How to Secure Your Home Network

Network Security Software

­On the software side of the security issue are several important applications. As we mentioned earlier, firewalls come in both hardware and software varieties. If you don't have a hardware firewall, you can use a firewall application to help protect your network. You can even use both a hardware and software version if you like.

There are several firewall programs available on the market. Some of them are free. Many are part of a larger software package that includes other important applications.

Almost as important as a firewall is anti-virus software. While you may be able to avoid most computer viruses, Trojans and other forms of malware through careful Web surfing habits, the truth is sometimes things slip through. All it takes is one mistake and you'll end up with an infected computer. A robust anti-virus program can help keep your computer safe.

Anti-virus software isolates and neutralizes malware. Most anti-virus software searches for viruses by comparing the applications on your computer against a huge database of malware. If something matches, the software alerts the user and attempts to neutralize the program. For anti-virus software to remain effective, it's important that you keep it up to date. Many programs have an auto-update feature that will download new virus definitions on a weekly basis.

Other useful applications to look into are anti-spyware or anti-adware programs. Like anti-virus software, these programs search your computer for applications that can affect your network's security. Spyware and adware can track your online activities and send information to another computer.

Many of these programs have active scan modes that will help you keep an eye on your computer in real time. Others may require you to set up a scanning schedule or run a scan manually. It's a good idea to run scans on a regular basis -- at least once a week.