Privacy software refers to computer programs designed to help ensure the privacy and security of a user’s information and data. This can include software that helps protect a computer from malicious software (malware), prevent websites from accessing sensitive or private information, and maintain the privacy and security of a user’s computer. These programs can take a variety of forms and provide various levels of online privacy.
Malware generally refers to computer programs that are intended for use by either causing harmful effects to another computer or program or gaining access to private and otherwise sensitive information on a computer. They can include viruses and Trojans designed to make a user’s computer difficult to use or inoperable, adware intended to swarm a computer user with advertisements for various websites, or keylogging software that records the keystrokes of a computer user. Regardless of the intended purpose of a program, having malware on a computer can be both disruptive and provide potential access of sensitive information to someone unauthorized to view the material.
Privacy software is created in an effort to combat these various types of programs, or to prevent more direct unauthorized computer usage. Something as simple as a username and password used to log onto a computer can be considered a form of privacy software. While it may not stop malware or Internet attacks on a computer, it can help prevent unauthorized users from manually using a computer and accessing the data stored on it.
Other types of privacy software include antivirus programs intended to detect, quarantine, and remove malware from a computer or similar device. Viruses and Trojans can be used to give remote access of a computer to someone other than an authorized user. They may also gather data and transmit that information to a specific Internet protocol (IP) address, which is then received by someone other than the authorized user. By blocking, detecting, removing, and otherwise protecting a user and a computer from such programs, antivirus programs help ensure the privacy of a computer user and the user’s information.
There are also a number of programs used “behind the scenes” of many Internet services intended to ensure data privacy. These types of privacy software are often utilized by businesses that host email and other web-based services to help maintain user and Internet privacy. Often taking the form of encryption services, such programs attempt to ensure that if any data transmitted through the Internet is received or intercepted by an unauthorized user, the data will be encrypted and illegible to that user.