Security software is computer software which is designed to enhance security for an individual computer or for a computer network. This software is meant to be used as part of a total security plan, rather than as a standalone security measure. Numerous software companies make security products, ranging from freeware which can be downloaded by individual computer users to specialty programs designed for particular networks, such as those used to store information for governments.
Security software can serve a number of security functions. Some programs are designed for a single and specific purpose, such as spyware removal, while others can accomplish several functions. Security software is used to establish firewalls, to detect and remove viruses, to secure information on a network, to detect attacks on a computer or network, and so forth. As a general rule, it runs all the time, providing background protection, and users can also run utilities to scan their computers for specific computer threats.
Such software can also be used for access filtering. With some computers and networks, access filtering may be desired to keep people away from sites which could threaten security, such as sites which automatically start downloads of malicious code. Access filtering may also be utilized to ensure that people in the workplace only access work-appropriate sites, and to protect young computer users such as children from material which could be threatening or dangerous.
Most programs are highly flexible. The program may have settings which ensure that only an administrator can execute certain tasks with the program, and the program can be configured to meet the needs of a specific system. Security software programs can also be directed to issue reports which are sent to an administrator when problems are detected. They can also be used to secure specific content on a particular computer; for example, someone can create password protected files or directories with security software to limit unauthorized access.
The term “security software” is also used to describe cryptographic software. This software is used to send and receive encoded messages, ensuring that even if a message is intercepted, it will not be readable. Truly robust cryptographic software which is extremely difficult to crack can be quite costly and resource intensive, while basic programs provide a low level of encryption for people who want moderately secure communications.
Reviews of security software are available through many reputable websites and computer magazines. Such reviews discuss the cost, ease of use, installation process, and other features to help consumers make an informed choice about which product will be most suitable.