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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  30 Jun 2011

INFOTECH: Anti-Virus Versus Internet Security - is there a Difference?


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Most people incorrectly assume that Anti-Virus protection and Internet Security deliver the same PC protection, with many PC users believing they are 'covered' with one or the other. However, this is a misconception and there are a few distinct differences that can make all the difference.

Anti-Virus protection is a reactive solution that provides a 'fix' once a virus has already infected your PC. Internet Security is on the other hand pro-active and provides a host of protection in addition to neutralising a virus that has infected your PC.

Viruses can access your PC through a variety of methods including e-mail, accessing the Internet or through other media such as flash drives. The key difference between Anti-virus solutions and Internet Security is that the latter prevents the virus or threat from accessing your PC, making it a pro-active solution. In addition, Internet Security solutions incorporate a host of additional technologies such as a firewall, Anti-Spam and Anti-Phishing to name a few, all focused on proactively blocking any threats which may try to access your system.

Anti-Virus solutions are akin to catching a cold and then taking antibiotics to cure it. Internet Security can be regarded as the preventative measure such as a vitamin B12 complex injection to boost your immune system, which prevents the cold taking grip rather than curing the cold once it has already infected your body.

Internet Security is far better than Anti-Virus as it actively scans websites before you access them for specific threats and identifies characteristics of viruses in the event that the virus is new and a signature file has not yet been developed to combat the new threat.
However, if you have an Anti-Virus solution, choose one that features a link directly from your PC to the vendor's Anti-Virus server so that it can scan for new viruses' on the fly' and in real time.

Many PC users are unaware that they need Internet Protection at all but the reality is that as the world becomes more connected via the Internet, the number and types of threats increase, from viruses to Trojans, spyware to phishing attacks; people need to be aware of ensuring their PCs are adequately protected from this host of threats.

An effective Internet Security solution, for example, features Identity Protection which protects you from cybercriminals who may attempt to steal your identity or your money via unsafe and scam websites known as "phishing"
sites. It will warn you whilst you are surfing the Internet and will automatically block them.

By remembering and automatically entering your names and passwords, Internet Security will speed up log-ins and prevent eavesdropping cybercriminals from hacking into your PC where they could steal your personal information. It also prevents cybercriminals from spying or stealing your information when you use wireless networks.

A popular feature of Internet Security is the Parental Controls Management.
Parents can track what websites their children visit and block access to inappropriate websites. By keeping an eye on their social networking activities and who they're chatting with online, you can keep your child safe from online dangers.

Anti-Spam functionality is another key component within Internet Security.
Spam is unsolicited email and usually takes form in a bulk email, usually under the guise of a marketing email. Anti-Spam software blocks these unsolicited emails in their tracks - before they enter your inbox. So how does this work? The software looks for keywords and in addition, also checks the source (where the email originated from) and how many recipients were on the email list. For example, if a large number of emails were linked to the 'source', it will recognise this as Spam. The danger of Spam is that bots, keyloggers, Trojans and viruses can be attached to spam and when you click to open the email, it releases the Trojans, viruses etc. onto your PC.

Included in Internet Security packages is a firewall. A firewall is a
'filter' between the PC and the Internet. A firewall usually blocks the
traffic coming towards your PC (incoming traffic). However, you may receive a virus via spam, so it is important that your firewall analyses both incoming and outgoing traffic.

A common question with Anti-Virus or Internet Security software is "Can I install two Anti-Virus or Internet Solutions of different brands on the same

With the exception of one or two brands currently available in South Africa that are able to do this, it is generally not a good idea. In most cases, both solutions think the other is a virus and results in 'conflict'. This causes the PC to slow down as the two solutions are continuously attacking each other.

Knowledge is power and it is worthwhile arming yourself with the facts because without making an informed decision when deciding which security software to buy, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to cybercriminals.
When you consider both the number and the nature of threats in cyberspace right now, it pays to be one step ahead.

Open side bar: Internet Security threats explained:

. Bot - Enables the remote control of a computer by infecting a host
and communicating back to a central server or servers.
. Denial of service - Attacks that interrupt a system and/or a network
such as a website. It prevents access to information.
. Spyware and adware - Software that continually launches advertising
or which actively spies on an individual's online activities.
. Malicious code (Malware) - Instructions or code specifically
designed to inflict damage to computer files and/or the computer system.
. Spam - Any email received from an unknown source not explicitly
. Phishing - An attempt to deceive a user into believing
they have received a legitimate email from a reputable organisation, requesting personal information such as identity or PIN numbers.
. Vulnerability - A system weakness that enables an attacker or
malicious code to gain access to the system's data.
. Misleading applications - Programs that misrepresent the security
status of a computer by informing the user that a threat, usually
non-existent or fake, is on the computer.

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