Although the Internet can be used for many useful and educational endeavors, it can also be quite dangerous. Harmful software, also known as malware, can infest your computer, steal your information and even destroy your hard drive. Luckily, there are plenty of tools you can use to help bolster your security when going online.
The most basic security program is anti-virus software. Anti-virus software periodically downloads small components known as "definitions" from a server, that help it to identify viruses on your computer. Having anti-virus software on your computer is essential, as it will get rid of any malware accidentally downloaded, and hopefully prevent the malware from spreading on your computer. However, the disadvantage of anti-virus software is that it only deletes anti-virus software after it has been identified or downloaded, and does not prevent malware from being downloaded on your computer.
Unlike anti-virus software, a firewall can actually prevent malware from downloading to your computer. In addition, a good firewall can prevent unauthorized users from accessing a network, which can help increase corporate security. A firewall works by monitoring connections made to and from your computer. Any connection that is not part of a pre-defined or custom "white list" of approved connections is aborted automatically.
Pop-up blocking software is also an an essential component of your security scheme. Many viruses are delivered using this unfortunate mechanic, but you can stop these unauthorized windows and tabs from appearing with robust pop-up blocking software. Most modern pop-up blocking software integrates with your browser of choice as an extension to help stop pop-up windows at the source, before they have a chance to appear and possibly infect your computer.
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