Internet and computer security are linked concepts for any person who owns a computer with Internet access. While the Internet can provide many tools to protect against hacking and viruses, it is also the primary source of these major computer security threats. Attaching a computer to the Internet introduces greatly increased risks for security breaches. Nevertheless, Internet and computer security can both be improved through precautionary measures, such as anti-virus protection, firewalls, and Internet safety techniques.
Computer security helps protect personal data and information from being viewed or uploaded by unauthorized users. In a computer that does not have an Internet connection, most security precautions will revolve around preventing access to a user that physically takes over the computer. Password protection and encryption programs are two types of computer security that prevent a thief or unauthorized user from getting at information stored on a computer. Once a computer is hooked up to the Internet, however, threats become far more prevalent and complicated. In addition to password protection and encryption, Internet-using computers may require many additional programs and procedures in order to provide adequate protection from hackers and viruses.
Good Internet and computer security will help prevent hackers from accessing computer files. One primary method for hacking prevention is a hardware or software program known as a firewall. Firewalls are a type of customizable protection, which acts as a checkpoint for all incoming and outgoing information on a computer or network. If a piece of information does not conform to a firewall's settings, it will not be permitted to pass through the system without permission. Most modern operating systems provide a built-in firewall, but external applications can also be purchased for those who wish supplemental firewall protection.
Internet and computer security also aim to protect a network from viruses, which are user-created programs that can perform specific, often harmful, actions if they are accidentally downloaded. Viruses can be used to gain information for identity theft, allow hackers to send spam using a victim's email contacts, or perform needlessly destructive acts, such as erasing a hard drive. Anti-virus programs, which can be purchased or downloaded free online, help find and eliminate viruses before they can do any harm. Anti-virus programs tend to run continuously, so that all data is routinely checked for potential threats.
One of the most important principles of both Internet and computer security is intelligent user behavior. In addition to installing strong firewalls and anti-virus programs, it is important to use caution when using the Internet, just as when entering credit card information. Users should never download email attachments from strangers, and keep all accounts and sensitive computer data protected with strong, complex passwords. In addition, setting anti-virus programs to scan regularly and update automatically can help keep existing protection precautions up-to-date and functional.