Internet safety and security

 

Using the Internet and the World Wide Web (www) comes with risks, but like many other activities these risks can be reduced by using a few basic technical controls, and by following good security practices.

Good security practices

Here are just six things that you can do to significantly reduce the risk of your computer being compromised by malicious software, but please note that BCS Jersey will not be liable for any problems that happen as a result of using any of the software or services mentioned on these pages. If you do not feel confident about installing or configuring them, please ask someone with the relevant technical knowledge to help you.

1. Only install software that you really need

  • Put another way, only install software that you actively looked for – avoid downloading software on a whim
  • Use the software vendor’s official website to download software where possible
  • Keep the software up to date (see next point)
  • Uninstall software that you no longer need (then you won’t need to keep it up to date)

2. Keep your software up to date

  • For Microsoft software enable automatic updates
  • For non-Microsoft Windows software there are third party products that can identify programs that need updating (for example Secunia PSI)
  • For other operating systems activate and use the relevant update mechanisms

3. Make sure that you use anti-virus software and that it is kept up to date

4. Change all default passwords

  • IT equipment usually comes with a default initial username and password
  • As these ‘credentials’ are widely known, you should change them during the configuration process to reduce the risk of unauthorised use of the equipment
  • Try to use a password that is complex (includes characters that are uppercase, lower case, numbers and special characters – for example !, “, %, ^, (, ), _, -), and which is more than 8 characters – the longer the better
  • A ‘passphrase’ – a number of different words joined together – may be easier to remember and can be a good alternative to a complex password

5. Use a ‘standard user’ account when browsing the web

  • If you are using Windows, a computer account with ‘administrative privileges’ allows you to install software and carry out other housekeeping tasks
  • If you come across a website that has malicious software, it could potentially use the administrative privileges of your account to gain access to your computer and install software without your knowledge
  • Using a ‘standard’ Windows account when browsing reduces this risk

6. Take care where you browse

  • Be aware that there is evidence which suggests that downloading illegally copied (pirated) material (for example copyrighted films or music) brings a higher risk that those files have been infected with malicious software – so you may get more than you bargain for!
  • When you register for an Internet based service try to avoid using the same password for everything – if you do, then if your password for one website / service is compromised and becomes known by a third party, they may also be able to access all the other services for which you used the same password

Internet safety

If you want to restrict the websites that can be accessed from your home network, then you may want to consider using ‘Open DNS‘. Open DNS is a service that can apply filters to block access to adult content free – it is relatively easy to configure, and the basic service is free for home networks.

You can get more information about how you can protect your children when they use the Internet and the web from the following resources –

Setting up your wireless router

If you need some help on how to setup your wireless router securely, this practical guide to securing your routermay help. Setting up your wireless router correctly will help reduce of you information being compromised – as described in the findings from a 2011 survey on the state of wireless security in Jersey.