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Heuristic

Community Veteran
Posts: 7,183
Thanks: 56
Fixes: 2
Registered: 30-08-2007

Heuristic

For some time now I've pondered what the term "heuristic" means in relation to virus scanning....it can be found in the McAfee anti virus programme (customise settings/advanced) I suppose it can be found in other programmes as well, but McAfee is the only one I have experience of.

Now I thought I had a fairly wide knowledge of the English language, but I had to resort to my Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, which defines heuristic as:
-serving or leading to find out: encouraging the desire to find out (of method, argument) depending on assumptions based on past experience: consisting of guided trial and error-

And it goes on in much the same vein for several definitions, none of which seem to relate to the words' use in the context of setting up ones desired settings for anti-virus (I doubt if a later 21st century copy of the dictionary would have helped much more)

So can somebody tell me (dare I say us) what this actually means in virus scanning, and whether I (we) should tick the box or not?
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
5 REPLIES
michaelscott
Grafter
Posts: 594
Registered: 09-08-2007

Heuristic

Quote
serving or leading to find out: encouraging the desire to find out (of method, argument) depending on assumptions based on past experience: consisting of guided trial and error


it actually does make sense in the context of virus scanning. heuristic scanning scans files for virus-like behaviours rather than comparing them against known viruses in a database.

For example, if it found a file that:
1. emailed itself to everyone in your address book and
2. wiped your C: drive

it would probably be a virus.
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,183
Thanks: 56
Fixes: 2
Registered: 30-08-2007

Heuristic

Thank you for that Mike.

I wonder why McAfee didn't just say that, rather than use a term that I bet few understand, and even fewer are honest enough to put their hands up to admitting.

So I should tick the box?

Peter
(life long supporter of the plain english brigade)
(and once awarded as part of a team: a Crystal Clear award)
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
michaelscott
Grafter
Posts: 594
Registered: 09-08-2007

Heuristic

Yeah, turning on heuristics is a good idea.
N/A

Heuristic

You may get false alerts with it enabled though. Depends how fine tuned their engine is.
N/A

Heuristic

Slows your PC down too! - can have a massive effect if "Scan all files" is also enabled along with other options.

Ah well safety comes at a price.

Tim