Regularly update your operating system, and all the programs installed upon it

Computer programs are often large and complex. It is inevitable that some of the software you use on a regular basis contains undiscovered errors, and it is likely that some of these errors could undermine your computer's security.

Anti-virus software

A computer virus spreads software, usually malicious in nature, from computer to computer

Recommended free anti-virus software

Avast! (Best system) Avira Free Antivirus AVG Anti-Virus Free Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition Sophos

You may install multiple Antivirus programs but make sure to only run one at a time.

  • Enable “always on” virus settings (Realtime protection, Resident protection)

  • Make sure your anti-virus software is sending you updates regularly. If it is not, change the settings so that it does

  • Check that you have the most up-to-date version of the software regularly (Avast does this automatically when connected to the internet)

  • Regularly do full computer scans (every week, or after you connect to a public internet connection, opened an email with attachments, or downloaded anything)

Removable Media (DVD, CD, USB, etc.)

  • Be careful with removable media (DVD, CD, USB)

  • Ensure anti-virus software is running before use

  • Disable autoplay (Go to My computer > CD or DVD drive > properties > Autoplay > for every content tab click either Take no action or prompt me to take action)

Use a firewall

A firewall prevents unauthorised access to or from a private network, it receives, inspects and makes decisions about all incoming and outgoing data. A good firewall allows you to choose access permissions for each program on your computer. It can be used as an early-warning system that might help you recognize when your computer's security is being threatened.

Recommended free firewall programmes:

ZoneAlarm (for Windows only) Comodo Firewall

Spyware

Spyware collects data, observes and records your private information and tracks your Internet habits, it can run on your computer secretly. Spyware can be used to track the work you do, both on your computer and the internet, it can then send this information to someone else. This information could be used to track you.

Viruses and spyware are different. You need both anti-virus and anti-spyware software to protect yourself.

These can be used with anti-virus software:

Spybot S&D

N.B It is important that you regularly update Spybots malware definitions manually – the free version does not do this automatically.