Home computers are often a popular target for intruders, looking for credit card numbers, bank account information, and anything else they can find. Intruders are not only after money-related information - they also want your computer's resources, which are usually not very secure, because most of us don't have the technical know how. Added to this, with cable and broadband access, many are permanently connected - sitting targets! Intruders can use your computer to attack other computers. You can help yourself by ensuring that you have some basic security knowledge. to minimise the risk of unauthorised access to your data..
Some basic guidelines have been provided in the previous section 'what you should do', and some additional guidance is provided below. If you require more detailed guidelines, take a look at CERT's web site (www.cert.org), which has a more detailed guide on home security.
Everything we do in life carries risks, and we often learn from our mistakes. Computers have quite a high initial cost, and early mistakes can cost us dearly. A few simple security measures will help to prevent this. Security usually requires technology and human intervention. Learn the basics of the technology, check your Internet accounts regularly for unusual activity and most importantly use common sense. The Following guidelines should help:
install a personal firewall
A personal firewall acts like a security guard, checking all data sent to or being sent from your computer. It will only permit access (in or out) to those who you have authorised. It will block anyone who it thinks should not be permitted, and will usually advise you that it is doing so, giving you the opportunity to permit access on a one off, or permanent basis. You may need to make a few adjustments to your rules at first, e.g. If you deny everything, you'll receive warning messages on a very frequent basis. If you permit everything, there's little point in the guard being there! Personal firewalls are often purchased as part of a software security package, or you can download free software. However no software firm can be specifically recommended by Melton Mowbray Building Society.
Use strong passwords
This is a basic precaution but one which many people ignore. Choose a suitably complex password containing between 8-20 characters using a combination of numbers and letters only, which is easily remembered but cannot be easily guessed. It is good practice to change your password on a regular basis. If you suspect that someone may know of these details ensure that your password is changed and the company involved is notified. The safest place to keep your password is in your head.
take care opening e-mail attachments
These are a common source of viruses, and virus writers try to con users into opening harmful attachments, e.g. With a subject line 'I Love You'. In most instances, your anti-virus software will delete harmful files, but the best course of action is don't open them in the first place, if you are at all suspicious.
take care when accessing web sites from links in e-mails you receive
Some fraudsters use this method to 'con' you into disclosing security information. You may receive an e-mail which appears to have been sent by an organisation which you deal with. A link within the e-mail directs you to a fake site, which closely resembles the site you wish to visit. The fraudsters use the scam to trick you into revealing your security information, which may then be used, in some instances, to transfer money from your account.
(Melton Mowbray Building Society's site can be checked by looking out for the gold padlock at the bottom or top of the screen, and clicking on it to check the security certificate. The web site address should begin https://...).
take care when downloading and installing programs
There are lots of free programs available, and we all like a bargain, but consider what you're downloading before you do it. Downloads may contain a virus, or cause your computer to act in an unexpected way. Ask yourself if it's worth the risk - how much do you need it, and do you trust the source?
take regular back ups of important files and folders
If you store a lot of data on your home computer, it is important that you take regular back ups of anything that you don't want to lose, in the event of your computer breaking down. Back ups are a copy of your data, which can be stored on CD's, floppy disks, or even simply a paper print out.
consider using encryption
When you connect to your bank or building society online, they will ensure that the data is encrypted (coded so that information such as credit card details cannot be viewed in transit) - you can tell it's secure when you see the small gold padlock at the bottom or top of the screen, and the web site address will begin https://... If this security function isn't available, consider how sensitive and confidential the information, that you want to send, is, and whether e-mail or input to a web site is the best way to send it.