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There are many different types of online security software. Some of them come in a package of more than one type, while others can be purchased or downloaded separately to offer more customized protection. Software may include firewalls, anti-virus software, spam blockers, full security suites, and parental blocks. Each type is made specifically for a particular purpose, and choosing the right kind is key to keeping a computer fully protected.
Firewalls are a type of online security software that block particular sites or people from sending files to or from a computer. The most basic of these may only be able to block particular URL addresses, while others can block out entire sites based on content. Firewalls can also be installed to protect a network of computers, and can range in price from free to very expensive.
Basic anti-virus software is another type of online security software. There are generally various aspects to these programs, including built in firewalls and specified Internet protection features. Email filters and spam blockers are common features that are included, as well as Internet safety filters which prevent users from accidentally downloading malicious files or viruses to their computers.
Most computers sold today have some kind of anti-virus software built in. A free trial period may be offered, after which time the software has to be purchased. There are also free versions of these programs found online, but features and protection may be limited.
Spam blockers can be found in both anti-virus software suites and as stand alone features found with many email hosting companies. Although spam is often not a security threat, as it is usually simply unwanted advertising email, most people agree that keeping it out of their in-box is a priority. In some cases, spam emails may contain links to fake websites that may try to steal information from the visitor or upload malicious code onto the visitor's computer. Generally, email host-based spam blockers are free of charge and come as a perk of joining a service.
Another type of online security software are parental blocks. These can often be downloaded at no charge from the user's Internet service provider (ISP). The effectiveness of such blockers may vary from ISP to ISP, and can sometimes be downloaded separately or as part of a security suite. Parental blocks can be set to block specified websites based on URL or content to keep children from viewing inappropriate material. Sites can generally be unlocked by using a special password.
Full security suites are the most advanced type of online security software. These can include all the traditional anti-virus features, computer scans, email protection, firewalls, and parental blocks all in one software application. The most sophisticated full security suites can also handle network security, with the most expensive models being used for large companies with hundreds of computers in a network. This type of software may not be necessary for a home computer, but is important for companies who send and receive large volumes of information daily.