By Dan Gookin

Windows provides support for both antivirus and antispyware security, in a single program called Windows Defender. It offers both active and passive protection, and it’s regularly updated with fresh information, thanks to the Windows Update process. Windows Defender is your number‐one tool in PC malware protection.

  • Windows Update must be active in order to keep current the Windows Defender malware definitions.
  • Yes, the malware landscape changes so often that weekly updates are necessary.
  • You can use Windows Defender in addition to third‐party antivirus software. You don’t really need additional antivirus protection, but if having it makes you feel better, use both tools.
  • The term computer virus originates from the 1973 movie Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton.

• The first computer virus was created back in the 1970s. Curiously enough, the second computer virus was created to track down and delete copies of the first computer virus. As the personal computer revolution caught fire in the mid‐1980s, computer viruses broke out all over. It was the perfect storm of people who failed to understand their computers, pirated software, the Internet, and human weakness.

Antivirus utilities such as Windows Defender feature two modes of operation:

Passive: In this mode, the program lurks in the background and monitors the computer’s activity, looking for malware.

Active: In this mode, the antivirus program probes all parts of the computer’s memory and storage system, looking for signs of infection. Active scans can be done manually, or they take place on a schedule.

When a virus or sign of infection is found, the antivirus software alerts you to its presence. The virus may be destroyed or the file quarantined for later examination.