Scammers, hackers, and identity thieves are constantly looking to steal your personal information and your money. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself, like keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have a good reason.
It is also essential to have suitable security protection software installed on your computer and there is a wide choice of technologies available for providing this protection, ranging from anti-virus software packages to firewalls.
With all the options currently available, it is possible to implement proper computer security without compromising the need for quick and easy access to your information.
Guides to all aspects of computer safety are available at the following links:
Almost everything you do on the internet from email to online banking will be password protected.
Make sure that your computer system and all of your sensitive data are password protected. This is the simplest and most common way to ensure that only those that have permission can enter your computer or certain parts of your computer network.
A guide to creating and storing strong passwords is available at this link.
Remenbering all your various passwords can be extremely difficult so don't be tempted to use the same password for all your applications or write your passwords somewhere that can be easiy found - use a password manager.
A password manager is a computer program that allows users to store, generate, and manage their passwords for local applications and online services.
A guide to the best password managers is available at the following links:
Windows Security provides antivirus and malware protection for your computer. In addition to scanning your computer for potentially harmful applications, Windows Security provides real-time protection, double-checking each file or application you open without slowing down your computer.
Full details of what is available and how to use it can be found at the following links:
A firewall is a system that acts as a barrier between your device and the internet
Based on a set of defined rules a firewall maintains network security and helps to filter out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your devicer over the Internet
Your device will have come with a software firewall built in to the operating system e.g. Windows Firewall which will be configured for normal home use.
Never turn your firewall off.
A comprehensive guide to firewalls is available from GetSafeOnline.
At home you are likely to connect to the internet via a router that offers both a direct wired access or a Wi-Fi (wireless) access. Alternatively you might be using a portable Wi-Fi unit.
Like a public Wi-Fi signal your home Wi-Fi signal can be detected by any device within range of your house.
It is therefore important to take a few simple security and privacy steps to secure your home Wi-Fi against cybercriminals.
A guide to Home Wi-Fi protection is available at this link.
Your web-browser is the window to the internet and also in the front line of defence against malware threats.
The most commonly used browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox.
These browsers are secure browsers and have preset security and privacy settings making your time online that much safer. You can fine tune these settings to suit your use of the internet but it is advisable to set them to the highest acceptable level.
Comprehensive advice is contained in this Guide to Secure Online Browsing.
Anti-virus and anti-spyware software protects the computer from all types of malware.
An Anti-Virus program works as follows:
Frequently, these programs are bundled into a single software product, e.g. Norton, McAffee, FSecure, Kaspersky and Bitdefender.
Your device may have come with a free trial period version of one of these products. Some banks offer a free 12 month version.
If you are running Windows 8 or above you will have Windows Defender already installed and running.
There are also several recommended free Anti-Virus and Anti Spyware programs available, like Avast and Avira.
Guides to free Anti-Virus software are available from:
A guide to the best free anti-virus software is available here.
Keeping your Anti-virus software up to date and performing regularly scheduled system scans adds another level of internet security.
Disabling these security applications or failing to perform updates and scans will leave you vulnerable to the majority of internet-related threats.
Schedule regular scans based on your use of the internet. If you work online everyday make sure a scan is also performed daily.
When you access your bank account it is essential that you have an additional layer of protection on your device for the duration of your banking session.
Some Anti-Virus software includes Banking Protection, others have it as additional option. Most banks offer it as a free download.
Banking protection will automatically start as soon as you login to your account and close when you logout.
Never access your bank account without Banking Protection running and never turn it off before you logout.
Keeping your Operating System, browser, and other security programs up to date is an extremely important step in protecting your computer.
These regular updates are designed to protect your computer from the latest threats. Most protection software will download updates as soon as they are available and perform an automatic update.
Automatic update may be an option depending on the software. Always ensure Automatic Updates are turned on.
You can use a free download, Patch My PC Home Updater to check for and update the latest versions of over 300 programs that you may have installed on your device.
Identity Theft and Fraud
Identity theft is an increasingly common crime that refers to criminals obtaining your personal information and making purchases or entering into contracts in your name.
Identity theft can result in direct financial loss, damage to credit ratings, difficulty getting loans and credit cards, and months of reorganising financial accounts.
Although frequently carried out through computers and the Internet, other methods include retrieving unshredded documents from rubbish bins or contacting you directly pretending to be from a legitimate organisation in order to obtain personal data.
For details of how to protect your identity and what to do if you if your identity is stolen can be found at MAG - IDENTITY THEFT & FRAUD
Important - If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it immediately to Action Fraud, UK’s National fraud reporting centre at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 20 40.
Guides to Internet Safety
Tutorials covering all aspects of computer and internet security are available at the following links:
Keeping Your Child Safe on the Internet
Compehensive information and guides can be found at MAG - KEEPING YOUR CHILD SAFE ONLINE.
Certain routine tasks should be performed on your computer daily, weekly or monthly in order to keep the computer running efficiently, fast and for a long time.
Continue for a comprehensive guide to Computer Routine Maintenance at:
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