Security strategies are constantly changing, as are the technologies used to secure equipment and data. New exploits are discovered daily. Attackers constantly look for new ways to infiltrate computers and networks. Software manufacturers must regularly create and dispense new patches to fix flaws and vulnerabilities in products. If a computer is left unprotected by a technician, an attacker can gain access. Unprotected computers on the Internet often become infected within a few minutes.

Threats to security from viruses and worms are always present. Because new viruses are always being developed, security software must be continually updated. This process can be performed automatically, but a technician should know how to manually update any type of protection software and all customer application programs.

Virus, spyware, and adware detection programs look for patterns in the programming code of the software in a computer. These patterns are determined by analyzing viruses that are intercepted on the Internet and on LANs. These code patterns are called signatures. The publishers of protection software compile the signatures into virus definition tables. To update signature files for antivirus and antispyware software, first check to see if the signature files are the most recent files. You can check the file status by navigating to the About option of the protection software or by launching the update tool for the protection software.

To update signature file, follow these steps:

Step 1. Create a Windows Restore Point. If the file you load is corrupt, setting a restore point allows you to go back to the way things were.

Step 2. Open the antivirus or antispyware program. If the program is set to execute or obtain updates automatically, you may need to turn the automatic feature off to perform these steps manually.

Step 3. Select the Update button.

Step 4. After the program is updated, use it to scan the computer.

Step 5. When the scan is complete, check the report for viruses or other problems that could not be treated and delete them yourself.

Step 6. Set the antivirus or antispyware program to automatically update and run on a scheduled basis.

Always retrieve the signature files from the manufacturer’s website to make sure the update is authentic and not corrupted by viruses. This can put great demand on the manufacturer’s website, especially when new viruses are released. To avoid creating too much traffic at a single website, some manufacturers distribute their signature files for download to multiple download sites. These download sites are called mirrors.

CAUTION: When downloading signature files from a mirror, ensure that the mirror site is a legitimate site. Always link to the mirror site from the manufacturer’s website.