If you perform transactions online, you already know that the security of your computer and your internet browser is kind of a big deal. But did you know that is more than just one way to keep your information secure and safe?

There are many tiers of security that you can add into your every-day computing to help control the susceptibility of your information. You probably have heard of firewalls and anti-viruses, but do you know what these programs do, or the differences between them? Did you know that you can even amp your personal security to include efforts online that go beyond your browser’s capabilities?

Firewalls

Though there are professional firewalls available for purchase for business networks, we are speaking to the built-in firewall that comes with your operating system. A computer’s firewall is pretty much exactly what it suggests – a barrier between your personal system, and that which could potentially harm it.

Firewalls act like security guards at an airport. They monitor incoming traffic, and filter information so that only what is necessary gets through. A firewall will block ports to prevent unwanted traffic. It is essentially the first layer of protection on your computer from hackers and unwanted program installations.

Anti-viruses

You are probably most familiar with anti-viruses. Anti-viruses are exactly that – programs that prevent the implantation of viruses and other harmful malware. A good anti-virus software will automatically scan your entire computer, your emails, your instant messages, any links and any attachments for threats without using up a lot of processing power. You can also manually scan any file, folder or the entire system whenever you want to.

Though there are some decent free programs out there, if you spend a lot of time on the internet at all, it is recommended that you invest in a paid anti-virus software.

What’s the difference? Free anti-viruses can often bog down your computer with pop-ups and other advertisements. They’re also a little heavier on resources. A paid-for service will do its job without slowing you down, and it will come with a database of known threats that is updated more often and more quickly. A knowledgeable threat database is key to preventing malware before it can even think of weaselling its way onto your computer.

Internet Security Suites

On top of your basic anti-virus program, many companies offer an additional level of protection called, or similarly to, an internet security suite.

This package includes anti-virus software, but offers additional monitoring specific to online browsing. Though features may differ with each company, most internet security suites offer the ability to block phishing websites, to institute parental control online and to prevent pop-ups and spam. Plus, an internet security suite will add security to online banking and financial transactions –a must if you’re doing a lot with money on the internet!

These three layers of protection are only the beginning of different tools that you can implement to keep your computer safe. Many anti-virus companies have a whole host of options for their customers, dependant on individual needs and wants.

The best way to lock down your personal computer is to weigh out what is most important to you. Seek out informational comparison websites to find out what anti-virus or internet security suite is best for your needs. A couple of good websites are pcantivirusreviews.com (for-profit site) and av-comparitives.org (not-for-profit site), but keep in mind to look for what is best for you locally.

Stay safe out there!

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