What is a Firewall?
A firewall can be defined as a program that watches your computer's interactions with the internet and prevents malware and viruses from getting in.
The picture above is a diagram of how a firewall works. The computers on the left are your home computers all networked together.The computers on the right are the other computers and servers connected to the Internet. Your firewall acts like a middle man. When it sees good guys coming in, it lets them in. When it sees suspicious people coming in, it blocks them before they get a chance. Your computer has programs which require the Internet to perform certain functions like updates and playing multiplayer games. Firewalls want to make sure that you are protected from programs that may have passed the firewall already, meaning bad programs that were designed to get on to your computer. Those bad programs would then either receive commands from another computer or download malware and other viruses, this is called a trojan.
Firewalls create a huge list of programs that it deems safe and unsafe. Sometimes if it doesn't recognize a program it will ask you the user whether you trust it or not.
Why should I get a firewall?
If you are a PC user you're at a higher risk of getting a virus and getting malware. It doesn't matter if you are a secure person on the internet. Hackers know people are and use other means of spreading viruses than just having a downloadable program that infects your computer. If you get even just one virus on your computer and don't handle it properly you may lose everything on your computer you may not be able to turn the computer on anymore. You may also risk spreading the virus to all your friends. Firewalls aren't a type of program you can really go 'it will just take up space and resources I don't need one of those.' The fact of the matter is yes you do need a firewall. Unless you are already protected by a major security system you should get one.
Anti-Virus vs Anti-Malware programs
What's the difference between a virus, and malware?
Well, Malware is actually a really broad term- it literally means any bad programs or harmful programs. This doesn't just include programs that are intended to harm your computer. Some malware is actually designed for good, but has problems.
So if a program is bad, doesn't that mean it's a virus?
No, a virus is defined as a program that infects a computer causes significant harm and spreads from that computer to other computers. Malware doesn't generally spread via viral means.
So what I need is an Anti-Virus Program and not a Malware program?
Wrong, you need both. Malware may not be nearly as bad as a virus in most cases however it can cause significant resource drainage and also be more annoying than many viruses. For example a form of Malware is called Adware; Adware is what we call programs that use 'evil' means to advertise to victims. Methods like creating popups in their internet browser, or telling the victim their computer has a virus and that they have to pay for an antivirus program to remove it.
So what all do I need?
As stated on the previous page you need a good anti-virus program, anti-malware program, and firewall. You can definitely get more security programs, however these are just the basic recommended types everyone should use for home and laptop security.
I have no Idea where to get those types of programs
That's okay, we've collected some small lists of the best programs out there for you! We here at Bright Hub like to make you feel smarter and on the brighter side of life. Down below there are lists of programs each categorized by the types of security we mentioned earlier.
Suggested Anti-Virus Programs
The following links are to some free Anti-Virus Programs you should try. If you decide to pay for anti-virus protection, which is definitely a good idea. I highly recommend Trend Micro; they are the leading Anti-Virus company and have tons of methods they use to keep you safe!
Anywho here are some great Free Anti-Virus programs(in no particular order):
Suggested Anti-Malware Programs
Some Anti-virus programs actually scan for malware but they don't generally focus on it. You should definitely get an anti-malware program. Some good free anti-virus programs are(in no particular order):
Suggested Firewall programs
There are tons of Firewall solutions out there but you may already have a firewall. Windows XP Vista and Windows 7 all have built in firewalls; The Windows XP firewall lacks many modern features however so I recommend switching to a different Firewall for that operating system.
Here are a couple suggested Firewalls(in no particular order):
- WIndows Firewall
- For a computer-illiterate person or family, iolo Personal Firewall is a good Solution.
Stay safe out there in that crazy place we call the Interwebs!
Tip: Using multiple Anti-virus and Anti-Malware programs is definitely a good thing! What one program may miss the others may catch. Personally I have 8 different anti-virus programs and anti-malware programs. I took it to the extreme, but you don't have to do that. You can simply go with two good anti-virus/malware programs. Oh, and you only need one good firewall. Multiple firewalls may interfere with each other, annoy you, and hog resources.
Firewall image found at https://attasit.ptl.ac.th.