How does Windows Defender scan my computer for malicious software?

Windows Defender is a security program included with Microsoft Windows that is designed to protect your computer from malicious software, or malware. It runs regularly scheduled scans of your hard drives for known threats, and can also be configured to scan for rarer or unknown threats. Windows Defender is designed to detect and remove programs that may be malicious or unwanted.

Windows Defender’s signature-based detection feature is based on a list of known malicious programs, which is kept up-to-date by Microsoft servers. When it finds new versions of these threats, it will alert the user and attempt to remove it. These signature-based scans are highly accurate and effective at detecting many types of malware.

Windows Defender also includes a behavior-based analysis system to help detect more recent or rarer threats. This system can detect anomalies in system behavior, such as when programs start acting strangely or accessing files they shouldn’t be. If this behavior is deemed to be malicious, Windows Defender can block the program and alert the user.

Windows Defender also includes several other features that help to protect your device from malicious activity. This includes Network Inspection system which scans incoming network traffic for signs of malicious activity, and an Application Guard system that runs a virtual machine to run potentially dangerous programs in an isolated environment.

Other features include a SmartScreen filter that helps block phishing websites and malicious downloads, as well as an Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) which helps to further protect your PC from exploitation.

To ensure that Windows Defender is running, you should check its settings in the Control Panel (under System and Security) and make sure that it is enabled and set to run automatically on a regular basis. You should also ensure that the latest definition updates are installed by checking the Windows Update page.

If you have installed any other antivirus or anti-malware programs on your computer, you should make sure that they are all up-to-date and not conflicting with Windows Defender in any way. If there are any conflicts, they should be resolved as soon as possible.

Finally, it is important to keep your computer up-to-date. Make sure that your operating system, applications, and utilities are all running the latest version available, as older versions can often contain security vulnerabilities.

In summary, Windows Defender is a powerful security program that can help protect your computer from malicious software. It uses signature-based detection to look for known threats, and behavior-based analysis to look for newer or rarer threats. It also includes several other features such as a network inspector, application guard, smartscreen filter, and EMET. To ensure that Windows Defender is running efficiently, you should regularly check its settings and make sure that it is enabled and up-to-date. Additionally, you should keep your computer up-to-date and make sure that any other antivirus or anti-malware programs installed on your system are not conflicting with Windows Defender.