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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Internet Security Tools

The meteoric growth of the Internet as both a source of entertainment and a tool by which we can enhance and organize our lives has inevitably given rise to a number of unwanted side-effects, general threats, and schemes to exploit the vulnerable. Whether it's spyware doing its best to steal our personal information, phishing e-mails trying to get our financial details, or pornographic web sites, our computers and the way we use the Internet are under constant attack from the bad guys.

Luckily for us the good guys have been fighting back and today there are a host of Internet security tools that are available to help us avoid the pitfalls.

Internet security applications usually fall under one of 5 different classifications.

Firewall Protection
A firewall is an application that runs on a computer, or a network that the computer is attached to, that inspects traffic to and from the computer and either authorizes or denies access based on a pre-programmed set of rules. As the name implies, a firewall attempts to isolate the computer or network from harmful programs that can attack existing applications and corrupt data.

Anti-Spyware Protection
Spyware is software that is installed on a PC, often without the user's knowledge or consent, which can track use of the computer and gather personal information. Such information can be as simple as recording web sites visited or Internet shopping preferences. More sophisticated spyware can even track keystrokes to obtain password or bank account information. Anti-spyware software is designed to block, detect and remove spyware.

Antivirus Protection
In the world of computers, a virus is a self-replicating program that attaches itself to existing files or software, either corrupting data or adversely affecting applications. Viruses have frequently hit the headlines in recent years, as the proliferation of e-mail and shared data has made the transfer of viruses easier and the impact more widespread. Anti-virus software detects and attempts to eliminate viruses.

Antispam Protection
Nowadays most e-mail services provide some level of spam filtering - blocking those annoying e-mail ads for unwanted products or unlikely offers to enlarge certain parts of the male anatomy! As spamming has long been regarded as one of the most reviled activities on the Internet, anti-spam filters have made great strides in the last few years and problem of dozens of unwanted e-mails every time you open your Inbox appears to less prevalent than it used to be.

Parental Control Software
Parental control software enables parents to limit what their children see and read online, manage time spent on the Internet or on the computer, select which compute programs children can use, and monitor and log all internet activity. Most new computers will have some level of parental controls included in their operating system. This is certainly the case for those computers featuring Microsoft's new operating system Windows 8. However there are dozens of other reputable products on the market today. For a more detailed discussion on Parental Control Software and a comparison of available products, visit Spyware and Other Security Tools.

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