Computers and the Internet have changed our world in the last decade, and have brought some amazing benefits and conveniences into our lives. Here is some important advice on protecting your computer, your privacy and security:
If you need assistance, seek professional help.
- Warning: be extremely cautious about any email attachment that purports to contain information of financial value such as an undelivered item, tax refund, lost superannuation, etc THESE ARE USUALLY NOT LEGITIMATE MESSAGES, AND CONTAIN MALICIOUS SOFTWARE THAT CAN DAMAGE YOUR SYSTEM
- Warning: do not "update" any software by following the link from an unsolicited email. Typically, these purport to offer updates to commonly-used programs such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Skype. Only update when the program itself prompts you to. THESE ARE NOT LEGITIMATE UPDATES BUT CONTAIN TROJANS
- Warning: if you receive a telephone or Skype call from any person or company insisting that you have a virus - DO NOT FOLLOW THEIR INSTRUCTIONS, OR LET THEM LOAD ANYTHING ONTO YOUR PC, OR GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS.
They are a very professional criminal enterprise that gain your confidence and steal your money as well as infecting your PC. Take their details and report them to the ACCC Scamwatch service:
- When purchasing your new PC, include extended warranty and at least 4 Gigabytes of RAM.
- Purchase surge protection and connect it correctly to protect the phone sockets on your equipment.
- Avoid leaving the empty boxes in view, they can attract thieves.
- Advise your contents insurer that you have purchased a new PC. You may need to seek specific cover for your laptop/notebook outside your premises.
- If your laptop/notebook is in a shop or business or other easily accessible location, use a security cable to prevent theft.
- Regularly check for updates to your Antivirus and Security software, and maintain an active subscription (this gives you access to their updates). Your Antivirus is only as good as it's most recent update.
- If you have a low-usage internet plan, change your plan for the first month to accommodate a large number of automatic initial updates. Yes, install updates for Java and Flash as long as the prompts originate from your computer. Try and avoid any "add-ons" such as browser toolbars.
- Ensure that your wireless router is
secure, so that neighbours cannot connect to your system resulting in
loss of performance or potential additional fees from your ISP.
- Do not name your wireless network so that it identifies your family or your street address.
- Do not keep all your online banking
details in the same place - such as a little black book (what if it's
stolen?) or on a sign above your PC (what if you have an uninvited
visitor in your home? Or someone with a telescope looking in your
window!). Disguise or separate your details, wherever they are
- Do not have one password for everything
- if this is compromised, the bad guys have access to all your
services. Consider having three "levels" of password: Super Important
(Banking, Ebay and other financial sites), Important and Trivial.
- Regularly backup your important files
to external Hard Disk (they are so cheap now), CD or DVD!!! YOU are
responsible for your own data. Keep your backup disks and externa l
drive at the opposite end of your premises in case of a catastrophe -
better still, send a copy off-site.
- Create your Recovery DVD set as soon as
possible, and keep it in a safe place. This is the original system
configuration for your PC and may be required in an emergency.
Manufacturers charge up to $150, but you can make your own set.
- Install and use Parental Control software to reduce the risk of offensive material being accessed via the internet.
- Monitor what your children are doing on
the internet: better yet, locate your PC in the lounge or kitchen. Be
aware of what they are doing and who they are chatting and interacting
- Be aware of the risks of "stranger
danger" online. Even if their Facebook profile is set to "private",
your child can be contacted by a stranger via mutual membership of a
- Be aware of the risks of file-sharing
and torrents (the most popular methods of downloading free music and
video). Apart from risk of prosecution, what you think is a song or
video might contain a malicious threat - and "inviting" it onto your PC
may cause serious problems, despite having up-to-date Internet
Security. File-sharing and torrents are an easy source of pornography -
again, be aware of what your child is accessing on their PC.
- When using eBay or similar services, never pay the vendor outside the auction payment system.
- Never follow a link in an unsolicited email requesting that you login to a website to verify your personal details.
- Do not respond to junk email (spam), just delete it. Definitely do not purchase anything offered in an unsolicited email.
- Do not respond to unsolicited offers of wealth: it's a SCAM!
- Be wary of anything offered for "free" on the internet or via email.
- Periodically scan your system for Spyware and Malware.
- Avoid "free" trials of software that purport to improve the performance of your PC - they usually just install Spyware!
- Avoid installing Incredimail - the
idea of fancier email might be appealing, but it slows down your PC and will alter
your email files. Whatever you do, don't pay them money.
Remember... someone who knows a little bit more than you is not an "expert"!