The aim of these top tips is to provide quick and reliable information and links to the sort of resources every PC and Internet user needs, whether their use of IT is for work or for pleasure. The tips are broken down into:
The perils of email
Email is a fantastic tool but it does have its risks so you need to be careful about which emails you open. Attachments can have malicious code embedded in them as can unsolicited emails.
• Don't open a message from someone whose name you don’t recognise, particularly if it has an attachment. Delete any suspicious emails without replying. Remember: if your bank or credit card company needs you to contact them, they have telephone numbers information on your statement.
• Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
• Do not give out any personal identifying information regarding your savings, checking, credit, or other financial accounts.
• Don't give your primary email address to anyone you do not know or trust.
• Create a dummy email address for those circumstances that you need an email address to register but you don’t want to receive email from them.
• Do not pass on chain emails relating to things like viruses.
• Never respond to SPAM (unsolicited emails) and don't click on the links. Doing this can indicate that your email address is live. This can encourage the more unscrupulous senders to send you even more emails.
Risks to the home user
The family PC user is probably the most at risk as you don't have an IT department to keep them safe. Be wary of the sites you visit on the Internet and also the information you post about yourself on any websites including social networking ones. Solutions:
• Implement user accounts on PCs so that you are not entering your banking details through the same account that a teenager has been playing games through. And don't use the Administrator account except when strictly necessary.
• Change your passwords regularly. Don't use ones that others could easily guess such as names.
• When typing personal information into a website or form, especially credit/debit card details, make sure that the site is secure and the yellow padlock on your browser window is closed. The details are then sent encrypted accross the Internet.
• Anything you put up on your social network or personal site will be there long after you close your site - don't be complacent.
• Do not put anything, words or pictures that you don't want to see in 20 years, or at your next job interview. And remember, if you send something to your friend and his or her site is not private, it's no different than if your site is wide open.
• If you are accessing the Internet from a public machine, e.g. an Internet café, don't use any services that require you to enter personal details such as passwords.
• Re-type URLs from email rather than just clicking on links. If you click on a link, you may be redirected to a phishers' illegitimate site. However, if you type the displayed address into your browser rather than clicking the link, you can avoid being redirected.
• Use a gender-neutral user name/email address.
• Don't give away too much information - don't be too trusting online - don't reveal personal things about yourself until you really and truly know the other person. When filling in any form, look out for the opt-in or opt-out box. If you read the short statement, it will tell you how the organisation intends to use your information.
• Instruct children to never give out their real name, age, address, or phone number over the internet without your permission.
• Keep your home computer well maintained. Download the latest updates and patches to ensure your computer is well protected.
• Run the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). This will get rid of the vast majority of malicious software and other unwanted software on your computer. Run a Full scan, not just a Quick one.
• Scan your PC for the most common programs and vulnerabilities, checking if your PC has a minimum security baseline against known patched vulnerabilities.
• Use an up-to-date firewall.
• Take regular backups and keep them safe.
• Ensure you have surge protection for vital equipment.
• Apply password security on wireless (WiFi) networks, accounts and printers.
• Be wary about where you browse on the Internet. Set your security settings to maximum within your web browser and use all available privacy settings.
• Use a SPAM filter on your computer to sift through new emails, identifying SPAM and blocking it. However, if downloading useful tools; be careful - these may include malware.
• Manage and/or delete your Internet history and manage your cookies too, especially on public computers.
• Remove old versions of Java as they may render your PC insecure.
For the most comprehensive set of user guidance visit GetSafeOnline regularly: www.getsafeonline.org