Internet Security Basics 101 - Antivirus software scans...
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Antivirus software scans your PC for signatures of a virus. A virus signature is the unique part of that virus. It can be a a file name, how the virus behaves or the size of the virus file itself. Good antivirus software will find viruses that haven't yet infected your PC and eliminate the ones that have.
Antivirus software can only protect your computer from viruses trying to infect it via email, CD-Rom, floppy disk, Word documents or other types of computer files. Antivirus software alone will not keep your computer 100% safe. You also need to use firewall software.
The use of firewall software by home computer users is a relatively new occurrence. All Internet connections are a two way process. Data must be sent and received by your computer. This data is sent through something called ports. These are not physical things rather aspects of the way your computer communicates online.
Firewall software watches these ports to make sure that only safe communication is happening between your computer and other computers online. If it sees something dangerous happening it blocks that port on your computer to make sure your computer stays safe from the person who is trying to hack into your system.
An easier way to understand a firewall would be to picture your computer as an apartment complex. At the front door of this complex there is a security guard. Every person who enters the complex must pass this security guard. If the security guard recognizes the person entering as a resident he allows them to pass without saying anything.
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