Our Golden Rules

"Prevention is better and cheaper than the cure!"

Never follow links sent to you in an email purporting to be from your bank, building society, PayPal and so on, no matter how genuine it appears. Always use the web address you have successfully used previously.

Keep your anti-virus program up to date - having one installed is a start, having it always turned on is better, checking for updates at least weekly is good. Auto updates are best!

Do not install more than one virus scanner on your PC. If you want to install a new one (i.e. not an upgrade from the same company as your existing scanner), uninstall the old software first and re-boot before installing your new software.

Keep your firewall up to date in the same way as your anti-virus. There are free ones available if cost is a major issue. See Useful Links page.

Run Windows Update monthly - If you are on Broadband, Auto updates are essential.

Exercise extreme caution when told "you must install this plug in..." to view a picture, movie, download music etc. You may be unwittingly installing some malicious software. If unsure, cancel the download and do an internet search on the name of the "plug in".

Spyware/Adware is becoming a major issue on a par with viruses/Trojans. There are free programs available (as well as commercial ones) that you can use to scan your computer and remove these pests. Do an internet search on Spyware or Adware to find the latest versions. These need to be updated in the same way as your anti-virus and firewall programs.

When you receive SPAM, don't click on embedded links in the email. This would not only let the spammers know the address is 'live', but leaves you wide open to attack as the spammers can hide malicious software such as viruses, Trojans or Spyware or lead users to websites where these would be downloaded.

Avoid using auto responders (automatic email replies "I'm on holiday..." Thank you for your enquiry, it will..." ). It lets SPAM senders know your email address is "live".

Never respond to the unsubscribe link contained in SPAM. Spammers exploit the unsubscribe link to identify active email accounts. Once individual email addresses or entire domains are found to be active, the likelihood of follow-on spam or other security attacks increases dramatically. (Legitimate companies will honour an unsubscribe request)

Avoid installing peer to peer networking programs unless you know what you are doing and are prepared for the risks involved.

Back up your data - if your computer had not turned on today or been stolen, how many digital pictures, documents, emails, accounts, music tracks, video clips etc would you have lost forever? If you have very important data that you save, consider keeping an extra copy (say on CD/DVD/Tape/Zip) in another location. Saving data on the internet is an option but consider your need for confidentiality

Check your backup media (on another PC if possible) to ensure it has worked. Try recovering a file from the backup.

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