Antivirus Software and Firewalls
These days almost everyone uses the internet on a regular basis, whether at home, work or on the go. The internet is a tremendously valuable resource; as the number of people accessing the internet grows, so do the risks associated with it. Regardless of whether you are accessing the internet for personal or professional purposes, it is imperative to ensure you are doing so safely.
Two vital components to protect yourself and your system online are an effective anti-virus and a firewall.
Anti-virus software is your primary defense against malicious threats online and offline. An anti-virus runs in the background of your computer, quietly checking every file that is accessed, monitoring for threats (this is often referred to as ‘real-time protection’). Your anti-virus runs these files through its database, checking against known viruses and other malware. Because of this method, it is very important that you regularly check for updates with your anti-virus software or set it to auto-update.
Anti-virus software can also perform a ‘full system scan’, where it will scan the selected locations to ensure there is no malware lying dormant. Full system scans are typically used when initially installing the software, or when you think your computer is acting up and something could have slipped through the cracks of your real-time protection.
In the most basic sense, a firewall is a barrier to keep damage away from your property – hence the name firewall. A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that sits between your computer or private network and the internet. Its job is to filter information (packets) coming through your connection, and if need be, reject them. A firewall gives you several options to establish rules to identify the traffic allowed in and out of your network, whether restricted by IP, certain ports or through application filtering amongst others.
By rejecting this unwanted traffic, the firewall prevents those with malicious intent being able to probe your network and attempt to cause damage by stealing information, uploading malware, performing denial of service attacks, using remote login, source routing and more.
Firewalls are effective at protecting your system from unauthorized entry, but they are not capable of removing malware from an already infected system – therefore firewalls should always be used in conjunction with some form of anti-virus software, ensuring that both are always up to date.
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