Protecting your Home Computer

Check your PC is up to date

The software your computer operates on already has some in-built protection. The operating system that is installed on most computers is Microsoft’s Windows, you’ll know if you’ve got this, as it’ll say Microsoft when you first turn the computer on.

Crackers (the name for evil hackers) and fraudsters often try to break through this software to exploit weaknesses and Microsoft is permanently upgrading its software to prevent them in a cat and mouse game.

Ensure you’re getting updates

Microsoft regularly sends out free security updates via the internet and it’s important to ensure you’re getting these. They’re available from Microsoft’s website or you can set your computer to download them automatically; just go your computer’s Control Panel and then the System file where you should see the Automatic Updates section.

And remember…..turn your PC off!

Another easy tip to reduce the risk of crackers accessing your PC is to disconnect from the internet or, even better, turn it off when it’s not in use, saving energy. While your PC’s on and after you’ve been browsing is a prime time for crackers to attack.

Free anti-virus & firewall software

Threats to your PC come in all shapes and sizes within vivid names such as viruses, trojans and worms. Collectively they’re known as malware (malicious software) and the impact can include recording the sites you visit, crashing your computer, hacking your bank details and stealing your identity. It’s critical that you ensure your computer is safe.

Free anti-virus protection

Not all computer viruses are made by spotty teenagers in empty, pizza box filled dark bedrooms, trying to break your computer for sport and infamy. It’s equally possible they’re created by hi-tech, organised crime, hot-houses aiming to steal your cash, identity or information. Yet while we talk about viruses, actually they break down into three types:

  • These are transmitted via websites, as an attachment in e-mails, directly over the internet, or on disks or other removable media. They hide in applications or files and spread from computer to computer. There are many kinds; some serious, some contagious and some that remain dormant:
  • Trojan (horses) are hidden within a file that looks harmless, like a picture of a celebrity, aiming to trick the user into opening installing the malicious software like spy-ware or ad-ware on the computer.
  • Worms take advantage of any open Internet connection, to try and sneak in and replicate on the computer. Once loaded, they often start to send spam from your computer without your knowledge.

How to stop them?

Quite simply, never open any e-mail attachment if you don’t know the sender or aren’t expecting a file; and ensure you have, updated anti-virus software. This should always be active when your computer is on, its job is to recognise current viruses, as well as older ones, and reverse any damage.

It’s crucial that you regularly download updates for anti-virus software, so it can protect you from any new bugs. Unfortunately anti-virus software can slow your computer down, but frankly that’s simlpy a price you must pay.

The Free Software

Pay for anti-virus software from the biggies Symantec/Norton or Mcafee and it’ll cost roughly