Security Software

Security software refers to programs designed to help secure a computer system or computer network. Types of security software include: anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and firewalls.

Anti-virus software is used to prevent, detect and remove malware such as: computer viruses, adware, backdoors, keyloggers, rootkits, spyware, trojan horses and worms.

Various techniques are used to detect viruses. Signature-based detection searches executable code for known virus patterns, but this can’t detect new viruses, sometimes referred to as “zero-day threats”. These can sometimes be detected by heuristic approaches, such as searching for slight variations in malicious code. Another approach is to run suspicious software in a protected environment, known as a sandbox, to see whether or not it attempts do anything malicious.

Antivirus software can have drawbacks. It can impair a computer’s performance and too many false positives (harmless programs incorrectly identified as viruses) can annoy users.

Spyware is a type of malware that collects information about users without their knowledge. It can be difficult to detect. Spyware is sometimes deliberately installed on machines by parents wanting to see what their children are doing online or by employers wishing to monitor the activities of staff.

Spyware can be used to collect various types of of data, including Internet sites visited, login credentials and bank or credit account information. It can interfere with the running of a computer by changing software settings or redirecting browsers. The installation of anti-spyware software is now a recommended security practice for computer users.

A firewall is used to prevent intruders from gaining access to a network. It can be either hardware- or software-based, but in this course we will be concerned primarily with software-based firewalls.the main function of a firewall is to maintain control of incoming and outgoing network traffic by analysing data packets and deciding whether or not they should be allowed through.

The firewall acts as a bridge between an internal network that is assumed to be secure an external network, such as the Internet, that is not assumed to be secure. Most personal computer operating systems include software-based firewalls, for example Windows Firewall in Windows 7. Many routers also incorporate a firewall.

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