STAY SAFE ONLINE
We have in place all generally accepted standards of technology and operational security in order to protect your personal information and to ensure compliance with the requirements of all applicable data protection and privacy legislation, but there’s also plenty you can do to help protect yourself.
Anti-virus software is a computer program that searches your hard disk for viruses and removes any that are found. It only protects against what it already knows about. New viruses spread very quickly so you must update your anti-virus software regularly, on a weekly basis at the very minimum.
There are many anti-virus products to choose from, so it’s best to do your research. You’ll need to ensure your chosen product is configured to check for updates every time your computer is switched on and runs continuous background scanning. Typically updates take a couple of minutes and will happen in the background.
Spyware is the generic name given to programs that are designed to secretly monitor your activities on your computer. Spyware installs itself onto a user’s computer by stealth, subterfuge and/or social engineering and sends information from that computer to a third party without the user’s permission or knowledge. Spyware includes keyloggers, backdoor Trojans, password stealers, and botnet worms, which cause corporate data theft, financial loss, and network damage.
How does it work? In its least dangerous forms, it is known as adware. Adware collects information about your Internet habits on behalf of companies and can occasionally pop up adverts as you surf.
In its more dangerous form, it can act like a Trojan virus it can capture passwords, banking credentials, and credit card details, then relay them back to fraudsters once you are back online.
How can I prevent it? Spyware removers, search out these programs in the same way as anti-virus and can also block those annoying pop-up adverts. There are many free anti-spyware programs which can be downloaded and used to scan your computer for spyware and adware, like Ad-aware.
Signs of infection. If you keep getting pop-up windows all over your screen, you may have been infected with spyware or adware. You should run a scan like Ad-Aware or Windows Defender to detect and to remove it. Also, if you run Windows XP Service Pack 2 or newer, you can enable the pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer.
How to enable the pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer.
- Internet Options
- Privacy tab
- Check the pop-up blocker box
WHAT IS A FIREWALL?
A personal firewall protects your personal computer and private network from malicious mischief. Malware, the malicious software, is the primary threat to your home network. There are two ways a firewall can prevent this happening:
- it can allow all traffic to pass through except data that meets a predetermined set of criteria, or
- it can prohibit all traffic unless it satisfies a predetermined set of rules.
There are many firewall and anti-virus products to choose from, so it’s best to do your research. Most anti-virus suppliers also offer a firewall product at little or no extra cost, and these can be set up at the same time.
Firewall software should be configured to update automatically. As a minimum, if you don’t have this firewall or one as part of your Anti-Virus package, you should make sure that the Windows firewall is switched on (this is found in the Security Centre of the Control Panel).
You’ll need to ensure your chosen product is configured to check for updates every time your computer is switched on and runs continuous background scanning. Typically updates take a couple of minutes and will happen in the background.
WHAT ARE BROWSERS?
A browser, short for a web browser, is a software application that enables you to view and access website pages. For your security and safety, we strongly recommend that you use the latest version of your preferred browser.
Microsoft provides security updates and technical support for their Internet Explorer 11 and Edge browsers only. If you’re using an older version, your PC or Mac may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software.
CHANGE YOUR BROWSER SETTINGS
Internet Explorer (PC and Mac)
Change your privacy settings:
- Choose Tools
- Choose Internet Options
- Select Privacy
- Choose a setting, but not ‘Block all cookies’ (we recommend Medium High)
- Select Apply
- Select OK
Make sure that your operating system and all applications are set up to receive automatic updates. Protect your computer by downloading the latest patches or security updates, which should cover all newly discovered vulnerabilities.
ADVANCED PRIVACY SETTINGS
If you use custom settings on Internet Explorer, make sure the ‘Always allow session cookies’ box is checked within the Advanced Privacy Settings.
Encrypt any personal information held electronically that would cause damage or distress if it were lost or stolen.
Take regular back-ups of the information on your computer system and keep them in a separate place so that if you lose your computers, you don’t lose the information. Ensure that these back-ups are encrypted and tested regularly.
Occasionally, bogus emails are used by fraudsters in an attempt to extract your sensitive personal information, such as login details, ID details, or even banking details. It is important to remember, SOA will never ask you to update any information by email. Neither we nor the police, will ever contact you and ask for your details, username or passwords. If you do receive an email that seems to have been sent from SOA asking for your details, username, passwords, or you are suspicious in any way, please delete it immediately. Do not call any telephone number or respond to the email; legitimate emails can always be re-sent.
Last Updated: 16th February 2018