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It is highly recommended to keep your computer protection software up-to-date. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. You can buy stand-alone programs for each element or a security suite that includes these programs from a variety of sources, including commercial vendors or from your Internet Service Provider. Security software that comes pre-installed on a computer generally works for a short time unless you pay a subscription fee to keep it in effect.
Learn about the different types of software protection to strengthen your online security.
Anti-virus software protects your computer from viruses that can destroy your data, slow your computer's performance, cause a crash or even allow spammers to send email through your account. It works by scanning your computer and your incoming email for viruses and then deleting them.
Installed on your computer without your consent, spyware software monitors or controls your computer use. It may be used to send you pop-up ads, redirect your computer to websites, monitor your Internet surfing or record your keystrokes, which could lead to theft of your personal information. A computer may be infected with spyware if it:
A firewall helps keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. While anti-virus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for outside attempts to access your system and blocking communications to and from sources you don't permit.
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