Be safe and secure on your computer
Part of Janet Elizabeth's Computer Help
There are criminals working over the Internet, and the Internet makes it very easy for them to contact and deceive people. Internet criminals want your passwords and other information so they can steal your money and they may be looking for your friend's addresses too. Always be on your guard:
If something looks too good to be true ... it probably is!
Never type your password, bank details or other personal information in response to an e-mail message
Follow one of these blue links to find out about:
Keeping your computer free from infection
Here are some of the things you can do to help keep your computer free from viruses and spyware (collectively known as malware).
Keep everything up-to-date
. Make sure your operating system (Windows probably) is set to check for updates regularly and if it asks you permission to update, tap OK. When it says a Restart is necessary, close your work, e-mail etc and agree to the restart.
software and keep it up-to-date. Make sure it is set to check for updates regularly and if it asks for permission to update, tap OK.
Microsoft web browsers like Internet Explorer and Edge are target criminals often attack, so install, use and keep up-to-date a safer web browser
such as Firefox
Don't make it easy for thieves to find your computer. Keep your computer hidden
from view indoors and out - if you travel with a laptop or tablet computer, use a bag that doesn't make it obvious you have a computer.
Find out what else you can do at Get Safe Online
Protecting your Passwords and your Personal Data
How safe is your e-mail password?
A secure password needs to have at least 12 characters, with both upper and lower case letters, numbers (in the middle) and some punctuation marks. See the government-funded information web site Get Safe Online
for more information.
Oh, and never allow a computer that's public or shared to "remember" any of your passwords.
When is it safe to provide personal or bank details?
Take extra care when you connect to your bank or a shop where you will be typing in sensitive "personal data" such as your date of birth or your payment card details.
Do not trust an e-mailed link to a bank, shop etc (these are usually fraudulent) but type in the web address you already know is correct.
Before typing in sensitive information, look at the web address just above the window - it should have a padlock symbol before it or begin with https
as illustrated here ...
Make sure you see https (with an s) or a padlock symbol before you enter sensitive data or a password - for banking, shopping, making a booking, or even for communicating via e-mail, via Skype or on a social network like Facebook.
This will ensure your data is encrypted
will protect your data when it passes through routers, modem, wifi servers and other computers on its way to its destination.
Phishing Scams - Fraudulent E-mail
How to recognise an attempt to steal your money or your identity
Criminals use "Phishing" e-mails try to and trick you into revealing personal information such as your bank account details and passwords. They tempt you to tap on links that open Trojan Horses
or take you to fraudulent web sites.
Phishing criminals are ingenious ... tempting you with tax rebates or suggesting an account with a bank or shop may be at risk or about to close. Some phishing messages contain nothing but a blue web link with no explanation at all - tempting quick-tapping younger people, especially children.
Never respond to anything odd or over-excited
, don't even "unsubscribe".
Never follow a link from an unexpected e-mail
Just delete the message
Protect your friends and colleagues
Do not put your friends and colleagues at risk by sharing their e-mail addresses. Lists of addresses in other people's e-mail collections can be "harvested" and used by spammers, hackers, fraudsters and other criminals to reach more people.
Indiscriminate forwarding or sharing of addresses increases everyone's risk of being spammed or scammed.
When sending a message to many people (especially if they do not know each other) please protect them as follows:
a) put people's addresses into the BCC
(blind copy) list. rather than the To: or CC list. Then no-one receives other people's addresses.
b) when forwarding a message, remove
from it all the addresses that appear in the "original message" section.
c) if you are using a maintained list, for clients or club members for example, consider using an e-mail management service such as Mailchimp
. Remember the addresses were given to you in good faith and you have a legal responsibility to protect your clients' e-mail addresses and other personal data.
Watch this short video called Phishing Scams in Plain English
by Lee and Sachi LeFever of The Common Craft Show.
What is a computer virus? What's a Trojan Horse? How do computers get worms?
E-mail can also bring "malicious" software into your computer such as viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware, known collectively as "malware
A good place to learn about the types of computer malware is Microsoft's page on How to prevent and remove viruses and other malware
(and scroll down).
Prevention is much better than cure so always keep your computer system software and apps up-to-date, install antivirus software and firewall software and delete suspect e-mails.
Some people are worried by cookies
. Probably the best place to read both the good and bad points about cookies is the Privacy and cookies
page from the BBC.
E-mail Hoaxes and Chain Letters
A message telling you to "Forward this to all your friends" is a chain letter in e-mail form. It may seem harmless but it is usually untrue and some can be intimidating.
If you forward a message that contains other people's e-mail addresses, those addresses will soon be stored on many computers. Spammers, hackers, fraudsters and other criminals can use lists of addresses sent like this to reach more people. This increases everyone's chances of being spammed or scammed.
If you really must forward chain e-mail, please take these steps to reduce the risks:
- Protect the friends you are forwarding to
put all their addresses in "Bcc" (blind copy) box instead of the "To" box.
(find Bcc under Options, View or below To.)
- Protect the friend who sent the message
delete your friend's address from the beginning of your forwarded text. For kindness sake, remove everyone else's details too.
field is really useful for protecting people's privacy and preventing their email address being forwarded around the internet and misused. Read more about BCC Ask Leo's article How does using BCC reduce SPAM?
(watch out for adverts there).
Useful web sites to help you stay safe
Financial Fraud Action
The Financial Fraud Action, run by the UK Payments Council, offers advice on various types of fraud, and this includes advice on defending yourself against phishing as well as phone scams and pension fraud. Go to FinancialFraudAction.org.uk and choose CONSUMERS and then ADVICE//.
Get Safe Online - web site to help you understand safety online
British government departments and the police have helped to create Get Safe Online to help people understand online safety. Go to getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer to see how to protect yourself from identity thieves, viruses other threats.
Age UK - Fraud and Scam Advice
Age UK's online information and advice for older people includes a phone number to use if you or another older person has been a victim of a scam or virus. Go to ageuk.org.uk/scams and I suggest Staying safe online.
Action Fraud - Report cyber-crime to the Police
The City of London Police run a national centre for reporting fraud and internet crime. Its online address is www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you receive a fraudulent e-mail and want to help the police prevent this kind of crime, go to www.actionfraud.police.uk and select the red Report Fraud button.
Hoax-Slayer - helps you find out if an e-mail is genuine
Hoax-Slayer contains many examples of hoax messages that impersonate banks, HM Revenue & Customs etc or even friends. To look up a message you have received as follows:
1. Select (highlight) a distinctive piece of text from the suspect e-mail
2. Copy the text (type ctrl-C or use long-tap or right-click then Copy)
3. Go to hoax-slayer.com
4. Tap in Hoax-Slayer's custom search box, top right
5. Paste your text there (type ctrl-V or use long-tap or right-click then Paste)
6. Tap on [Search] or press the Enter key
7. Scroll down below the adverts and through the list of matches to look for your message
Hoax-Slayer has many interesting and informative articles on
why people create hoaxes and whether e-mail petitions are useful; plus tips to help you use e-mail efficiently and securely. Use their site navigation index on the left to find out more.
For other advice, see my introductory page, Janet Elizabeth's Computer help, my accessibility help on how to Train your computer and how to stay comfortable and avoid back pain etc when using your computer.
For information about me, tap the grey link to read about Janet Elizabeth's computing activities
Or visit Janet Elizabeth's home page