Once you hook up your computer to a network – be it at home or at the office – you are vulnerable to attacks from the internet. It is therefore essential to have some kind of network security software installed.
Sure, your PC might not get compromised without this software just like somebody riding a motorbike without a helmet is not necessarily going to die in crash because they did not wear a helmet. You get the picture.
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about security software is of course an antivirus program with the latest virus definitions installed. This is not only for your own safety, but also for other people's safety. An infected computer can be manipulated by the cyber-criminal to infect other computers, all the contacts stored on your computer for example.
The "good old days" of only virus attacks are long gone now. Attackers have access to highly sophisticated spyware programs – some of them readily available for download on the net- which keep on getting better every day. The largest pest nowdays are Trojans. These are malicous programs which often contain a variety of malware. So if you get one Trojan on your PC, you can be pretty sure it can contain a combination of worms other trojans or even worse, rootkits.
That is why you should supplement your antivirus program with a good anti-spyware program. Both do an excellent job at what there are meant for. Most antivirus software offers some malware protection, but nothing as good as a standard anti-spyware program. This also doubles your defense if you care about computer network security.
Does it end there? Network security is a never ending process, depending on how secure you want your computer to be. For the home user there is another very important factor which often gets overlooked.
Most of you have heard about a firewall which is standard in an internet security suite. Few of you will understand the workings of a firewall. What does it mean if your firewall software asks you "program x wants to access the internet, allow once, allow always, deny?"
Just press "deny" once for the wrong program and you will have disabled your internet access. Much better to get a hardware firewall which is standard and already configured in a SOHO router and inevitably will not nag you with those incomprehensible questions.
As a home user does not hook up your PC directly to the network, get a router to tunnel and control the traffic between your PC and the internet.