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We Define Computer Security Software

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 12/8/2010

What is computer security software? Why does some example of it need to be installed on a personal or even a business computer? In this article, we define computer security software, what it is, and why it's important.

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    What is computer security software? There are actually many programs that are included in this area, from antivirus programs to operating system features that monitor a user's access control on downloading and installing programs. This article goes on to define computer security software, what is includes, and why it is important for the daily computer user.

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    Defining Computer Security Software

    Computer security software is essentially those programs which, either as part of an operating system or those downloaded from a safe website, that keep a computer safe from online threats. These threats are usually viruses, malware, spyware, and threats from browsing the Internet.

    These types of software are broken down into two general categories, that of Virus Protection and Access Control. Virus protection isWe Define Computer Security Software  those programs that protect from or repel viruses, malware, and spyware. These include programs antivirus programs such as Avast, AVG, and Norton, as well as Malwarebytes and Spybot. These programs work by finding malicious code that comes across when a user surfs the Internet or downloads a program that may not be legitimate. Antivirus programs are updated with the latest signatures of viruses and other online threats.

    Signatures are what viruses are identified by, usually through feedback from users who have encountered new threats or new strains of previous threats that have been modified in order to get past the protection. Whenever a new threat is encountered, the signature is entered into the virus database, which the antivirus program then uses to keep their own databanks updated, so that they are current with the threats that are happening at the moment.

    When a user scans their computer, either manually or automatically, the antivirus program looks for these signatures in order to determine if the computer is infected. If the program runs across a signature within its registered database, it will either delete the virus or hold it in quarantine or 'virus jail'. Both of these options are usually presented to the user either when the virus is found or after the scan has finished

    The second type of computer security software provides access control. Access control is the set of rules that keep certain users and certain actions from causing harm to the computer. This is usually built in within an operating system and gives alerts to the user when it suspects something dangerous is being installed. When something is downloaded or installed on the hard drive, the operating system will alert the user that this is happening and will ask if this is what the user wants.

    This type of access control is built for those computers that are shared between different people or different members of the family. For instance, parents can prevent their children from installing programs by making them standard users and not administrators on the computer. This allows for a child to need to ask for permission. For some users, this type of structure can be annoying, especially if they are the only ones who use the computer.

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    Both of these programs work well when they know what it is that they need to look for, but that isn't to say that all they do is stop viruses from getting on a computer or used for getting a virus off. Antivirus programs will now come with features that include guarding against antispyware, phishing scams, and misdirected website links.

    For example, Avast home edition has a feature that, when a suspicious webpage is encountered, it will warn the user that the website may download malicious software on their computer if they decide to continue on to the site. Newer antivirus programs, as well as those that have been updated for newer threats that users may encounter will also include forms that, when a user encounters something they deem suspicious, they can report it.

    These computer security software programs are made and built to protect the computer user and their routine of working, school, or just surfing the Internet.

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