Your computer / device
Make sure you run up to date anti virus software and anti spyware software and use a personal firewall. Anti virus and anti spyware software is intended to ensure that your PC stays "virus free" and does not have any malicious or unwanted programs running on it. There are several products on the market which can be updated by downloading from the Internet; searching the Internet using a search engine with the search text 'anti virus products' will give details of several of the products available many of which include anti spyware and personal firewalls, these are often referred to as "Internet Security Suites". For other devices you may use to access the service, we recommend you download and maintain additional security software.
We recommend you run the latest Internet browser - this should be the latest web browser appropriate to your operating system (e.g. Internet Explorer 11.0 for Windows 8). Further details should be obtained from your browser supplier; for the majority of users this will be Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) Browser. Further details can be found at the Microsoft website. For other browser users (e.g. Firefox, Chrome or Safari) details can be found at the Firefox website, the or the Safari website, but again you should use the latests versions of these.
Make sure you keep your computer's operating system and browser (e.g. Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 11) up to date with the latest security patches - keeping updated with the latest patches will help prevent home PC disruption from software vulnerabilites. Ideally, set your system to receive these updates automatically. Further details on this and on other home PC protection including Anti Virus, Anti Spyware and personal Firewalls can be found on the Microsoft website.
A ' Cookie' is a small file of letters and numbers that a website sends to your web browser helping the site remember information about you and your preferences.
Websites store cookies by automatically creating a text file containing encrypted data on a user's browser the moment they land on a page online. Whether it is a permanent or a temporary cookie, the idea is to create a log of the user to facilitate future visits to the website. The data collected may include browsing habits, geographic data, and statistical information.
Cookies cannot be read by any website other than that which originally placed it and are not dangerous to your computer. A cookie is a simple piece of text, not a program, or a plug-in. It cannot be used as a virus nor can it access your hard drive. Your web browser (not a programmer) can save cookie values to your hard disk if it needs to, but that is the limit of the effect on your system.
Should you wish to disable, block or delete cookies, you can do so by changing the security options in your web browser. For information on how to do this please visit All About Cookies.
Understand viruses and anti virus software
More often than not, viruses can cause your computer to crash or be a potential threat to personal information you may hold or input to your computer. Viruses are usually hidden; sometimes behind images or music you may download; sometimes embedded in Internet sites and sometimes as attachments to e-mails sent to you. Anti-virus software protects you in two ways:
1. It identifies malicious programs when they try to infect your computer. It isolates them and then deletes them before it can do any harm.
2. It will periodically scan your computer for these programs (e.g. when you turn your computer on or when you request a scan).
Understand spyware and anti spyware software
Spyware is a program that secretly gathers information about what you do on your computer and quite often it does this without your knowledge:
In its least dangerous form it is known as Adware and it collects information about your Internet habits on behalf of companies, The more annoying Adware can pop up adverts as you surf
Anti spyware software protects you by searching out these programs in the same way as anti-virus and can also block those annoying pop-up adverts.
A firewall allows you to decide which connections between your computer and other computers are allowed and which are denied. When the firewall identifies someone or something not previously authorised by you, attempting to access your computer, it will alert you to the fact. The alert asks you if you wish to allow access or block access. If you select 'allow' it will become a trusted source and unhindered access will be allowed in the future. If you select 'block' it will prevent access both now and in the future. Your firewall software should be updated regularly to protect your computer.