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You can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim by taking a layered approach to online safety by using firewalls, antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software.
A firewall controls how information moves between a computer and a network to help ensure that only legitimate traffic takes place. A firewall also disguises and hides the presence of computers behind it, making it more difficult for potential intruders to find and attack them.
Hardware firewalls can be effective with little or no configuration. Typically found in broadband routers, these are considered an important part of system and network set-up, especially for anyone on a broadband connection. Software firewalls can be installed on your computer, allowing you to customize how they function and help protect your computer.
You should use both a hardware firewall and a software firewall on your own computer at all times- especially if you are using always-on broadband Internet access, because your computer is always connected to the Internet and that means you are constantly exposed to attacks from hackers and worms.
Antivirus software is designed to identify and eliminate viruses from your computer. It does this by monitoring any unusual changes or attempts to copy data from one program to another, and then compares these to known viruses. Antivirus software helps protect your computer from any malicious code you may have downloaded accidentally; however, it will not protect you from hackers attempting to access your computer remotely- for that you need a firewall.
To make sure antivirus is effective, you need to update your antivirus software regularly. Just having antivirus software on your computer isn't enough. You should also keep it updated so that your computer can recognize new viruses, because they are constantly being created.
Spyware is software that is used to "spy" on your computer. It gives people the ability to see what you are doing and it can adversely affect your computer's performance. Anti-spyware software is software that scans your computer to detect and remove spyware. Anti-spyware software helps protect your computer from spyware you may have downloaded accidentally; however, it will not protect your computer from viruses - for that you need antivirus software.
Many Internet scams today involve email messages that appear to come from a trusted source, but are in fact not trustworthy. Additionally, email attachments can be harmful because they can contain viruses. Anti-spam software is software that scans your email to detect and remove spam. It helps protect you by reducing the likelihood that you'll fall prey to forged messages and bogus offers; however, it will not protect your computer from viruses- for that you need antivirus software.