combined with the data from other deployments to understand what the baseline of security is for a given system. As well as this, they learn how to react to files that step outside that window of normal functionality.

Machine Learning vs. Artificial Intelligence

Another important distinction in the future of antivirus is between machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence. The two words are sometimes used interchangeably but are not the same thing.

Machine learning and AI are deeply intertwined, and you can see how the terms see occasional misuse. The difference in meaning with regards to antivirus is an important distinction. Most (if not all) of the latest antivirus suites implement some form of machine learning, but some algorithms are more advanced than others.

Machine learning in antivirus technologies isn’t new. It is getting more intelligent, and is easier to use as a marketing tool now that the wider public is more aware of ML and AI.

How Security Companies Use AI in Antivirus

There are a few antivirus solutions that use advanced algorithms to protect your system, but the use of true AI is still rare. Still, there are several antivirus tools with excellent AI and ML implementations that show how the security industry is evolving to protect you from the latest threats.

1. Cylance Smart Antivirus

Cylance is a well-known name in machine learning and artificial intelligence cybersecurity. The enterprise-grade CylancePROTECT uses AI-techniques to protect a huge number of businesses, and they count several Fortune 100 organizations among their clientele. Cylance Smart Antivirus is their first foray into consumer antivirus products, bringing that enterprise-level AI protection into your home.

Cylance Smart Antivirus relies entirely on AI and ML to distinguish malware from legitimate data. The result is an antivirus that doesn’t bog your system down by constantly scanning and analyzing files. (Or informing you of its status every 15-minutes.) Rather, Cylance Smart Antivirus waits until the moment of execution and immediately kills the threat—without human intervention.

“Consumers deserve security software that is fast, easy to use, and effective,” said Christopher Bray, senior vice president, Cylance Consumer. “The consumer antivirus market is long overdue for a ground-breaking solution built on robust technology that allows them to control their security environment.”

Smart Antivirus does, however, have some downsides. Unlike other antivirus suites with active monitoring, Cylance Smart Antivirus allows you to visit potentially malicious sites. I assume this is confidence that the product will stop malicious downloads, but it doesn’t protect against phishing attacks or similar threats.

A single Cylance Smart Antivirus license costs $29 per year, while a $69 household pack lets you install on five different systems.

2. Deep Instinct D-Client

Deep Instinct uses deep learning (a machine learning technique) to detect “any file before it is accessed or executed” on your system. The Deep Instinct D-Client makes use of static file analysis in conjunction with a threat prediction model that allows it to eliminate malware and other system threats autonomously.

Deep Instinct’s D-Client uses vast quantities of raw data to continue improving its detection algorithms. Deep Instinct is one of the only companies with private deep learning infrastructure dedicated to improving their detection accuracy, too.

3. Avast Free Antivirus

For most people, Avast is a familiar name in security. Avast Free Antivirus is the most popular antivirus on the market, and its history of protections goes back decades. Avast Free Antivirus has been “using AI and machine learning for years” to protect users from evolving threats. In 2012, the Avast Research Lab announced three powerful backend tools for their products.

  • The “Malware Similarity Search” allows almost instantaneous categorization of huge samples of incoming malware. Avast Free Antivirus quickly analyzes similarities between existing malware files using both static and dynamic analysis.
  • “Evo-Gen” is similar “but a bit subtler in nature.” Evo-Gen is a genetic algorithm that works to find short and generic descriptions of malware in massive datasets.
  • “MDE” is a database that works on top of the indexed data, allowing heavy parallel access.

These three machine learning technologies collectively evolved as the foundation for Avast’s CyberCapture.

CyberCapture is a core feature of the Avast security suite, specifically targeting unknown malware and zero-days. When an unknown suspicious file enters a system, CyberCapture activates and immediately isolates the host system. The suspect file automatically uploads to an Avast cloud server for data analysis. Afterwards, the user receives a positive or negative notification regarding the status of the file. All the while, your data is feeding back into the algorithms to define further and enhance yours and others’ system security.

Download: Avast Free Antivirus for Windows | Mac | Linux
Download: Avast Mobile Security for Android

4. Windows Defender Security Center

The Windows Defender Security Center for enterprise and business solutions will receive a phenomenal boost as Microsoft turns to artificial intelligence to bulk out its security. The 2017 WannaCry ransomworm ripped through Windows systems after hackers released a CIA trove of zero-day vulnerabilities into the wild.

