Protecting Your Privacy

The most important thing you can do to protect your privacy is to avoid sharing your personal information with anyone, unless you know them.  Remember to use strong passwords for access to your computer and e-mail connections.

You should always make backups of any important or sensitive data on your computer, including documents, databases and contact lists. You can back up to CDs/DVDs, USB drives or another hard disk. If your data is backed up regularly, you can always restore it if the original version gets corrupted or deleted. You should store your backup data in a safe location and restrict access to it by using passwords and encryption.

Check the security settings of your computer regularly. Modern operating systems have built-in security features that help protect your computer against various threats. For example, you may be able to  check or amend firewall settings, schedule software updates or check that your antivirus software is up-to-date.

Every time you access the Internet you risk the possibility of having your computer infected by viruses, so it is important to run regular  virus scans. These can usually be scheduled to take place overnight, when you are unlikely to be using the computer.

Spyware programs may be installed on your computer without your knowledge and used to to locate and transmit personal information about you or your family. Use up-to-date anti-spyware software to minimise this risk.

If you buy anything online you will need to provide personal information, such as your credit card or bank account details. If this information is made available to others it can be used to carry out financial fraud. Make sure that you only carry out online transactions on secure Web sites.

Most ISPs prohibit users from carrying out unethical or illegal activities. You should inform your ISP if anyone tries to invade your online privacy or hack into your computer. The ISP can then take action against the guilty party.

Spam or junk e-mail messages can be sent by hackers and may carry viruses or spyware. You should create e-mail filters to prevent them from teaching your inbox. Remember that you should never respond to junk e-mail, as this simply encourages the spammers.

You can use encryption to to ensure that your e-mail remains confidential and can only be read by the intended recipient. Most e-mail software allows you to send encrypted messages.

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