Three basic ‘dos’ of online security

  1. Run an antivirus program all the time to protect yourself from harmful software.
  2. Run a firewall program all the time to avert harmful network traffic.
  3. Keep all your software – including your antivirus and firewall programs – up to date. This ensures that you are using the latest security features.

On most computers, a security breach could lead to exposure of confidential information, such as banking credentials, credit card numbers and address book contents. But even if you do not feel you have any information of value to an attacker, you are still responsible for preventing criminals from using your computer and your Internet connectivity to commit fraud or to launch attacks on other computers. Such crimes hurt third parties and may incriminate you.

Remember to ‘be careful out there’ on the net. Security software cannot protect you from all threats but may save the situation should you make a mistake.

Frequent features of security software

Antivirus

Antivirus programs are designed to prevent malicious software from being executed on your computer or smartphone. They can identify dangerous files such as viruses, worms and Trojans by using pattern matching (looking for virus signature strings), heuristic analysis (looking for code that appears harmful) and sandboxing (executing the file in an isolated environment and looking for adverse effects).

Anti-spyware

Spyware is software that collects information for unauthorised parties. Key loggers, which capture passwords and other information that you type, are one form of spyware. Some antivirus programs include spyware protection, but there are also dedicated anti-spyware tools.

Firewall

Firewalls restrict traffic between your computer or smartphone and the network. They allow authorised access (such as your using email and browsing the Web) while blocking any connections that have not explicitly been allowed. One of the most important tasks of a firewall is to avert unauthorised inbound connections that may be used to examine your system and exploit vulnerabilities. A firewall can also prevent malicious software from making outbound connections.

Anti-spam

Anti-spam software is designed to keep junk email, such as unsolicited commercial email messages and phishing attempts, out of your mailboxes.

Parental control

As a parent or other guardian, you can use parental control (also called child lock , web filter  and Internet filter ) software to manage how children and adolescents can to use a computer or smartphone. For example, you can allow a child to use the device at certain times of the day and for a maximum time each day. You could also prevent children from accessing websites that depict e.g. gambling, horror, smoking or violence.

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