Microsoft is creating a 400 million computer-strong machine learning network to build its next generation of security tools. The new AI-backed security features will start with its enterprise customers, but eventually filter down to Windows 10 systems for regular consumers. Windows Defender is constantly improving in other ways, too, and is now one of the top enterprise and consumer security solutions. The below image illustrates a snapshot of how Windows Defender machine learning protections works.

microsoft windows defender machine learning

Want a prime example of how machine learning antivirus springs into action? Randy Treit, a senior security researcher for Windows Defender Research, writes up the Bad Rabbit ransomware detection example. It’s worth a read (it’s short!).

Antivirus: More Advanced Than You Realized

Is your antivirus suite more advanced than you realized? Machine learning and artificial intelligence are undoubtedly making larger inroads with security products. But their current prominence is more buzzword than effective deployment.

Try not to worry too much about whether your antivirus has AI or is implementing machine learning techniques. In the meantime, here’s a comparison of the best free antivirus products for you to check out. AI or not, it is important to protect your system at all times.

Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Depositphotos

Read the full article: These 4 Antivirus Tools Are Using AI to Protect Your System

How to Remove Android Viruses Without a Factory Reset

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Desktops aren’t the only devices that pick up viruses. While it’s not a common occurrence, Android devices can indeed suffer from malware. If you do get a virus, you could perform a factory reset to get rid of it, but that means you’d lose all your data. Your photos, saved games, text messages, and everything else will be gone if you didn’t back them up. Obviously, a factory reset should be your last option. So what can you do to remove a phone virus without a factory reset? Let’s find out. Does My Android Phone Have a Virus? Many times,…

Read the full article: How to Remove Android Viruses Without a Factory Reset

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Desktops aren’t the only devices that pick up viruses. While it’s not a common occurrence, Android devices can indeed suffer from malware.

If you do get a virus, you could perform a factory reset to get rid of it, but that means you’d lose all your data. Your photos, saved games, text messages, and everything else will be gone if you didn’t back them up. Obviously, a factory reset should be your last option.

So what can you do to remove a phone virus without a factory reset? Let’s find out.

Does My Android Phone Have a Virus?

Many times, when people think they have an Android virus, it’s actually something more docile.

Suppose your Android phone crashes every time it starts up. Or maybe you can’t download apps from the Play Store. These are not necessarily caused by a virus. So don’t panic! Check our list of common Android problems and how to fix them.

If none of those tips fix your issue, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Did the problem start happening after you downloaded some app or file?
  2. Have you recently sideloaded an app from a third-party source (outside the Play Store)?
  3. Did you tap on an ad that downloaded a file or app you didn’t want?
  4. Does the problem occur only when you run a particular app?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, there’s a chance you have malware on your system. Thankfully, you might be able to fix it without a factory reset.

How to Stay Safe From Android Viruses

Google Play Protect is now part of all Android devices. It’s a built-in security measure that scans the apps on your device and checks for harmful ones. No matter where you install apps from, Play Protect looks through them. This means you essentially already have an antivirus built into your phone.

If you only install apps from Google Play, the chances of you picking up a phone virus are slim to none. Google scans all apps added to Google Play for malicious behavior and removes offenders. While some slip through the cracks, you’re very unlikely to install a virus app from the Play Store.

Installing from other sources is entirely different. Downloading apps from random websites, especially “cracked” apps (paid offerings illegally provided for free), is a great way to pick up malware. If you chose to sideload apps, make certain that you trust the location you download them from.

However, this doesn’t mean every app on Google Play is beneficial. Scam apps might take your money for nothing, and many free apps abuse phone permissions to steal your data. But those are separate concerns from Android viruses.

Like on other platforms, common sense will help you avoid a virus. Don’t download from shady websites, try to avoid tapping on ads, and keep an eye on app permissions.

Android Virus Removal Apps

The Play Store is home to dozens of Android virus removal apps. However, most of them are bloated and want you to pay for features you don’t need. However, there are a few worth using.

If you think you’re infected with Android malware, it’s not a bad idea to install one of the below apps and scan. You don’t need to keep it around afterwards if you follow the common sense tips above.

Malwarebytes

One of the most trusted names in desktop security, Malwarebytes also provides an Android app. The free version scans your phone for malware and removes any threats it finds. It also has an audit feature for app permissions, so you can keep track of what each has access to. And it doesn’t have ads either.

