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Heuristic detection is generic detection designed to detect new or previously unseen malware. Heuristic scanning methods vary widely and may range from simply scanning the file more intensively to emulating the file's activities in a virtual sandbox.

Because heuristic detection can be rather generic, it may be prone to false positives. To minimize the risks of false positives, some vendors may employ whitelisting.

While heuristics can be useful for detection and prevention of new malware, heuristics are not generally adept at disinfection.

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