Network Security vs. Computer Security: What’s the Difference?

a young woman checks her phone after using her computer in a cafe

When it comes to staying safe with technology, you generally have two basic options – network security and computer security services. While the two are related, these security options are also distinctly different. To make sure your information is safe on your computer, you need to understand the basic differences between computer and network security and select the right combination of the two to meet your needs.

What is Computer Security?

At the very simplest level, computer security is a technique used to protect data stored on a single computer. This type of protection ensures that the data or information stored on your computer cannot be accessed, read, or otherwise compromised by any individuals without appropriate authorization.

Computer security systems range from simple to complex depending on the level of security desired. Nonetheless, most techniques utilize a variety of measures for protection, including data encryption and password protection.

Data encryption is a technique of literally translating data into a form that is incomprehensible or even unintelligible unless deciphered by the appropriate mechanism. This form of protection delivers the highest level of computer security.

Passwords or password protection simply limit access to users without the appropriate password or sequence code. This type of security can be used to protect documents, programs, and entire systems.

What is Network Security?

Whereas computer security protects individual computers, network security is the measures taken to protect your network. This type of protection covers any computers connected to the network and involves securing use, integrity, and safety of your network and any data linked to the network. These systems feature a variety of protective measures to prevent infiltration of unauthorized users, as well as technological attacks.

Network security is designed in such a way to prevent the attack of common network hacks, including:

  • Viruses, worms, and other transferable issues
  • Adware and spyware
  • Hackers
  • Service attacks
  • Data and material theft
  • Identity theft

Network security packages are typically comprehensive and feature a variety of components. The components of these systems work together to protect you, your information, and your company. Components often included in network security involve anti-virus and anti-spyware, firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and virtual private networks to provide secure access.

Computer Security vs. Network Security

In one word, the difference between the two is coverage. Computer security is designed to protect a single unit or computer, while network security protects all of the machines and users connected to the network. The level of security within each is similar and prevents many of the same issues. Nonetheless, most businesses incorporate both computer and network security to establish the highest level of protection.