The Premium version for $12/year adds real-time detection and other features most people don’t need. For a no-nonsense virus scanner and remover app for Android, it’s your best bet.

Download: Malwarebytes Security (Free, subscription available)

Bitdefender Antivirus Free

Bitdefender is another solid virus removal app, mainly because it’s lightweight. Cloud scanning means there’s little impact on your device, and the app doesn’t bog down its core offering with a bunch of annoying extras.

You’ll still see ads to upgrade to the full version, but if you can ignore them, this is a fine app for a quick Android virus scan.

Download: Bitdefender Antivirus (Free)

Android Antivirus Apps to Avoid

These are only two of the many Android virus scanning apps, but you can ignore nearly all other ones. Offerings from major companies like Avast, Norton, Avira, and similar are all loaded with garbage and are heavy on your system.

Many pack in RAM boosters and cleaning tools, which do more harm than good. And a lot of the functionality they tout is already built into Android. Browsers like Chrome already detect and block dangerous websites. Google’s Find My Phone feature can locate your lost phone. And you can manage app permissions on your own.

Security companies try to scare you into downloading their free apps for “safety,” then nag you to upgrade to the paid version with a bunch of features you don’t need. Know that you should never pay for an Android antivirus app!

Manual Malware Removal in Android Safe Mode

Hopefully, an antivirus scan should find and remove the malware on your Android device. But if that doesn’t get the job done, then it’s onto a manual step.

Much like Windows has a safe mode, so does Android. And if your system has a virus, you’ll need to utilize it. Safe mode loads the OS without running any third-party apps and disables them. This means that you can find out if an app is causing an issue and remove it safely.

Android Reboot into safe mode

To enter into safe mode if you can boot your phone normally:

  1. Press and hold the Power button till you see the power menu.
  2. Tap and hold Power off until you get a prompt to Reboot to safe mode.
  3. Tap OK.
  4. Wait for your phone to reboot. In the bottom-left corner, you’ll see a Safe mode watermark.

If your phone won’t boot normally because of the infection, try these steps to boot a powered-off phone into safe mode:

  1. Press and hold the Power, Volume up, and Volume down buttons.
  2. Once you see your phone’s logo appear, let go of Power but continue holding the Volume buttons.
  3. You’ll see a Safe mode watermark in the bottom-left once your device boots up.

Due to hardware manufacturer differences, this may not work for every device. Try a quick Google search for your phone to find its safe mode combination if neither of these do the trick.

Once you have entered Safe Mode, go to Settings > Apps > Downloaded. On Android Oreo or newer, go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all X apps instead.

Here, go through the list of your apps and try to location the malicious app. It might not stick out, but think back to when the problem on your phone started. Remove any apps you installed around that time, and check if an app you didn’t download is in the list.

Android Safe Mode

To uninstall an app, tap its name and choose Uninstall on its info page to remove it. If that gets rid of it, reboot your phone normally (without entering Safe mode), and the phone virus should be gone.

If you can’t uninstall an app through this menu, it likely has Device Administrator access. To remove that access, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Security > Device Administrators (Settings > Security & location > Device admin apps on Oreo and newer).
  2. Locate the app and tap the checkbox next to it.
  3. Tap Deactivate when prompted.

Now you can go back to the list of apps and uninstall it as described above.

Android Phone Virus Aftermath: Cleaning Up

After uninstalling malicious apps, you might also want to clean up your Android device while you’re at it. Clearing the cache and history, cleaning up the startup processes, and other basic steps can assist in making sure your device is good to go.

Unfortunately, Android cleaning apps are typically full of junk, ads, and placebos. Follow our guide to cleaning your Android phone to make it easy. If you want a one-tap solution, CCleaner is a good app for removing unnecessary files without any fuss. It’s unfortunately added some bloat recently, but it still works well enough.

Once you’ve cleaned up your phone, we recommend you back up your Android data if you haven’t already. This will make it much easier to recover from future issues when they arise.

Kick Android Viruses to the Curb!

Unfortunately, if you’re sure you have malware on your device but none of the above solutions fix it, you’ll likely have to factory reset your phone. If you experience issues in safe mode, your problem may lie with the OS or hardware, not a virus.

A reset means you will lose precious data, but that’s better than using a compromised phone. For the best security, make sure you also know how to upgrade your Android phone!

Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Read the full article: How to Remove Android Viruses Without a Factory Reset