A Brief History of Antivirus Software

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Antivirus software is one of the most important tools that businesses have in their cyber security arsenal. But how did we get to where we are today?

In this blog post, we will take a brief look at the history of antivirus and discuss some of the major milestones along the way. We will also explore how antivirus software has evolved over time and what kinds of threats it needs to combat today.

Ultimately, this post will help business owners understand why antivirus is so important and what they need to be aware of when it comes to viruses and other online threats.


Antivirus History: The First Antivirus Software

The world of computers in the 80s and 90s was much different than it is today. It was a relatively trusting environment; passwords weren’t used, and privacy and confidentiality weren’t issues yet.

But then the internet emerged — heralding a whole new era of computer networks that were connected to each other. Unfortunately, the perils of the internet also came with it, with numerous vulnerabilities exposed due to this greater connectivity.

Malware tools like Netbus and Back Orifice started cropping up; they were the first of their kind in cyber-security terms, laying down a blueprint that would be followed by countless others over the ensuing decades. The necessity for industry protection against such malicious malware necessitated corresponding technological advancements — namely, antivirus programs or AVs.

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These first-gen AVs adopted a fingerprint-detection system, inspecting data crossing CPU processors for potential threats before allowing executable programs to run (this system lasted until 2015). As these AVs grew more powerful over time, so did the increasingly sophisticated defense measures against malicious attackers.


The Inception and Growth of the Antivirus Software Industry

Symantec Norton’s introduction of the first marketed antivirus software was a boon for consumer security, however users soon began to notice an issue: it ran incredibly resource-heavy and was particularly expensive. Understandably, people sought other solutions that would be less taxing on their systems, but just as reliable.

This prompted companies like AVG, McAfee (created by John McAfee) and Kaspersky (from Eugene Kaspersky) to create their own competing antivirus software in order to meet growing consumer demands for a better product than Norton Antivirus which allowed for both a smoother operation as well as more reasonable prices.

Thankfully, this competition has enabled considerable progress in the industry with many options available to users nowadays.


The History of Antivirus in the 2000s

The 2000s saw a major shift in the threat landscape, with a wave of new threats requiring antivirus solutions to evolve and rise to the occasion. Ransomware attacks had become commonplace and criminals were increasingly leveraging self-replicating malicious software (we now know as malware) that could render all devices on a network unusable.

Additionally, national cyber-warfare attempts had become increasingly common, as were financial phishing scams that could bypass standard multi-factor authentication measures with disastrous results.

To respond to this dynamic threat environment, organizations increasingly rely on new strategies to protect operating systems and other devices connected to the internet by moving away from basic fingerprint detection into more powerful and comprehensive solutions specifically tailored for these modern threats.


Modern Antivirus Software

With the increasing interconnected nature of cyber attacks, modern antivirus software had to take on a new approach. It had to be one that acted as an effective anti-malware solution, was able to fight off evolving computer viruses and (hopefully) rapidly identify any and all infected computers on a network by scanning for virus signatures.

Enter Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR).

This approach looks at the entire ecosystem of tech in an effort to streamline virus detection by identifying malicious behaviors and stopping them from wreaking havoc.

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In the last few years (especially this year) the EDR approach easily generates hundreds and thousands of logs per computer per day. This preempted a new concern for antivirus companies: how to manage sifting through all of that log data.

Taking note of this, Managed Detection and Response (MDR) was born. 

Through Security Operation Centers (SOCs) and Security Incident and Event Management systems (SIEMs), powerful insights can be obtained from the abundance of data generated by EDR with regards to behavioral anomalies, whilst also alerting users as to which of their systems may or may not be secure and the measures they can take in order to become secure.


Antivirus Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

As technology continues to advance, Artificial Intelligence antivirus (AI) and Machine Learning antivirus are playing an increasingly important role in the future of AV software.

These new technologies are essential for staying ahead of a constantly evolving cyber security landscape.

XDR (eXtended Detection and Response), for example, takes EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) to the next level; where EDR monitors devices in your environment, XDR additionally considers any connected IoT systems such as projectors and access control on smart doors, which all require regular security updates.

With the growing widespread connectivity of our lives through multiple networks, closed-circuit cameras, PCs, laptops and mobile devices, it is more important than ever that we remain one step ahead in helping protect ourselves against malicious attackers.

AI and Machine Learning can help us stay on top of this dynamic roadblock between us and those with ill intentions.

History of antivirus


Choosing Fusion Computing for Your Antivirus and Cyber Security Needs

At Fusion Computing, we’re the experts more businesses trust to manage their antivirus and antimalware concerns.

Ensuring the protection of your data is paramount to us. That is why we go the extra mile and integrate advanced antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam technologies into your systems to detect potential threats monitored in our security operations center.

By monitoring any changes or updates, we can quickly become aware of vital security and compliance issues and take immediate action on resolution when needed. Rest assured that we are dedicated to keeping you informed and secure by providing these meticulous protocols.

To learn more about how we can help protect you from the dangers of malware and ransomware, schedule a free consultation with us today.