As computer viruses, spyware and other malicious electronic activities have become more commonplace, many types of computer security tools have been developed to protect systems from unwanted intrusions. Computer users can choose from firewalls, antivirus software and spyware blockers to help find and eliminate harmful code. Concerned users also may wish to use online password generation and retrieval services or authenticators to help protect online accounts from being compromised. Many businesses require a higher level of security for sensitive data and may hire a staff of electronic security professionals or bring in consultants to help install and maintain a secure network.
Since the advent of networked computing, viruses have been a persistent threat to the security and reliability of computer systems. While most viruses are spread through the Internet and other networks, they also can reside on removable storage devices such as compact disks (CD) and universal serial bus (USB) devices. Security experts have designed computer security tools known as anti-virus programs to find and eliminate electronic viruses from computers. These programs function by scanning the files on a computer and comparing them to a library of known viruses. The viruses are then quarantined and deleted from the system.
Adware and spyware detection software works in a similar manner to antivirus programs, but these computer security tools focus on finding and removing programs that track user activity or force users to look at unwanted advertising. These programs typically scan a smaller area of a user’s hard drive and can be set to run continuously to block malicious code from websites. These tools are often free, prompting many users to use more than one type of spyware detector on their computer for added security.
In addition to these detection programs, many systems are protected from unwanted intrusion by computer security tools known as firewalls. These tools work by filtering the type of content that is allowed to pass through to the computer and blocking unwanted connections. The firewall may be present within the computer’s operating system or as part of a network router’s firmware. Most networks should have at least one firewall layer in place to help protect them from unauthorized entry.
As more and more financial activity takes place through electronic mediums, many users have had their passwords stolen and online accounts hacked. Many users have difficulty creating and remembering strong passwords, so some companies offer online services that will generate unique passwords and store them for the user. Other companies provide authenticators that work in combination with a password system to verify the user’s identity. These computer security tools are useful for consumers who have many online accounts or need extra security to protect their assets.