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Our Essential Guide to Online Security


Internet security is a huge topic. We aim to bring you the basics. The things Mum & Dad would understand.
It's worth remembering that there are many ways that things can go wrong online, but with a few simple steps, you can keep out of trouble.
Because your computer is connected to the Web, you are potentially vulnerable to attack.
If your computer is a standalone machine with no connectivity, you immediately by-pass many of todays threats.
However, most people now connect through broadband or wireless broadband, which by it's very nature, leaves you more susceptible.
So to make it simple, we'll just say that the 'Bad Guys' want to get into your machine.
They want to get into your machine to either steal personal details, (like bank or credit card details), or to steal your identity, or just to wreak havoc.
Some want to take over your computer to use it to attack others (a BotNet)
The 'Bad Guys' can get into your computer by the following means:
  • Hacking (not common for the typical user, unless you have something of value, or run a popular website)
  • Through a virus
  • Through malicious software (malware) that can be downloaded without you realising, often by clicking on a malicious link that looks like something else
  • Through email (by clicking a link you can execute a program without realising, or could be directed to a malicious website that will do the same thing)
  • Using a phishing scam to make you visit a bad website or click a bad link
  • Less usual these days, by using a virus/malware infected USB drive or (for the oldies) floppy disk

So if you understand that anything that you put into your computer can potentially cause you damage, it's quite easy to see how trouble can start.

Inserting a USB drive or a floppy disk or even CD that auto-runs, along with attaching a broadband phone line or connecting to a wireless network, is allowing access to your computer that you don't explicitly control.

But it's not all doom and gloom, as these kind of attacks don't happen every day. However, you cannot afford to leave it to chance. Therefore please at the very least, take the following steps to keep yourself secure.


  1. Turn on your software firewall
  2. Keep Windows or Mac OS up to date by using software updates (at the moment, Macs are far more secure for the novice user)
  3. Install a router in your home or office
  4. Install an anti-virus program
  5. Never click on a link in an email (even if you know the sender)
  6. Never give out sensitive information
  7. Don't download files from illegal sites
  8. Password protect your computers and mobile phones, so that if they are stolen, access is somewhat harder.
  9. Protect your passwords (don't leave them on sticky notes on your monitor)
  10. Don't unsubscribe to Spam (it only proves your email is live and you've read it, leading to more spam)
  11. Trust nobody
  12. Don't use the same password for every login, and make it difficult to guess
  13. Consider using a Mac to limit virus problems
  14. Consider using Firefox or Chrome as your web browser instead of Internet Explorer
  15. Use a limited account on your computer rather than an Administrator account
  16. If you visit porn sites or other illegal websites be aware that you run the risk of catching something nasty, very easily.
  17. Finally, a really simple but hugely effective tip. BACKUP your critical data. If something goes wrong, at least you'll have all the files you can't live without. Don't delay, read our handy guide to BACKING UP

Unfortunately the more security you employ, the more inconvenient computing becomes.

It's always a trade off between convenience and security, but we think a small amount of inconvenience (that you will quickly get used to) is far better than dealing with a stolen or compromised computer.

Now that you've read this, we encourage you in time to dig a bit deeper and take further steps to keep yourself safe.